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Flags at the Smithsonian

In celebration of Flag Day, we've collected a variety of flags from all around the Smithsonian to explore and learn about.

"We were like pigeons tied by the legs to be shot at," wrote one soldier who defended Ft. McHenry from British attack 200 years ago this weekend. The attack on the Maryland fort lasted 25 hours. When it was over, Francis Scott Key saw the American flag raised over the fort and wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner," the song that would become our national anthem. Our suggestion for how to commemorate the bicentennial: enjoy the festivities at Fort McHenry in person or on CSPAN.

Children Playing at Dockside, ca.1939-1942, William H. Johnson, tempera and pen and ink with pencil on paper, 15 3/8 x 12 3/8 in. (38.9 x 31.3 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation, 1967.59.146

Soldiers Training, ca. 1942, William H. Johnson, oil on plywood, 37 3/4 x 49 1/4 in. (95.9 x 125.1 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation, 1967.59.582

American Flag Whirligig, mid 20th century, unidentified artist, painted iron and carved and painted wood 28 1/4 x 38 1/2 x 28 1/4 in. (71.8 x 97.8 x 71.8 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson 1986.65.371

Flag Holder, 19th century, unidentified artist, carved and painted wood 20 7/8 x 14 1/4 x 3 1/2 in. (53.0 x 36.2 x 8.9 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson 1986.65.80

Sled Decorated with Stars and Stripes, late 19th century, unidentified artist, painted wood with metal runners, sleigh bell, and leather strap 9 x 49 x 17 in. (22.9 x 124.5 x 43.2 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson 1986.65.88

Lift Up Thy Voice and Sing, circa 1942-1944, William H. Johnson, oil on paperboard 25 1/2 x 21 1/4 in. (64.9 x 54.0 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Harmon Foundation 1967.59.616

Beaded Whimsy, Niagara Falls style, circa 1900, Unidentified Seneca/Iroquois Artist, glass beads on cardboard-reinforced cotton with wool and sawdust 15 7/8 x 7 x 2 3/8 in. (40.2 x 17.7 x 6.0 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson 1986.65.356

Grandad and the Kid, Kansas, 1917, unidentified photographer, photographic print with applied oil color sight 8 x 6 7/8 in. (20.2 x 17.4 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Moore 2002.48.29

There were more than 15 states when the Star-Spangled Banner was made, but there are only 15 stars on the flag. More flag facts on the blog.