Smithsonian celebrates Star-Spangled Banner bicentennial beginning June 14


WASHINGTON — Notable celebrities are supporting the National Museum of American History in celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner.

Artists such as Aloe Blacc, Renee Fleming, Angie Johnson and Brian McKnight are encouraging Americans to take part in the museum’s coast-to-coast celebration.

Raise it Up!

Anthem for America, held June 14, is a national sing-a-long event for people to come together and sing their anthem at 4 p.m. EDT.

Details are at

On the museum’s Mall terrace June 14, Grammy-winning composer Eric Whitacre will conduct a 500-person choir in performance of America the Beautiful; MacArthur ‘genius’ Fellow Francisco J. Nunez conducts Lift Every Voice, with commander and conductor Col. Larry Lang directing The U.S. Air Force Band and Singing Sergeants.


Special displays June 14 through July 6, the Maryland Historical Society is lending Francis Scott Key’s original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner lyrics, uniting it for the first time with the flag Key saw at “dawn’s early light.”

Visitors will be able to see the 30-by-34-foot flag and the manuscript, side-by-side in the banner’s environmentally controlled chamber at the museum.

star spangled banner

Beginning June 14, the museum will display Grammy award-winning opera singer Renee Fleming’s Vera Wang gown worn when she sang the national anthem during the 2014 Super Bowl. The long black dress features pleated accents at the waist and an ivory silk faille floor-length wrap coat with exposed shoulder and hand-draped detail.


June 17, the Smithsonian will present designer Ralph Lauren, son of immigrants, with the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal during a naturalization ceremony June 17  welcoming 15 new Americans. The medal recognizes Lauren’s lifetime contributions to American artistry, entrepreneurship, creativity and vision. Lauren also played a leadership role in the preservation of the Star-Spangled Banner.

Website and outreach

The website will feature an interactive timeline, The Banner Yet Waves: 200 Years of the Star-Spangled Banner, which will have traditional renditions of the anthem from the archives of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, as well as contemporary renditions and interviews with musical artists, including Blacc and Johnson.

Public Service Announcements will run during “Litton’s Weekend Adventure,” airing Saturday mornings on ABC television stations across America. To engage with Raise It Up! on Twitter use #raiseitup.


The Smithsonian Channel and the museum are collaborating on a documentary, A Star-Spangled Story: Battle for America, which premieres June 14 at 9 p.m. EDT.

The film documents the story behind the 200-year-old anthem — from the burning of Washington to the creation of the iconic American flag — revealing the forgotten battle that could have changed the fate of the nation.

The museum is at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25).

Admission is free.

For more information, visit For Smithsonian information, call 202-633-1000.


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