Smithsonian Institution

TSA donates checkpoint classics to the Smithsonian

If Dorothy’s ruby red slippers and a green Kermit the Frog puppet can be part of the collection at the Smithsonian Institution, why not one of the gray bins from the modern-day airport security checkpoint.

That’s exactly what’s happened.

According to a guest blog post by Transportation Security Administration historian Michael P. C. Smith on the National Museum of American History website, the TSA recently donated several artifacts to the museum’s National September 11 Collection, including some original TSA uniforms, a firearm carried by a Federal Air Marshal and various pieces of aviation security technology, such as a gray security bin and a “put your feet here” mat.

Here’s a link to website for the Smithsonian’s Remembrance and Reflection page, which has details about the museum’s current exhibition of 9/11 items and pictures of many of the items in its September 11 collection.

Beyond Ground Zero: 9/11 exhibits

As the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks rolls around, there will be gatherings at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City, at the Pentagon Memorial in Washington, D.C. and at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa.

Many museums around the country are also offering exhibits and activities that give the public an opportunity to remember and reflect while viewing objects, photographs and documents related to the day. Here are a few places to visit.

Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History

(Left behind by Lisa Lefler, this briefcase was found amid the debris at the World Trade Center and returned to her. Photo by Hugh Talman.
Courtesy of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.)

In September 11: Remembrance and Reflection, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. will offer an intimate look at more than 50 objects collected at the three sites – New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa. The objects, which include airplane fragments, a door from a crushed fire truck and objects recovered from offices, will be set out on open tables, not locked in glass cases, and will be on display for just nine days, from September 3 through September 11th. Admission: free.


(Hiking boots worn by “shoebomber” Richard Reid in December 2001.
Credit: Sarah Mercier/Newseum/Courtesy FBI)

At Washington, D.C.’s Newseum, a museum dedicated to the story of how news is made and reported, the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is being marked with special programs and with free admission on September 10 and 11.

The Newseum’s 9/11 Gallery, which opened in 2008, includes a moving video about journalists covering the attack, a 31-foot section of the broadcast antenna that sat on top of the World Trade Center’s north tower and a twisted piece of the fuselage of Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, Pa. To update the exhibit, the Newseum has added sixty new artifacts from the FBI, including engine parts and landing gear from the planes that hit the World Trade Center and the hiking boots laced with explosives that “shoebomber” Richard Reid tried to ignite during a flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001.

Rochester Museum & Science Center

In New York, the Rochester Museum & Science Center is hosting September 11, 2001: A Global Moment, which explores the tragedy through images, recovered artifacts, videos, a timeline and personal stories. Items include an American flag from one of the WTC towers, building fragments, signs, and various personal items such as a flight attendant uniform, a New York Police Department (NYPD) shield and a firefighters helmet.

Chicago’s Field Museum

(The man wearing these shoes was knocked out of them by the force of the blast coming up from the Wall Street Station. Credit: Nicola McClean)

From Sept 2 through January 1, 2012, Chicago’s Field Museum is displaying Ground Zero 360˚, an exhibit that tells the story of September 11th through large scale photographs, original police radio calls and artifacts from the World Trade Center. “Appropriately,” says museum spokesperson Nancy O’Shea, “the exhibition is in our Marae Gallery, which takes its name from the Maori word for a clearing in front of a meeting house where people speak their minds and honor the deceased.”

The Penn Museum

(Computer Keyboard; Ground Zero; Office of the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office (OCME), NYC; On Loan from the National September 11 Memorial Museum)

In Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology (the Penn Museum), is marking the 9/11 milestone with an exhibition that includes 15 objects recovered at the site of Ground Zero. Included in Excavating Ground Zero: Fragments from 9/11 exhibit are a pair of broken eyeglasses, glass from the Twin Towers, visitor badges and a mangled, almost incinerated, computer keyboard. “As archeologists we deal with the forgotten things of the past and, as a rule, we look at those objects in a rather detached way,” said Richard Hodges, Williams Director of the Penn Museum. “Seeing these [9/11] objects of everyday character in this highly charged historical context will be quite meaningful, even to students from our university who may have been just 10 years old, or younger, when 9/11 took place.” The exhibit is on display now through November 6, 2011. Museum admission is by donation on September 11.

A slightly different version of this story originally appeared on’s Overhead Bin

Stuck at the airport: British Navy to the rescue

This closing-the-airports-because-of-the -volcano, for the fifth day now, is getting to be too much for a lot of travelers and now, for the British government.

That’s why, says this article, “Royal Navy ships may be joined by commandeered civilian vessels to bring home British citizens, who have now been stuck since last Thursday across Europe and around the world.

It is possible that Spain, which is largely unaffected by the giant ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano, allowing aircraft to fly in its air space, may be used as the “hub” of the operation for people who are stranded outside Europe, principally in Africa and North America.”

And, as long as we’re all focused on volcanoes, take a look at this round-up of volcano images and information from around the world, courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, including this stereograph labeled “Gazing through sulphurous vapors into the crater’s frightful depths Aso-San, Japan. 1904 or earlier.”

The Smithsonian archivist who gathered up these images notes that there is descriptive text on the back of the stereograph that includes this passage:

“You are in the province of Higo on the island of Kyushu, near the southwestern end of the Mikado’s island empire. This is the largest active volcano in the world. You come over from Kumamoto and get coolie guides like these bare-legged fellows, to show you the way up here to the rim of the crater. It is like the open door of the infernal regions. Those vapors are sulphur smoke and scalding steam; if you were to wait awhile, great tongues of fiery flame might very likely shoot up, lapping with hideous suggestiveness these very lips of volcanic rock on which you are dizzily perched. Horrid cracklings and roarings rise continually out of that bottomless pit into which the men are peering – there are sounds of ooiling and bubblings as of the Evil One’s own caldron, and every little while the crash of a thunderous explosion fills all this upper air.”