Smithsonian Sparks

Look, we scanned a hat

January 14, 2021

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Green velveteen hat. It is circular with layers of fabric in a wrapped design.

Green wrap hat made by Vanilla Beane. Collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, gift of Vanilla Beane

This green velveteen hat, made by African American businesswoman Vanilla Beane, is one of the collection objects you can bring into your home (and even wear!) through a new set of augmented reality (AR) filters on Instagram.

The project includes 10 pieces from across the Institution, all part of Smithsonian Open Access, scanned by the Smithsonian 3D Program. See demos and use the filters on your own posts by tapping the Effects tab (the one with the smiley face) on the @smithsonian’s profile.

Beane’s hat comes from the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s collection. She used buckram, a fabric treated with glue that can be molded when wet, to create its bowl shape.

In 1979, Beane founded Bené Millinery. It still operates today in Washington, D.C., serving the African American community that has kept the tradition of ornate hats alive, especially in church. While some customers requested what she has called “real fussy hats” with elaborate trim, Beane personally likes simpler styles such as turbans.

You can choose a hat that suits you by perusing these pieces from around the Smithsonian.