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The Smithsonian Is Going to Get So Drunk

Two weeks ago, The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History announced at the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America that it will launch a three-year initiative to collect, document, and preserve the history of brewing, craft brewers and the beer industry to explore how the beverage and brewing connect to larger themes in American history.

Part of the “Smithsonian Food History” project, this initiative is made possible through a donation from the Brewers Association of Boulder, Colo., the not-for-profit trade association dedicatedto small and independent American brewers.

Museum staff have researched and documented American food and beverage history for more than two decades and will work with the Brewers Association, American brewers, and beer historians to document and collect the stories and history of modern American brewing. Beer and brewing have been an important part of the American experience since before the nation’s founding and into the present day, and beer production for the past 30 years has been connected to significant social, cultural, economic and environmental movements across the country. The team will explore the unique connections between brewing and broader themes, including advertising, agriculture, industry, innovation, business and community life. More information about the initiative and beer history at the museum is available here:http://s.si.edu/BrewHistory.

“Brewing has a long and deep connection to our country’s history, and the museum’s collections explore the history of beer from the late 19th to early 20th centuries,” said John Gray, the director of the museum. “The support of the Brewers Association allows our staff to collect the more recent history, including the impact of small and independent craft brewers who continue to advance the U.S. beer culture and inspire brewers worldwide.'

The museum currently houses several small but important collections related to brewing and beer consumption in America. The bulk dates from the 1870–1960s, including the collection of former Brewmaster Walter Voigt of Ruxton, Md., which is composed of brewing instruments and tools, advertising materials, beer bottles, trays and taps, as well as technical papers, prints and photographs from Washington, D.C., Baltimore, New York and Pennsylvania. As American brewing continues to expand in scope, scale and impact, the museum is uniquely positioned to document the stories of American brewers and to collect the material culture of the industry for the benefit of scholars, researchers, and the public.

“The craft brewing revolution in America has had a profound social, cultural and economic impact on thiscountry,” said Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Brewers Association. “America is a beer destination. We are honored to support this effort and work with the National Museum of American History to chronicle and showcasethe significant achievements small and independent brewers have made throughout this nation’s history.”

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