The first time I visited the Missouri History Museum, I wandered into the now deinstalled Lindbergh exhibit. The initial thing that struck me about the gallery was its old brown carpeting and musty smell. A big poster of the Sprit of St. Louis was plastered on one of the walls, and most of the pedestals displayed the famous aviator's trophies and medals. As I strolled through the rooms, I found myself looking at Lindbergh's face, again and again. The man had been a celebrity, and his legacy still remains today (after all, one of St Louis's main streets is called Lindbergh Boulevard.)
And yet there were shady aspects of his past. One of the cases in the corner was covered with a velvet curtain that tastefully concealed Lindbergh's Nazi medals. The medals were a relatively small part of the exhibit, but still, they got me thinking about what else might be missing or hidden from view. What other revealing artifacts had curators deliberately kept in storage? And how many other exhibits in the country were designed like this one— centered on one hero, or one glorious bit of American history?