Friday, May 14, 2010

O Say Can You See

In honor of Stars & Stripes Forever Day and Armed Forces Day (both this weekend), we're taking a look at the Smithsonian's preservation project of the Star Spangled Banner. Seeing the staff work on the massive flag was the highlight of my first visit to the National American History Museum. Keeping this national treasure in good shape for future generations takes much more than fancy stitching skills.

Some fun facts:
  • Conservation specialists analyzed the flag's pH to determine the best method for cleaning it (they used dry sponges first, then an acetone solvent and blotting paper).
  • A spectrometer was used to analyze colors - including those of stains on the fabric.
  • Microscopic images helped determine where the weakest thread fibers were so that the flag could be properly supported.
If you haven't been to the Smithsonian lately, I'd definitely recommend taking a peek in at this masterpiece for both the science and the history. Our national anthem is based on the rising of this flag over Fort McHenry in 1814 (during the War of 1812).

New Voices tips our hat to the original creators of the flag, lyricist Francis Scott Key, the troops that successfully fought the British that September night, and the scientists and historians working together to preserve American history.

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