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Exhibitions Home | Current | Upcoming | Past | Virtual

A Nation of Nations

1976 – April 30, 1991

Museum: American History Museum

Location: 2nd Floor, West Wing

Through more than 5,000 original objects, this exhibition documents the diversity of people who have come to America over the centuries and affirms that America is linked to other nations by an intricate web of cultural ties. The 1st section, "1776: A New Nation," explores immigration patterns to 1800. The exhibition shows early explorers from Spain, France, Holland, and England, then from almost every portion of Europe, as well as forced immigration by black Africans.

Highlights include:
-- German stoneware
-- Dutch delftware
-- French trade goods
-- Chinese porcelain
-- Indian tools
-- Spanish images
-- a New England craftsman's kitchen

The 2nd section, "Old Ways in a New Nation," explores the increasing flow of immigrants throughout the 19th century, their usual method of travel, traditional ways of working, and modes of social organization.
Highlights include:
-- a grist mill , or "molino," from New Mexico
-- a Great Plains windmill
-- tools and utensils
-- homemade products from furniture to paintings

The 3rd section, "Shared Experiences in a New Nation," focuses on the "American" activities and environments shared by immigrants from the close of the Civil War to present day. Some shared experiences addressed in this section includes becoming a United States citizen, attending free public schools, learning the routines of military basic training, and participating in and enjoying the world of entertainment (sports, movies, television). Highlights include a classroom from Cleveland's Dunham Elementary School.