Release: Smithsonian Pledges to Sell More American-Made Gifts

WASHINGTON, March 9 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today welcomed a commitment by the Smithsonian Institution to sell only made-in-America products at a gift shop in the National Museum of American History.

Museum executives also told Sanders they will seek more American suppliers for the merchandise – everything from flags to coffee mugs to souvenir busts of American presidents – sold at gift shops at all of its popular museums along the National Mall.
After meeting with museum executives yesterday in Sanders’ office on Capitol Hill, the senator called the commitment to sell more American-made products a step in the right direction.

Museum executives said one history museum gift shop, called “The Price of Freedom,” will sell only merchandise manufactured in the United States. The new policy will take effect within three months, they said, in time for the busy summer vacation tourist season. More domestically-made items also will be sold at gift shops at the Air and Space Museum, the Natural History Museum and the museums that house collections of art by American painters and artists from around the world.

If the Smithsonian does not follow through on its pledge, Sanders said he was prepared to introduce legislation that would make the taxpayer-supported museums sell more merchandise made in America.

Sanders in January first questioned why a history museum gift shop stocked bronze-colored busts of U.S. presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama that are “crafted in China.”

“Given the state of the American economy, I would urge the National Museum of American History to do its very best to find American companies to manufacture the products that it sells,” Sanders said in a letter to Brent D. Glass, the history museum director. Sanders asked why a museum owned by the people of the United States, celebrating the history of the United States, cannot find companies in this country employing American workers that are able to manufacture statues of our founding fathers.

Some 50,000 manufacturing plants in the U.S. were closed over the past decade, and more than 5.4 million good-paying manufacturing jobs were lost as companies took advantage of cheap labor overseas. “This clearly is one of the factors contributing to the substantial shrinking of the middle class that we have been seeing in the last several decades," Sanders said.