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First Lady donates inaugural gown to Smithsonian

The first dady dances with her husband last winter.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A year after her husband became the nation's 43rd president, first lady Laura Bush donated the inaugural ball gown she wore that rainy night of January 20 to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

The first lady, wearing a green dress, attended a news conference Sunday at the museum announcing the donation.

The red Chantilly lace and silk satin dress with crystal beading, created by Dallas-based designer Michael Faircloth, will become part of the museum's first ladies collection. Bush also donated a matching coat, shoes and bag.

Laura Bush originally planned to donate the gown in October, but the presentation was postponed due to the September 11 attacks.

January 20, 2001: 'We've got some dancing to do,' says Bush 

The Smithsonian Museum began exhibiting the clothing of presidential wives in 1914 when Helen Taft -- wife of the 27th president, William Howard Taft, who served from 1909 to 1913 -- donated her inaugural gown.

Afterward, donating and displaying first ladies' inaugural gowns became a Washington tradition. Laura Bush's dress will join those of 13 other first ladies, including the gown worn by her mother-in-law, Barbara Bush, in 1989.

The dresses are part of a larger Smithsonian exhibition called "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden."

The collection brings together more than 900 objects traced to the country's presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush.

Abraham Lincoln's top hat and the desk on which Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence are among the exhibit's most prominent historical items.


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