New D.C. exhibit explores American stories

A new exhibit at D.C.'s National Museum of American History is sharing the history of America by showcasing some pretty unique stories.{ }

From Benjamin Franklin’s suit to a 2004 iPod, the American Stories collection illustrates the breadth of the American experience while leaving some room for growth.

Museum donor Bob Bodansky learned about his grandmother’s time in the Holocaust through document found in her purse.

“We know that she sewed uniforms, we learned that she was a concert pianist in Vienna and we think that maybe those two skills allowed her to survive through that,” he said.

Natalia Flores said the celebration of her 15th birthday or quinceanera, marked a major milestone – and a dress she donated stole the show.

“I just felt like it was perfect for me,” Flores said.

The exhibit’s project director Bill Yeingst said, “Stories of industrialization and immigration and stories of popular culture, music sports and entertainment.”

Visitors can also write down their personal stories to be put on display.

The museum takes a unique approach to highlighting its collections.

“Everything is about this is experimental,” said Marc Pachter, National Museum of American History. “The visual, the use of colors, the use of space, the stories we decide to tell.”

The exhibit’s popular ruby slippers, which were taken off display temporarily, are making a comeback.

“All the visitors who endured almost seven weeks without the ruby slippers they are back,” Pachter said.

New Jersey resident Patrick Fournier missed his chance to see them on his trip to Washington.

“I was pretty upset,” he recalled.

But the museum got a letter expressing his disappointment and they arranged a special visit for him.

“They sparkled a lot,”{ }Fournier said of the ruby slippers.

The exhibit opens to the public Thursday. It’s just one part of the renovations to the museum’s west wing, which officially gets underway this fall.