The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History announced at the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America in Philadelphia last week 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.
Museum staff will work with the Brewers Association, American brewers and beer historians to document and collect the stories and history of modern American brewing. 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,” says 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 but important collections related to brewing and beer consumption in America. The bulk dates from the 1870–1960s, including the collection of former Brewmaster Walter Voigt of Ruxton, Md., which is composed of brewing instruments and tools, advertising materials, beer bottles, trays and taps, as well as technical papers, prints and photographs from Washington, DC, Baltimore, New York and Pennsylvania.
“The craft brewing revolution in America has had a profound social, cultural and economic impact on this country,” says Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Brewers Association. “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.”