The gown worn by First Lady Michelle Obama to the January 2013 inaugural balls goes on display at the American History Museum today. This special one-year loan from the White House coincides with the centennial of the First Ladies exhibition at the Smithsonian and the museum’s 50th anniversary. The gown will be displayed in the center of the museum’s popular exhibition, “The First Ladies.”
The long ruby-colored chiffon gown, with a cross-halter strap neckline and deep back, custom-made by designer Jason Wu, features velvet details. Obama paired the gown with shoes designed by Jimmy Choo, which will also be displayed alongside the gown. The white dress from the first Obama inauguration, which was a gift to the museum, will not be on display this year.
For a century, the First Ladies Collection has been one of the most popular attractions at the Smithsonian. The original First Ladies exhibition opened Feb. 1, 1914, and was the first display at the Smithsonian to prominently feature women. The exhibition itself has changed in size, location, style and focus several times during the past 100 years, and the National Museum of American History, which opened in 1964 as the Museum of History and Technology, has been its home for 50 years.
The museum’s current “The First Ladies” exhibition opened Nov. 19, 2011, and features 26 dresses and more than 160 other objects, ranging from those of Martha Washington to Michelle Obama, and includes White House china, personal possessions and other objects from the Smithsonian’s unique collection of First Ladies’ materials, established in 1912. Among the dresses displayed in the exhibition are Grace Coolidge’s flapper-style evening gown, Jackie Kennedy’s yellow-silk gown worn to the Kennedy administration’s first state dinner in 1961 and Eleanor Roosevelt’s slate blue crepe gown, which she wore to the 1933 inaugural ball.
Posted: 14 January 2014