America's history told through iconic objects

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Benjamin Franklin's walking stick, a piece of the first transatlantic telegraph cable and a Kermit the Frog puppet will join other artifacts Thursday in an exhibition recounting US history.

More than a hundred iconic objects -- both from pop culture and older pieces dating back to the the Pilgrims' 1620 arrival in Plymouth, Massachusetts -- will take visitors on a "journey through the centuries," National Museum of American History chair and curator Bill Yeingst told AFP.

In its chronology of American history, the Smithsonian Institution museum recalls everything from Europeans' first encounters with Native Americans to the historic 2008 presidential election that brought the first African-American president of the United States to the White House.

This historic tale is told by characters both known and unknown, with pieces on display including a fragment of Plymouth Rock, the traditional site of disembarkation of the Mayflower Pilgrims, and a suit worn in Paris by author and diplomat Franklin, one of America's Founding Fathers.

"Our culture is made up of people from all around the world," said Yeingst, calling his show "a rich tapestry of the American experience."

It features national "tragedies like the institution of slavery... but also a government that has worked to correct its mistakes, to give representation to people from around the world," he added.

A silver milk pot bears an engraving showing a character kicking a pack of British tea with his foot in 1774, a year after the Boston Tea Party saw Boston colonists dumped shiploads of taxed British tea into the sea.

The exhibition also takes a look at technological progress, with an 1873 Remington typewriter on display, along with an 1876 Bell telephone, a wheel from a Ford Model T and an Apple computer from the 1980s.

Muhammad Ali's boxing gloves from his 1974 defeat of champion George Foreman for the world Heavyweight title are displayed alongside a black leather vest worn by singer Bob Dylan at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival in which he used electric instruments for the first time.

There is also a baseball signed by legendary slugger Babe Ruth, as well as militant handbooks for gay rights, footage of the September 11, 2001 attacks captured by the Naudet brothers and Dorothy's ruby red slippers worn by Judy Garland in "The Wizard of Oz."

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