The Wall Street Journal today published a review of the renovations to the National Museum of American History. The review is mixed at best. However, on the Star-Spangled Banner exhibit, the one part of the museum done by C&G Partners, writer Judith H. Dobrzynski is enthusiastically positive:
As you walk up a darkened, gently sloped ramp, the muffled sounds of Washington burning and of rockets bursting in air reverberate in the background. Brief signs, supplemented with artifacts like a charred piece of the White House, introduce the War of 1812 between the U.S. and Britain, and tell what was happening in nearby Baltimore on a September night in 1814. During that battle, Francis Scott Key looked out in the early hours, saw the 15-stripe American flag flying over Fort McHenry, and began writing the lyrics that became our national anthem.
At the top of the ramp, visitors turn left, and behind a glass wall on their left is the 30-by-34-foot banner Key saw, displayed at floor level, angled up 10 degrees. The low light is a conservation measure, but also creates a beautiful dignity. “Whoa,” said one teenage boy, as he caught his first glimpse. “Awesome,” agreed another.
With which one can only agree. The new Star-Spangled Banner display in the just-renovated National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution is magnificent: The object speaks for itself, elegantly. It sits at the core of the museum, in the place of honor. The down-ramp, where mini-exhibits tell of the Banner’s making and preservation, flows into a new five-story sky-lit atrium-lobby, another welcome change to a 45-year-old museum …
The Star-Spangled Banner exhibit design team at C&G Partners was led by partner Jonathan Alger.