January 27, 2009
When will the Smithsonian receive and display Michelle Obama’s inaugural dress? We’ve just received this communique from Lisa Kathleen Graddy, the National Museum of American History’s curator of the First Ladies collections.
“Like everyone else, we were anxiously waiting to see Mrs. Obama’s dress (the first white inaugural gown since Nancy Reagan’s 1981 dress). It would look beautiful alongside Helen Taft’s white chiffon gown already on exhibit. As interested as everyone is though, the dress does not go on view, or even come to the Smithsonian, right away. Sometime soon, the secretary of the Smithsonian will send a letter to Mrs. Obama introducing her to the collection and asking if she would donate something to represent herself in the collection. Although it is certainly not required, it has been a tradition for the First Lady to donate the inaugural ball gown since Helen Taft donated hers in 1912. Depending on the first lady’s schedule, it can be anywhere from six months to two years before the dress is donated. Also, according to tradition, the gown will go on view immediately after the donation.”
Can’t wait until then? Go see our video presentation of the First Ladies collection.
Sign up for our free email newsletter and receive the best stories from Smithsonian.com each week.