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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick


Why artifacts matter

Over the years, the Smithsonian has collected artifacts for many different reasons. Yet all of the artifacts in the National Museum of American History are worth saving for one fundamental reason: they help us understand our nation’s past. In exhibitions, artifacts are not considered in isolation, but in conversation—they are placed in different contexts, juxtaposed with other objects, linked to major themes and ideas. They reveal not just evidence about one person’s life but also larger truths about American history and identity. As we look for ways to connect artifacts to history, we discover new stories and new reasons why things are worth saving.

Artifacts Capture Moments Artifacts Connect People Artifacts Mean Many Things Artifacts Reflect Changes One Artifact, Many Stories

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