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Smithsonian to Honor Celebs at Opening of American History Museum's new Culture Wing

Rob Thompson

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Smithsonian CastlePhoto bySara Cottle/Unsplash

The continual restoration and revitalization of the Smithsonian Institution's museum complex is set to unveil its newest addition and honor four artists in the process. On Thursday, The National Museum of American History will open its long-awaited entertainment and culture wing and present the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal to Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Dave Grohl and Susan Tedeschi "in honor of their contributions to the American Experience through music."

The event is scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m. and will be held in conjunction with the opening of the Ray and Dagmar Dolby Hall of American Culture and the Martha and Frank Carlucci Hall of Culture and Arts. The former will showcase the exhibit "Entertainment Nation" and is being described as the Smithsonian's "first long-term exhibition devoted to music, theater, television, film and sports" and will use approximately 200 objects to tell the history of 150 years of American Entertainment. The latter will be a rotating gallery of temporary exhibits starting with "Framing Conversations: The Richard Avedon Photographs 1946-1965."

Decades in the making

The Smithsonian got serious about collecting pop culture objects in the seventies and is constantly receiving donated or loaned objects of cultural significance. Over a decade in the making, the Culture Wing is the Institution's acknowledgment of just how important popular culture and americana is to the nation's history. In 2015 the cast of the hit AMC show Breaking Bad was present when the series' creators donated props such as hazmat suits, fake blue crystal meth and the pork pie hat worn by Bryan Cranston's character Heisenberg. Other notable objects are Dorothy's ruby red slippers from "The Wizard of Oz", Indiana Jones' fedora, John Coltrane's saxophone and the original Kermit the Frog.

The museum will be closing early at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 8, due to a special event, with the public opening of the exhibit on December 9.

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Breaking Bad cast at SmithsonianPhoto byRobert Thompson

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Bryan Cranston at SmithsonianPhoto byRobert Thompson

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I have worked in film and television, for National Geographic and on Capitol Hill. While I enjoy covering everything from pop-culture to politics and current events, as a former soldier and sailor I also like to focus on veteran and military affairs.

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