Smithsonian Collecting Items from U.S. Capitol Riot

January 15, 2021 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History has begun collecting items left behind by the protestors who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The riot, stoked by President Donald Trump, left five people dead. It was the first time since the War of 1812 that the Capitol building was breached by invaders.

Last summer, the Smithsonian also gathered objects and posters from protests in Washington’s Lafayette Square Park prompted by the killing of George Floyd.

“The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has an ongoing and deep commitment to document all aspects of the American political experiment: a government by the people,” wrote Anthea Hartig, the museum’s director in a blog post that appeared on its website.

“A key tenant of this constitutional democracy is the peaceful transfer of power following U.S. presidential elections, dating back to the republic’s first presidential election. This week, that core belief was shaken,” Hartig said.

The museum director said curators with the museum’s Division of Political and Military History are continuing to document the 2020 election and will include objects and stories that will help future generations recall and contextualize the deadly riot at the Capitol and its aftermath.

“As stewards of the nation’s leading history museum, we want to hear from you,” Hartig said.

“Please safely save any materials that could be considered for future acquisition and send photos and brief descriptions of these objects to [email protected],” she added.

Hartig did not specify which items from the riot might enter its collection.

“Your contributions help us in our goal of educating each new generation about the historical roots of our moment and empowering them to shape our future,” she said.

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