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Posted at 2:26 PM ET, 12/31/2008

Up Next: January Arts

By Stephanie Merry

The main event in D.C. this month is a little thing called the inauguration (perhaps you've heard about it?), and the new exhibits in January are right in step with the current local obsession.

The hat worn by Abraham Lincoln when he was shot at Ford's Theatre goes on display at the Museum of American History. (Richard Strauss, courtesy of the Smithsonian)

Coincidentally, the inauguration happens to be around the same time as the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, so a number of the local exhibits delve into the life of the 16th president. First up is "Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life" at the Museum of American History, which opens Jan. 16. The museum is showcasing its more than 60 objects pertaining to Lincoln, including his famous top hat, which he wore the night he was shot by John Wilkes Booth.

In late December, the museum also resurrected its "First Ladies at the Smithsonian" exhibit, including 14 dresses from the likes of Jackie O and Eleanor Roosevelt.

For a twist on the presidential inauguration theme, the Portrait Gallery has an exhibit dedicated to "Presidents in Waiting," as in the 14 VPs who worked their way up the totem pole to commander in chief. This isn't the museum's only presidential exhibit either; the Portrait Gallery will also continue displaying "One Life: The Mask of Lincoln."

Another recently opened Lincoln exhibit worth mentioning is "The Honor of Your Company Is Requested: President Lincoln's Inaugural Ball," in which museum-goers can relive the experience of an inaugural ball 143 years earlier at the American Art Museum.

Meanwhile, the National Gallery will show all of the images from photographer Robert Frank's book "The Americans" beginning Jan. 18. Just as Americans from all walks of life will be flooding the Mall this month, Frank's images capture large cross-sections of the country, revealing what makes the inhabitants of the U.S. so different and yet so similar.

The American Indian Museum will be celebrating the inauguration with a three-day festival beginning Jan. 17. The celebration, focusing on the country's diversity, will include Hawaiian musicians, an Armenian dance troupe and a Puerto Rican poet.

-- Stephanie

By Stephanie Merry  | December 31, 2008; 2:26 PM ET
Categories:  Museums  
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