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Smithsonian Exhibit on Commercial Holiday Displays
WASHINGTON, DC (AP).- Santa Claus is making an early appearance to open a new exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History on the art and business of commercial holiday displays.

The exhibit, which opened Nov. 13, is a first for the museum. It covers the elaborate department store windows and retail displays dating back to the 1920s, as well as the creation of floats for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

During its heyday in the 1950s, the Woodward and Lothrop department store in D.C. was known to have featured live penguins in a window display.

The exhibit follows the research of curator William Bird who examined the history of holiday displays from the early 20th century in a companion book.

It will be on display through the holiday season and much of the next year.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Smithsonian's National Museum of American History | Santa Claus | William Bird |

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