Smithsonian Collections Blog

Highlighting the hidden treasures from over 2 million collections

Collections Search Center

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Trimming the Tree

I am excited about the upcoming holiday season. After helping my co-workers start to decorate the office for the holidays the other day, I went home, put on the movie Elf and began decorating my apartment. Although I love hanging twinkle lights and making a wreath, I most enjoy trimming the tree. For me, unwrapping each ornament out of its tissue paper is almost exciting as unwrapping a present. With each ornament there is a memory, a story to talk about with family and friends. 

Smithsonian Tree Decorating
Volunteers from the staff of Smithsonian Gardens, National Museum of American History and Office of Facilities Engineering and Operations decorate a 10-foot live tree with the theme of origami from around the world, December 2006. Photo by Harold Dorwin. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

The Smithsonian also does its fair share of decorating trees across the Institution. In the past, one of the most popular tree displays at the Smithsonian was the Trees of Christmas exhibit, hosted by the National Museum of American History. Sponsored by the Office of Horticulture, now called Smithsonian Gardens, each year the exhibit included about a dozen trees ranging from eight to twelve feet. What made the exhibit special was that each tree’s ornaments and trimmings revolved around a specific theme. Some represented America’s diversity, while others represented a historical decade. There were also trees with an international theme including trees from Russia and Japan. The ornaments that adorned the trees were made by volunteers from around the country.  The idea for the exhibit originated with the book written by Edna Metcalfe of the same name. Metcalfe’s book, like the exhibit, includes a variety of thematic trees and encourages people to make homemade ornaments (learn to make some with SIA pictures here).

The exhibit is not up at the Museum this year, but visitors can still enjoy the elegant work of the Smithsonian Gardens. Their seasonal décor can be found throughout the Institution, inside and out. Each year Smithsonian Gardens and Office of Facilities Engineering and Operations staff decorate a tree for the Castle (watch this video of this years tree) and this year will have a walking tour and craft project inspired by the gardens. So stop and check out their fabulous work which will put even the biggest Scrooge in a festive holiday mood.

For some more ideas on holiday themes for your own household decorations check out this search from the Collections Search Center. Happy Holidays!

Courtney Esposito, Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives

No comments:

Post a Comment