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Mad Men Donates More Than 50 Items to the National Museum of American History

Cast members gathered last week to present the Smithsonian with artifacts from the iconic series.
Left to right: AMC president Charlie Collier, cast members John Slattery, Christina Hendricks, Jon Hamm, and creator Matthew Weiner. Photograph by John Scarpinato.

Whether you’re a fan of Mad Men or not, it’s hard to escape the buzz as AMC’s hit show heads into the second half of its final season. The show, which follows the professional lives of 1960s Madison Avenue advertising men and women, has won multiple Golden Globe and Emmy awards. It has also been praised for its historical authenticity, and that’s exactly why the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has welcomed donations from creator, writer, and executive producer Matthew Weiner and the cast.

The objects, presented by Weiner and cast members–Jon Hamm, John Slattery, and Christina Hendricks–arrive as the museum prepares for its first ever business history exhibition, American Enterprise. The exhibit, which explores the advertising industry, will use artifacts from the show to help portray the country’s “creative revolution” from the 1950s and ‘60s. American Enterprise will be part of the museum’s first floor’s innovation wing scheduled to open on July 1st.

Susan Fruchter, deputy director of the National Museum of American History, even joked last week about how this isn’t the first Smithsonian/Mad Men collaboration. The show takes historical accuracy very seriously and once called the museum for an important consultation. “The advertising collection received a call several years ago from the man behind the show with a question,” she said. “’How was a telegram delivered in 1963?’”

Clothes worn by characters Don and Betty Draper form part of the exhibit. Photograph by John Scarpinato.

With more than 50 donated items, the exhibit includes iconic Don and Betty Draper costumes designed by Janie Bryant, a selection of props like business cards, liquor bottles, and an empty package of Lucky Strike cigarettes, as well as notes and scripts from Weiner. Each object adds to the museum’s entertainment collection, which already includes iconic items like Dorothy’s ruby slippers and Archie Bunker’s famous chair.

The show’s end is quickly approaching, but both Weiner and AMC president Charlie Collier are excited about its preservation at the museum. So before you get emotional about the end of the Mad Men era, take solace in knowing that its influence will not be forgotten. “They say that all good things must come to an end, and all great things come to the Smithsonian,” says Collier.

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