First Ladies Exhibit in the A&I Building

ID: 11064B or MAH-11064B

Creator: Unknown

Form/Genre: Photographic print

Date: 1920s

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 285, Box 17, Folder: 1

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The First Ladies Hall was housed in the Arts & Industries Building from 1912 until it moved in the 1960's to the Museum of History and Technology, now the National Museum of American History. From 1912 until 1955 the gowns were displayed in cases, as seen here in the 1920's. After 1955 gowns were displayed in room settings. Exhibit cases of First Ladies Gowns were probably in the northwest range of the Arts and Industries Building. A woman is looking in the case to the left at the dress of Harriet Lane Johnston, niece of President James Buchanan. A woman and a man are looking in the case to the right which contains the dress of Jane Appleton Pierce (left), wife of President Franklin Pierce, and a dress of Abigail Powers Fillmore (right), wife of President Millard Fillmore.


  • Fillmore, Abigail Powers
  • Pierce, Jane Appleton
  • Johnston, Harriet Lane 1830-1903
  • Arts and Industries Building
  • National Collections
  • United States National Museum
  • First Ladies Hall
  • First Ladies Exhibit


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


For additional information on the collection see the book entitled "The First Ladies Hall" by Margaret Brown Klapthor, Smithsonian Press 1972. Gowns in the collection were mounted on a plaster figure which were given similar facial features copied from a bust representing Cordelia, daughter of Shakespeare's King Lear, done in 1863 by the sculptor Pierce F. Connelly, of Louisiana. By changing the expression of the eyes of each figure, and by copying the coiffure of the lady to be represented, a varied and interesting appearance was given to the entire group. The coiffure was copied from a photograph, painting, or piece of statuary of the lady whose dress was to be displayed. No attempt was made to portray the person represented, as the artistic task involved made this impractical.

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 285, Box 17, Folder: 1

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,



Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Women
  • Artifacts
  • Mannequins (figures)
  • Costume
  • Clothing and dress
  • Exhibitions
  • Gifts
  • Museums
  • First Ladies Gowns
  • History
  • Museum mannequins
  • Presidents
  • Costumes
  • Museum visitors
  • Presidents' spouses
  • Women--History


United States


  • Photographic print
  • Exhibit

ID Number

11064B or MAH-11064B

Physical description

Color: Black and White; Size: 10w x 8h; Type of Image: Exhibit; Medium: Photographic print

Full Record

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