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America on the Move
Collection Exhibition Themes
The container arrives in Washington

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The container arrives in Washington
Smithsonian Institution, Photo by Paula Johnson


This object appears in the following sections:

Making the Exhibition
Container Back Story — Imagining the Setting

The container arrives in Washington
In collection
Not a part of the official Smithsonian Collection
This photograph is one of a series documenting the preparation of several 1970s-era aluminum shipping containers for display in "America on the Move." This view shows the container pieces at the National Museum of American History on the morning of May 5, 2003, after having traveled 2,831 miles from Modesto, California.
Physical Description
Date Made:
Dates Used:
2003 - 2003
Dist of Columbia
National Museum of American History
From January to May of 2003, a team of engineers, metal workers, painters, and all-around good folks in Modesto, California, restored to Smithsonian specifications three 1970s shipping containers for the "America on the Move" exhibition. The project was supported by the Matson Navigation Company and was carried out at American Metal Fabricators, in Modesto. The three shipping containers had been manufactured around 1970; they each measured 24' x 8'6" x 8'6" and were made of aluminum. While they had served their original purpose of carrying goods of all sorts between the West Coast and Hawaii, they had spent at least a decade at the Matson terminal in Long Beach, where they had been used by the company for general storage. The object of the restoration was to make the containers look as they might have looked around 1971, as if they had been across the ocean a few times. The restored container sections were delivered to Washington, D.C., and installed in a section of the exhibition that evokes the container yard at the Port of Oakland, about 1970.

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