At Smithsonian, Americana 'Made in China'

Many patriotic products aren't made in the USA

ByABC News
February 24, 2011, 3:04 PM

Feb. 24, 2011— -- Tens of millions flock to the Smithsonian museums in Washington each year to see Americana -- everything from Abraham Lincoln's top hat to Archie Bunker's chair.

But one thing you'll have a hard time finding is something American in the gift shop.

Take the miniature sculptures of presidents sold at the National Museum of American History, located right on the Mall in the nation's capital.

From the busts of George Washington to Barack Obama, they were made in China.

Last month Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, was so outraged by the situation that he fired off a letter demanding that the museum sell products made in the USA.

"It appears that a museum owned by the people of the United States, celebrating the history of the United States, cannot find companies in this country employing American workers that are able to manufacture statues of our founding fathers, or our current president," Sanders said in a letter to the museum.

"That is pretty pathetic!" he exclaimed. "I was not aware that the collapse of our manufacturing base had gone that far."

But it's not just the Smithsonian. Walk around the capital city's monuments – the great symbols of America – in search of products made in the USA and you might be surprised what you find.

The Lincoln Memorial gift shop sells magnets of the Washington Monument – made in China. A bell – made in China. A toothpick holder – made in China. Plates designed in the US – but made in China. And yes, a Barack Obama coffee mug – made in China.

The Jefferson Memorial gift shop sells actual replicas of the memorial – made in China. Even American flag pins – you guessed it - made in China.

You might spend $400 on souvenirs all over town and not buy a single product made in the USA, not even a keychain of the Supreme Court gavel.