Sunday, February 28, 2010

Smithsonian Museum caption FAIL

During my brief trip to Washington, DC on Saturday, I went to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History and took in their extensive and impressive America on the Move exhibit.

I came upon this picture, and its caption, at a section of the exhibit that focused on the Interstate Highway system. If you're from Houston, you'll immediately notice the problem:
For those of you who don't recognize the error: the caption is wrong. That is not a picture of I-10. That's I-45 (the Gulf Freeway) northbound at Scott Street, headed towards downtown. It's clearly identified as I-45 by the third gantry sign from the left. And I'm very familiar with this particular stretch of highway because I drive it almost everyday (a huge bottleneck, by the way, but that's a subject of a future post).

Yes, it's nit-picky. But. The Smithsonian is one of the most prestigious, most respected and most well-funded archival institutions in the world. It's safe to say that people assume their exhibits to be well-researched and completely accurate. But if they get a little detail like this wrong, then what other tidbits of information in their otherwise intricate and well-presented exhibits are incorrect?

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