Visit the Star-Spangled Banner

The National Museum of American History

Admission is free.
Open every day except December 25.
14th St. and Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. [map]

About the exhibition

The permanent exhibition, The Star-Spangled Banner: The Flag that Inspired the National Anthem, is the Smithsonian’s greatest effort to meet the dual challenge of preserving this treasured flag and communicating to visitors its history and significance. A two-story display chamber protects the flag while providing a dramatic view of its “broad stripes and bright stars.”

Waterproof membranes encase the chamber to prevent the infiltration of water from an accidental leak. A dedicated heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system provides filtered air and controlled humidity and temperature. A special fire-prevention system prohibits combustion by reducing the concentration of oxygen in the air in the chamber. Extremely low light levels in the chamber and the surrounding viewing area minimize light damage.

The exhibition surrounding this chamber tells the dramatic story of the flag and traces its journey from Mary Pickersgill’s house to the Smithsonian. The exhibition makes use of lighting, ambient sound, video, and an interactive table with a virtual, life-size image of the flag to enhance and complement the visitor’s encounter with the real artifact. A tactile panel with an outline of the flag and a full-sized star offers access to the main experience of the exhibition—viewing the Star-Spangled Banner—for vision impaired and blind visitors; prerecorded audio description tours are also available.

Together, these exhibition elements provide visitors with a new way to experience the Star-Spangled Banner, learn its history, and appreciate its significance.

Additional Information

  • Star-Spangled Banner Exhibition

    Star-Spangled Banner Exhibition

    Visitors are seen in the newly re-opened exhibition at the National Museum of American History.

Star-Spangled Banner Exhibition