#Smithsonian Institute Costume Collection – Made in China?

Profusion of Peonies

I received a beautiful gift from my cousin in the mail Saturday from the Smithsonian Institute’s Costume Collection. The silk scarf was created by women’s designers from the Twentieth Century. The card accompanying the scarf states “Income from our sales supports the chartered educational purposes and activities of the Smithsonian Institution.”

I have always been a supporter of the Smithsonian, which was created the U.S. Congress. So imagine my surprise when I read the tag attached to the scarf.IMG_0441 How could this happen? I cut the tag off immediately because it so embarrassed me. I’m not against China, but come on! The Smithsonian is created, mandated, and overseen by our Congress. It seems the least that could be done would be to find a U.S. business to make these works of art.

From the Smithsonian Online Store – Here’s the description of my lovely scarf:

This gorgeous Profusion of Peonies Scarf is lushly printed with peonies, gardenias and glorious garden flowers. Pastel stripes border the ends. 100% silk. Imported.  58″l. x 14″w.

Museum Provenance

Adaptation of a floral scarf in our National Museum of American History’s costume collections.

I’ve searched the site and no where does it say these products are made in China. I know my cousin didn’t realize it. I’m not sure what to make of it except to say that I plan on sending this post to David Muir at ABC Nightly News to see if perhaps his series on Made in America might investigate. I plan to write a letter to the Smithsonian Institute asking for an explanation.

The Smithsonian Institution was created by Congress in 1846 as "an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge."
The Smithsonian Institution was created by Congress in 1846 as “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.”

If our own Congress-created institutions can’t use U.S. manufacturers, how can we hope to lessen our dependence on foreign powers while strengthening our own economy?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Am I making too much of one little scarf and label?

Published by P. C. Zick

I write. It's as simple and as complicated as that. Storytelling creates our cultural legacy.

2 thoughts on “#Smithsonian Institute Costume Collection – Made in China?

  1. It’s a difficult issue. Consumer expectations for lowest possible prices lead to the ‘outsourcing’ of manufacturing to countries with cheaper labour and production costs. It’s horrible when it happens to products of national pride but it’s part of a much wider issue.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree. And here in the States, there has been such a large push to “Buy in the USA” to help keep U.S. manufacturers strong. It certainly surprised me, and I understand we do need to outsource, but this is a design series from U.S. designers celebrating American history. It felt like a slap in the face when I read the label. By the way, I contacted the Smithsonian, David Muir, and ABC News through various channels but as of today I’ve received no response. Not surprising, I suppose.

      Liked by 1 person

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