Presidential inaugurals have a cherished history at the Smithsonian. On March 6, 1865, Lincoln's second inaugural ball was held at the U.S. Patent Office, now the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery (currently on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Honor of Your Company Is Requested: President Lincoln's Inaugural Ball) The inaugural ball of President Garfield, March 4, 1881, was also the first public event held in the newly built U. S. National Museum, now known as the Smithsonian Arts & Industries Building (pictured in this set). The Smithsonian’s involvement with inaugural events is a tradition that continues today, with its museums serving as the sites for numerous balls, celebrations, and exhibitions.

This photo set includes historic inaugural photos from the Smithsonian Institution Archives and photos of contemporary inaugurations by Smithsonian staff photographers who continue to document the events.

To see more historic photos of presidential inaugural events at the Smithsonian, as well as historic photos of the First Ladies Gowns Collection, visit the SI Archives online exhibition.

If you plan on visiting Washington D.C. during the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, many presidential and inaugural related exhibits will be on view at the Smithsonian.

To learn more about archives and the Smithsonian's history, visit THE BIGGER PICTURE. To view more collections from the Smithsonian, visit the Collection Search Center.
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