First Lady Dr. Jill Biden is set to break tradition by donating some of her inaugural attire to the Smithsonian Institute—but it won’t be ball gowns.
The First Lady is instead donating the blue dress and coat ensemble she wore when President Biden took the oath of office, as well as an ivory silk wool dress and cashmere coat ensemble that she wore later that evening.
The tradition of donating First Ladies’ gowns to the Smithsonian began in 1912, when Helen Taft contributed a dress she wore to her husband’s 1909 inauguration.
Taft’s dress, as well as gowns dating all the way back to Martha Washington, are among the more than 1,000 items on display at the Smithsonian’s First Ladies Collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
However, the Bidens took office on January 20, 2021 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, when large indoor gatherings—like balls—were discouraged. In a nod to the historic nature of President Biden’s swearing-in, the couple’s matching face masks will also become part of the current First Lady’s display.
Dr. Biden’s outfits will be formally added to First Ladies Collection at a formal ceremony on Wednesday, and the museum will reopen to the public on Thursday.
The ceremony will be Dr. Biden’s first public appearance since January 11, when doctors removed a cancerous lesion from above her right eye and another from her chest, which doctors recommended “in an abundance of caution.”