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Understanding the American Experience
  • What makes the peoples of the United States one nation, and how have people perceived its nationhood over time?
  • What are the experiences of the country's diverse cultural communities and how are they expressed?

Answers to these important questions can be found throughout the Smithsonian Institution.

Our collections include a rich store of American art works; historical and technological artifacts and images; and extensive photographic, sound, and documentary archives. The staff members working with these collections document, analyze, and display American history, art, and culture through stories that capture the characters and contributions of historical figures, artists, inventors, and others. Smithsonian staffers also use public programs in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere to help community members discover what they find most compelling about the American experience and how they can contribute to the preservation and interpretation of their own historical and cultural exploration.

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