Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: Anne C. James
Jan. 31, 2005
Connecting with America's Remarkable Journey

WASHINGTON -- The world's first tin foil phonograph created by inventor Thomas Edison. A buckskin shirt with intricate porcupine quillwork that belonged to famed Sioux Chief Red Cloud. A guitar that poet and author Carl Sandburg once owned along with a first edition copy of his American Songbag.

Each offers unique insights into the intriguing story of the people, places and events surrounding the birth, creation and development of the nation that became the United States of America. But these and over a hundred million similar precious, priceless items vital to our understanding of the historical and environmental foundations of this nation could have been lost had it not been for the foresight of some very dedicated individuals years ago.

From humble beginnings in an arboretum at Yosemite National Park in 1904, to model museums developed with the American Association of Museum in the 1920s, the National Park Service now manages the world's largest system of museums. This legacy will be celebrated in a new exhibit opening Thursday, Feb. 3, 2005, at the U.S. Department of the Interior Museum in Washington, D.C.

The Power of Context: National Park Service Museums at 100 Years offers visitors a rare chance to experience a sample of historical, archaeological, natural history and cultural treasures drawn from National Park Service museum collections across the country. Preserved in the actual places that shaped their significance, the artifacts' direct relationship to place distinguishes national park museums from other museums that are repositories of objects far removed from the places that make them important.

The museum is at 1849 C Street NW, just a block off the National Mall and a few minutes walk from The White House. It is open weekdays except holidays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. the third Saturday of every month. Admission is free; adult visitors must present photo identification to enter the building. More information is available by calling (202) 208-4743 or by visiting the museum's web site at This special exhibit will remain on display through the end of the year.

Reporters and Editors note: A program and reception is planned for the opening of the exhibit on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2005 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.





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