What has it taken to bring back the majesty of the Star- Spangled Banner? Eight years, 19 conservators, and a whole lot of patience. But the result is a powerful reminder of our nation’s fight for independence.
Entering the gallery in Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, where the Star-Spangled Banner lies protected after a recently completed eight-year conservation effort, is like walking into a cathedral. Voices instinctively grow hushed in the dim light of the exhibition hall. Seeing the very flag that inspired our national anthem is a moving experience for museum visitors.
“Kids comment all the time about how huge it is,” says Suzanne Thomassen- Krauss, the chief conservator of the Star- Spangled Banner Project. She oversaw the cleaning and stabilizing of the tattered object and worked together with conservators, advisors, designers, curators, educators, and architects for years to create an environment that would adequately protect and display this priceless piece of American history. Hearing the awed reactions of the exhibit’s visitors gives her a great sense of accomplishment.