The presentation medal, cast in 1.85 oz. of fine gold in Wisconsin, features an American eagle with rays of the sun on the front, or obverse, with the words “Great Americans” and “National Museum of American History” struck around the medal. The reverse side honors one of the museum’s most important treasures, the Star-Spangled Banner, and includes the mission of the Smithsonian: “For the increase and diffusion of knowledge.”
The medal measures approximately 1.5 inches in diameter. Inspiration for the design came from the museum’s National Numismatic Collection, which holds two rare Double Eagle coins designed by famed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, enlisted by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 to design the $20 dollar gold piece. The medal was made possible by museum board member Jeff Garrett and designed by Michael Guilfoyle, an international designer of coins and medals. The Great Americans award is presented annually to up to four recipients.