Smithsonian's American History Museum Set to Reopen

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Saluting the National Museum of American History as "one of the country's great civic institutions," President Bush this morning helped rededicate the revamped museum and the new home for the Star-Spangled Banner.

"This building is home to many of our national treasures. It is a reminder of our country's proud heritage," Bush said, standing before the museum's shimmering architectural representation of a waving flag. The centerpiece of American History's renovation is a special chamber for the original flag, which in 1814 inspired the lyrics that became the national anthem. The museum reopens to the public Friday.

Speaking to several hundred invited guests, Bush noted the diversity of items within the museum that tell a collective American story, listing George Washington's military uniform, one of Thomas Edison's early light bulbs, Thomas Jefferson's desk on which he drafted the Declaration of Independence and Muhammad Ali's boxing gloves...

The last known copy written by Lincoln belongs to the White House. Laura Bush has lent it to the museum, where it will be on display until Jan. 4.

The 44-year-old museum, closed since September 2006, has undergone an $85 million physical renovation and reordering of how it tells the American story.

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