Smithsonian 'Sent Representatives' to Collect ‘Occupy' Memorabilia to 'Document Spirit of American Democracy'

By Lucas Zellers | November 11, 2011 | 12:22pm EST

Demonstrators affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement Kelley Brannon, right, and Stefan Fink celebrate the start a march from the encampment at Zuccotti Park to Washington DC, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

( – The National Museum of American History sent representatives out to collect materials from the Occupy Wall Street protests and "its various offshoots" to “document the spirit of American democracy and the American political process,” according to a statement released by the museum which is part of the federally funded Smithsonian Institution.

The Museum is collecting the Occupy materials as part of its “long tradition of documenting how Americans participate in the life of the nation,” the statement says.

The museum says it hs no plans to display the artifacts collected.

Participants in the Occupy protests inhabit public spaces to raise awareness of political corruption and economic unfairness.

Occupy Wall Street’s Web site states that the protest is “fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process,” the website says.

Materials from the protests are being collected for the Museum’s political history collection, which documents the political life of the nation through artifacts that range from campaign materials, like campaign posters and protest signs, to presidential possessions, like the inkwell from which President Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation.

“The Museum collects from contemporary events because many of the materials are ephemeral and if not collected immediately, would be lost to the historical record,” according to the statement.

The museum has also recently collected materials from the Tea Party rally against the Obamacare bill in March, the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” hosted by satirical news comedian Jon Stewart, and the Obama/McCain presidential campaigns.

The Occupy Wall Street movement began on Sept. 17, when about 1,000 people converged on the financial district of Lower Manhattan.  Since then, the protests have spread to over 100 cities in the U.S. and 1,500 cities globally, according to the protest’s Web site.

The National Museum of American History is one of 19 museums in the Smithsonian Institution. In 2010, 61 percent of the Smithsonian’s $1.1 billion budget came from direct federal appropriations of tax dollars. Another 11 percent came from federal contracts. Only 16 percent -- $166.6 million – came from private donations.

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