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Washington DC: National Museum of American History - Fab Five Freddie's Boom Box and Grandmaster Flash's turntable

This earlly 1980s Sharp boom box belonged to pioneer graffiti artist Fab Five Freddy, who collaborated with Charlie Ahearn in one of the earliest hip-hop documentaries, Wild Style. The boom box symbolizes the beginning of hip-hop. This big, portable stereo allowed fans and practitioners of hip-hop to bring music wherever they went, and to record music at big outdoor parties. Many of the tapes recorded with boom boxes became highly sought after by fans and are prized collectors items.


This turntable and vinyl records from the Washington, D.C., go-go group chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers, once belonged to a founding father of hip-hop, Joseph Sadler. As Grandmaster Flash, the Barbados native started one of the earliest and most important hip-hop groups, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. He is recognized as the first person to use the turntable as a musical instrument. Turntables and records are the backbone of hip-hop. For genre pioneers, the turntable enabled them to transform earlier music styles and to make old music fresh, new and relevant to B-boys and B-girls.


Thanks for the Memories: Music, Sports and Entertainment History, an ongoing exhibition rotates a display of iconic and well-loved artifacts that mirror the ways music, sports and entertainment have played major roles in U.S. life, shaping our national memory and often defining what is American to the nation and the world.


The National Museum of American History (NMAH), administered by the Smithsonian Institute, collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. The museum, which first opened in 1964 as the Museum of History and Technology, is located on the National Mall in one of the last structures designed by McKim, Mead & White. It was renamed in 1980, and closed for a 2-year, $85 milliomn renovation by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP from 2006 to 2008.


The Smithsonian Institution, an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its shops and its magazines, was established in 1846. Although concentrated in Washington DC, its collection of over 136 million items is spread through 19 museums, a zoo, and nine research centers from New York to Panama.

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Taken on June 5, 2009