Photo Diary: See the incredible items that didn’t make it into the Independence Through History museum

Photos and story by Jon Miller

Glenn’s new museum exhibit is absurd. It’s incredible, but absolutely absurd.

It’s over-the-top, fascinating, dramatic, and jaw dropping all at the same time. It’s everything you’d want from an exhibit done by Glenn and David Barton.

The big question is where did they get all this?

Only in a bizarre alternate universe does all this stuff find itself together in one room at a hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.

So one might say it was just meant to be this way. I don’t know. What I do know is that I saw the “final” list of approved items before I left for Salt Lake. And what I saw on Monday at the museum had zero resemblance to that list. It was at least three times the size of the original list (already worth $35 million.) And every five minutes, another item would surface:

“Oh look Glenn… did you see this? It’s a letter from Dr. King… the last one he wrote before he was shot…should we use it?”

“Well we can’t leave it out… let’s put it next to the signed photograph of Rosa Parks and above that letter Malcolm X wrote.”

The team working on the museum has worked tirelessly to display all the items beautifully, telling a terrific story of history about the good, the bad, and the ugly, and how the birth America changed the world.

But it definitely didn’t look that way on Monday.

Unpacking it was a mess. It was a scene that would have given any museum curator a stroke and killed him.

Everyone was running around screaming, trying to get everything together before the first museum visitors came…while at the same time trying not to step on George Washington’s hair…or the flag used by the Confederacy when they surrendered the Civil War…Someone almost crushed Abraham Lincoln’s hat while trying to take a five minute break sitting down (which would have been of course in his senate chair too).

Try to picture unpacking a new home except replace all your junk mail with letters from MLK, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Walt Disney….

Replace all your old dusty clothes with Redcoat uniforms from the Revolutionary War, Marcus Luttrell’s actual SEAL uniform…your out-of-style hats with a real hat worn by the Pilgrims…

Replace all your old dusty books and magazines with Marie Antoinette’s own bible, a Geneva Bible from 1590, another Bible that came over to America with Bradford on the Mayflower, a signed copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, and a first edition copy of Common Sense (and not Glenn’s version but the original one Thomas Paine wrote…)

Lastly replace your old furniture with Abe Lincoln’s desk and Joseph Smith’s furniture.

That’s what Monday looked like.

But the “Independence Through History” exhibit is so amazing not because it has better stuff than all the others (which it likely does) but because it’s so unconventional and actually makes history interesting.

The first thing you’ll see when you walk in is a marble bust of Glenn himself.

But of course this bust moves and talks just like the ones on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland.

Glenn (the statue) whines about an itch that’s bugging him and how he can’t scratch it because he doesn’t have any arms.

Then he starts to talk about the real reason for building this museum, and why it’s different than any other you’ll see:

“History is really boring,” the Glenn-bust says dryly.

As a kid, nothing’s worse than when your parents take you to a museum. But he explains this needs to change if we want to save our country’s future. People need to actually see and experience all the real stuff so you can learn the real story of America.

This exhibit tells the story of why—for thousands of years—men only kindled fire by candle, but then America came along, and BOOM man created electricity, and cars, and airplanes, computers, and iPhones.

Why did this happen after America was born? What makes America different?

To really learn the answer, you’ll have to see the exhibit. But for fun, I’ve included a list of items that DIDN’T make the “final cut.”

These were just sitting on a luggage cart behind some curtains. So I asked a security guard if I could go look through them. He said yes, so I went through them and took some photos:

Among these items:

1. A bloodstained piece of leather from the limo John F. Kennedy was shot in

2. A sign that read “Drinking Fountain: White/Colored” with arrows pointing in opposite directions.


3. A Restroom sign saying the same thing


4. Handwritten letter from Ed White, the first American to walk in space


5. Handwritten note from the Native-American Geronimo.

6. A strand of Abraham Lincoln’s hair


7. A strand of William Seward’s hair (Lincoln’s secretary of state)


8. A strand of Robert E. Lee’s hair


9. An original proclamation written by John Jay


10. An envelope signed by Davy Crockett

  • Anonymous

    As an immigrant to North America with European schooling I believe this incredibly important to all. History and geography (very much related) were my favorites, this stuff is amazing . In Europe this would be sitting in dusty museums behind ropes, or even worse in some basement. (one reason there is a lot of it the other there are many secrets still hidden!).

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    As
    an immigrant to North America with European schooling I believe this
    incredibly important to all. History and geography (very much related)
    were my favorites, this stuff is amazing . In Europe this would be
    sitting in dusty museums behind ropes, or even worse in some basement.
    (one reason there is a lot of it the other there are many secrets still
    hidden!).

  • Anonymous

    And the ubiquitous question — from all this history, what will we learn from it, and will we repeat it?

    I am afraid that the ones that will repeat the negative aspects of our history are the ones that would disparage Glenn’s efforts to educate us, and it will impact all of us, indeed, already is in great measure.

    But Glenn is doing a heroic thing in all this effort — I pray it will be effective on a significant part of us. May we learn, and remember….

    Remember Benghazi. Who said: “Stand down.”?

    Laus Deo