Museum Mission: Through incomparable collections, rigorous research, and dynamic public outreach, we explore the infinite richness and complexity of American history. We help people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future.
Through the Great Americans series, the museum shares the inspiring stories of groundbreaking leaders who have embodied America’s fundamental ideals and ideas. Supported and moderated by David M. Rubenstein, Chair of the Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents, each Great Americans event features a conversation with the recipient and opportunities for the museum to add objects from the awardee to the national collections. The ceremony features the presentation of a newly minted museum medal that recognizes lifetime contributions to our nation and the world.
“The Great Americans award and conversations with history-makers allow us to inspire the next generation to embrace the fundamental ideals and ideas that have distinguished this nation since its founding,” said Director John Gray. “Democracy, freedom, justice, opportunity, and equality are among the enduring American values and ideals embodied by our honorees.”