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The 1980s: A Decade Collection

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This is a topical collection about American life and politics in the 1980s. Resources in this collection might be helpful to students and teachers working on projects about the decade. It is not meant to be completely comprehensive, but rather includes highlights of the Smithsonian's collection spanning art, popular culture, social trends, leadership, and technology.

Teachers and students might copy and adapt this collection to suit their needs; highlighting a specific aspect of life in the 1980s and adding annotations and additional resources.

tags: Eighties, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, rap, detente, Vietnam, politics, decade, Cold War, Olympics, boycott, space shuttle, star wars, Reaganomics, trickle-down

Standing Tall

National Portrait Gallery

"I Want My MTV" Button

National Museum of American History

I'm After Communists!

National Portrait Gallery

The Emperor's New Clothes

National Portrait Gallery

Ronald Reagan

National Portrait Gallery

Your Ship, Captain

National Portrait Gallery

Olympiad 1980

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Sandra Day O'Connor

National Portrait Gallery

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Interview

National Portrait Gallery

U.S. Out of Grenada

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

The Cardboard Messiah

National Portrait Gallery

High on Cocaine

National Portrait Gallery

Game Boy

National Museum of American History

Space Shuttle Challenger

National Portrait Gallery

Molly Ringwald

National Portrait Gallery

Berlin Wall fragment, Berlin, Germany, 1961

National Museum of American History

Environmental Button

National Museum of American History

44c Bart Simpson single

National Postal Museum

Cindy Sherman

National Portrait Gallery

Untitled (No), from the Untitled Portfolio

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Carolina Herrera

National Portrait Gallery

Jean-Michel Basquiat

National Portrait Gallery

Fab 5 Freddy

National Portrait Gallery

sound recording: Bustin' Loose Part 1

National Museum of American History

Julian Schnabel

National Portrait Gallery

Keith Haring

National Portrait Gallery

R2-D2, from Return of the Jedi

National Museum of American History

Jacket from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

National Museum of American History

Dirty Dancing

National Portrait Gallery

Michael Jackson

National Portrait Gallery

Madonna

National Portrait Gallery

Tambourine used on stage at Wembley Stadium during Prince's Nude Tour

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Photograph of Big Daddy Kane getting a shape up

National Museum of African American History and Culture