Smithsonian Hosts Special Exhibits for Inauguration-Goers

FDR's "fireside chat" microphone. Satirical bronze sculptures of Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon. And an iron wedge Abraham Lincoln used to split wood in the early 1830s. 

These are just a few of the historical oddities the Smithsonian is putting on display for visitors coming to watch President-elect Barack Obama make history Tuesday. 

The Smithsonian Institution, with special exhibitions in place, plans to keep its museum doors open through Inauguration Day, even though hundreds of thousands of spectators are expected to fill the National Mall where the anchors of the Smithsonian network are located. 

Spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas said the Smithsonian has hundreds of security and maintenance workers on hand and hopes to accommodate the crowd. Security will be conducting bag checks at all museums. 

"We'd like it to move as efficiently as it can so people don't stay out in the cold," she said. 

But admission is free and St. Thomas said she hopes visitors to Washington, D.C., this weekend take advantage of the special exhibits. 

At the National Museum of American History, for instance, more than 60 items associated with Lincoln's life will be on display, including the top hat he wore the night he was assassinated. The museum also will feature gowns worn by past first ladies from Mary Todd Lincoln to Helen Taft. 

The American Art Museum and National Museum of the American Indian will have exhibits as well. And the museums are hosting live performances, film festivals, debates, artists' workshops and other special programs over the next four days.