Jill Biden donates her Inauguration Day outfits to Smithsonian's first ladies exhibit

"I'm deeply honored to play a small part in a big moment," she said.

January 25, 2023, 3:54 PM

First lady Jill Biden on Wednesday gave both of her 2021 inaugural outfits to The First Ladies Collection, part of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

Biden presented her ocean blue dress and matching overcoat, designed by Alexandra O'Neill, which she wore to the presidential swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 20, 2021, and her evening inaugural attire -- an ivory silk wool dress and cashmere coat designed by Gabriela Hearst.

"Clothing is an art and articulation. It's a manifestation of a moment of time -- it's history," Biden said Wednesday. "I'm deeply honored to play a small part in a big moment of our history, alongside two visionary designers."

PHOTO: President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks show celebrating his inauguration on the National Mall from the Truman Balcony at the White House Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks show celebrating his inauguration on the National Mall from the Truman Balcony at the White House Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Both Hearst and O'Neill attended Wednesday's event and shared their sentiment and thanks for the first lady and Smithsonian.

"As a designer, I couldn't think of a better muse," Hearst said to Biden. "You use your platform to service as an educator."

Biden's matching face masks for each outfit will also be displayed in the exhibit.

"They're just pieces of small cloth, but they represent the enormity of what we all faced at the time," she said.

Wednesday's exhibit was the first time since Jan. 11 that has Biden made a public appearance, after having a minor medical procedure to remove lesions and cancerous tissue.

PHOTO: President-elect Joe Biden takes the oath of office from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts as his wife First Lady-elect Jill Biden stands next to him during the 59th presidential inauguration in Washington, Jan. 20, 2021.
President-elect Joe Biden takes the oath of office from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts as his wife First Lady-elect Jill Biden stands next to him during the 59th presidential inauguration in Washington, Jan. 20, 2021.
Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The collection features 27 dresses from first ladies including Jacqueline Kennedy, Michelle Obama and Melania Trump, and other items of historical significance, according to the Smithsonian.

"The First Ladies Collection is one of the most enduring and popular exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution," Anthea Hartig, the Elizabeth MacMillan director at the National Museum of American History, said in a statement.

The exhibit will be available to the public at the National Museum of American History starting Thursday at 10 a.m. ET.

Wrapping up her speech on Wednesday, Biden said: "I look forward to adding some men's wear to this gallery in the future."

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