Craft Goes to the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History announced at the Craft Brewers Conference in Philadelphia that it will launch a three-year initiative to “collect, document and preserve the history of brewing, craft brewers and the beer industry to explore how the beverage and brewing connect to larger themes in American history.”

A press release stated that the initiative is made possible through a donation from the Brewers Association. It added:

Museum staff have researched and documented American food and beverage history for more than two decades and will work with the Brewers Association, American brewers and beer historians to document and collect the stories and history of modern American brewing. Beer and brewing have been an important part of the American experience since before the nation’s founding and into the present day, and beer production for the past 30 years has been connected to significant social, cultural, economic and environmental movements across the country. The team will explore the unique connections between brewing and broader themes, including advertising, agriculture, industry, innovation, business and community life.

“Brewing has a long and deep connection to our country’s history, and the museum’s collections explore the history of beer from the late 19th to early 20th centuries,” said John Gray, the director of the museum. “The support of the Brewers Association allows our staff to collect the more recent history, including the impact of small and independent craft brewers who continue to advance the U.S. beer culture and inspire brewers worldwide.

The museum currently houses several small collections related to brewing and beer consumption in America. The bulk dates from the 1870–1960s.

“The craft brewing revolution in America has had a profound social, cultural and economic impact on this country,” Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Brewers Association, said for the press release. “America is a beer destination. We are honored to support this effort and work with the National Museum of American History to chronicle and showcase the significant achievements small and independent brewers have made throughout this nation’s history.”