One year later, many still suffer from the events of January 6, 2021, when a pro-Trump rebel gang stormed the US capital to prevent the ratification of the electoral vote. As the nation continues to tackle the Capitol Riots, so does the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, which has announced that it continues to add material collected from the Capitol riots to its collection. Despite hurdles posed by COVID-19 restrictions and ongoing criminal investigations into the events by a special commission and law enforcement agencies, Smithsonian has amassed about 80 artifacts in total over the past year — items ranging from tags and posters to a flak jacket and multi-purpose whip .
The majority of abandoned Objects were collected at the National Mall in the capital on January 7, 2021, as part of the museum’s rapid response collection protocol. After obtaining approval, Frank Blasic, curator of military history at the Smithsonian Institution, scoured the area, digging through the trash to collect historical materials—including an assortment of banners, flag fragments, and a wooden pole affixed as a weapon—carrying it to his car for eventual transportation to the museum. .
“I went back a few times to fill my trunk, working automatically instead of trying to take in the different messages and symbols of things,” Blazich wrote in a February 2021 blog post about the experience. “As a Curator of Military History, I felt that it was best for my colleagues in political history to contextualize the political nature of these potential artifacts.”
Since the Capitol attack, additional banners, banners, flags and posters have been donated by members of Operation Clean Sweep, a concerted effort to clean up the post-riot site that began January 10 by a veterans group. In addition to declaring allegiance to Trump, the ephemera promoted the neo-fascist group Proud Boys; The anti-fascist movement denounced Antifa; and propagation of religious beliefs.
National Guard badges were also collected in the weeks and months after the riots, as were lapel pins and patches from other law enforcement who were also called in to guard the perimeter of the Capitol for 75 nights after the riots. These items indicate the presence of a variety of law enforcement groups, including the United States Secret Service, the New York Police Department, the Capitol Police, Army National Guard units from across the United States, and United States Forces in Afghanistan. Noah Savoy, a young boy living on Capitol Hill, regularly brought snacks and soft drinks to the guard staff, who gave him assorted patches in return; His parents Peter and Cassie Savoy donated the things on Noah’s behalf.
Andy Kim’s cobalt suit is another feature in the new collection of items. Kim wore the jumpsuit he bought from the J. Crowe sale to get his presidential election certificate. The New Jersey congressman hid in his office with the door barricaded for eight hours as the rebellion began. When he was put out and out, Kim got on his knees to pick up some wreckage at the Capitol Rotunda. A photo of the deputy cleaning up the mess in a blue suit went viral, prompting the Smithsonian to reach out to him and ask him to donate the suit. Kim said he hoped his children would see the suit on display at the museum one day.
Claire Geary, curator of political history for the Smithsonian Institution and lead coordinator of this collecting initiative, explained to Hyperallergic how acquisition decisions are made when an event is very new: “When collecting from a contemporary event, curators look for ways of material culture that reflects the collections in the museum and how it shows the unique aspects of the event. that unfolds. We make our best judgments, based on our existing experience and combinations, about the objects, words, or symbols that will represent the event over time.”
But grouping doesn’t just happen when the event is new, Jerry continued. As interpretations develop, as investigations come to a close, as the historical narrative emerges, and as objects are discovered or made available, the curators of the Smithsonian Institution will decide what to add to the collection for decades to come.”
“The January 6 events are separate and in the context of other national stories including the 2020 elections, the hearings, the 2021 inauguration, and the global pandemic,” Jerry said. They will also be a part of what constitutes political and social events moving forward, some of which we can expect, others not yet known. This collection is part of the complex, chaotic, and sometimes challenging narrative of the nation’s history.”
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