'Nation's Attic' Comes to O.C. in Smithsonian Road Show

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Robert Martin always wanted to visit the Smithsonian Institution in Washington so he could see the "Spirit of St. Louis," the plane Charles Lindbergh used to make a solo flight across the Atlantic. But the Orange County resident for more than 20 years said his finances never allowed it.

On Sunday, Martin finally got an opportunity to view the plane through the Smithsonian's weeklong series of exhibitions, seminars and tours in Fullerton and Santa Ana.

In an hourlong lecture and slide show, visitors to the Bowers Museum were treated to a wondrous look at the treasures of what is sometimes referred to as "the nation's attic."

Three centuries of gimmicks, gadgets and national treasures find their home at the museum. Every year, nearly 200 scholars from the museum travel throughout 25 cities in the United States and around the world as part of the institution's traveling education program.

"The Smithsonian has certain goals it would like to accomplish, and we feel we are doing that through film series and lectures," said Charlene James Duguid, one of the institution's traveling scholars. "We are bringing an education of sorts to the public."

Duguid added that favorite sights of visitors to the museums included Judy Garland's red ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz" (actually one of several pairs that were used in the movie) and Orville and Wilbur Wright's airplane.

'I've been to the museum in Washington about three times," Gina Frank of Santa Ana said, "but I couldn't resist coming to see the treasures again. You never get enough of seeing a good thing."

Duguid also pointed out that inanimate objects were not the only treasures the museum showcased.

"I like to make it a point to tell people . . . about individuals who have contributed to the history of this country and the museum," Duguid said. "They should be admired and appreciated as well."

Along with depicting a wide variety of exotic animals, the slides also highlighted evening dresses worn by the country's first ladies, as well as the hat Harrison Ford wore in the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

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