There is no question that the American public has an unabashed appetite for history. This is demonstrated in numerous ways from bestsellers by popular historians to tourism at historic sites and museums to the popularity of films and other media depicting versions of the past. Although historians might think that the discourse presented in most of these forums is simplistic and stilted, little doubt exists that it is passionate. This discussion explores a few of the issues affecting the public's deep fascination with the past, especially in the context of the history of science and technology, and the presentation of these issues in the Smithsonian Institution. These thoughts are tentative and speculative, but, I hope, stimulating and worthy of further consideration.

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