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Smithsonian Expands Skateboard Collection

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A skateboarding demonstration in front of the National Museum of American History took place as part of the Smithsonian's Innoskate festival.
Jacob Fenston
A skateboarding demonstration in front of the National Museum of American History took place as part of the Smithsonian's Innoskate festival.

There's not usually a skate ramp on the National Mall. But this weekend, a temporary one in front of the National Museum of American History hosted skating demonstrations and panel discussions. The event was to celebrate the expansion of the museum's new skateboard collection.

Rodney Mullen is sometimes called the godfather of street skating. But when he started at age 10, in the mid-1970s, skateboarders certainly weren't rubbing elbows with museum bigwigs.

"I think back to the days in my garage and all the times I'm booted out of places, and then suddenly I'm welcomed by all these brilliant people," says Mullen. "The director of the American History Museum is out here welcoming us with open arms."

John Gray, the director of the National Museum of American History, says skateboarding has gone from the realm of outsiders and rebels, to the mainstream.

The museum received donations of more than 20 historic skateboards and other items, including the very first board of skating legend Tony Hawk.

“I got it when I was 9-years-old in 1977 from my older brother Steve,” he says. The skateboard that got him started, more than 30 years ago, is now part of the Smithsonian’s collection.

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