Selena’s Leather Jacket among pop culture items to be showcased as part of new Smithsonian Exhibit

The new permanent exhibition “Entertainment Nation”/“Nación del espectáculo,” opens Dec. 9.

The leather jacket worn by bi-cultural icon Selena during her performance at the 14th Annual Tejano Music Awards on March 14, 1994, will be among other pop culture items that will be included in the new permanent entertainment exhibit coming to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.


The new permanent exhibition “Entertainment Nation”/“Nación del espectáculo,” opening on Dec. 9 with more than 200 objects on display in a 7,200-square-foot, bilingual, multimedia exhibition in the Ray and Dagmar Dolby Hall of American Culture will be the Smithsonian’s first dedicated exploration of entertainment history.

“The power of American entertainment lies in the rich diversity and power of its voices,” said Anthea M. Hartig, director of the National Museum of American History, in a press release. “For generations, entertainers and athletes have used their platforms to reveal and respond to the nation’s many struggles, challenge injustice, and create change. As the nation’s flagship and largest history museum, we are poised to help audiences better understand the value, role, and influence of entertainment as most broadly defined.”

Through iconic objects from the museum’s renowned collection and graphics, video, and compelling stories, the exhibit will showcase how Americans have long used entertainment to both elicit delight and understand different viewpoints.

Other objects from culture makers that will be on display include Prince’s yellow “Cloud” guitar, Muhammad Ali’s boxing robe, the dress that Ali Wong wore during her Baby Cobra stand-up special, Star Wars’ C-3PO and R2-D2 and the enduring magical pull of the Ruby Slippers and the charm of the first Muppets.

“People are not just sports fans or just theater fans, or just music fans or just film fans, they are all of these things,” said curator John Troutman, in a video announcing the exhibition. “By placing these modes of entertainment and conversation with one another we can much better understand how entertainment played a key role in shaping the nation at any given time in the nation’s past.”

The exhibition will also have a companion website, where online visitors can watch videos and learn more from curators about the design process behind it.

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