The Smithsonian Breaks Bad at the National Museum of American History
The Smithsonian Institution just scored a bag of Breaking Bad’s infamous blue meth. Earlier this week, the cast of the lauded television show—in which a high school chemistry teacher resorts to making meth when diagnosed with cancer—reunited in Washington, DC, to present a donation of artifacts to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
Consisting mostly of clothing and props, these pieces of memorabilia include the Tyvek suits and gas masks that main characters Walter White and Jesse Pinkman wear while cooking meth, cups from the fictional fast food chain Los Pollos Hermanos, and a “Better Call Saul” matchbook. There’s also the pork pie hat that Walter White (played by actor Bryan Cranston) wore as his anti-hero alias Heisenberg, the Drug Enforcement Administration ID badge of Walter’s brother-in-law Hank Schrader, and an iconic purple corkscrew.
The addition of these items to the Smithsonian museum’s collection underlines the multi-Emmy-Award-winning Breaking Bad’s importance in American television history and in our collective understanding of the American Dream. John Gray, director of the National Museum of American History, explains in a statement that these items “help us document the ways in which American entertainment reflects and influences our lives.” He went on to note that Breaking Bad—which concluded its five-season run in 2013—“offers us templates for understanding and confronting social issues.”
Breaking Bad’s creator Vince Gilligan was in Washington for the announcement, along with actors Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Jonathan Banks, and RJ Mitte. Gilligan and museum officials delivered remarks, some of which were documented on Twitter—including a photo of Cranston trying on the Heisenberg hat for old times’ sake.
Unfortunately, there are no plans to actually display these Breaking Bad artifacts until 2018, when the American history museum’s new exhibition on American culture is slated to open in DC. In that exhibition, Breaking Bad will join the likes of Mad Men, The Wonder Years, and Seinfeld as key cultural influencers.