National Treasures

Oct 31, 2013
Originally published on December 18, 2013 12:18 pm

We hope you've been practicing your Nicolas Cage impression, or have seen his 2004 action thriller National Treasure. In this game, you must name famous items found in the Smithsonian Museum's collection, as described by house musician Jonathan Coulton. We encourage you to answer in the style of Cage's immortal line, "I'm going to steal the Declaration of Independence."

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And joining us right now are Sharyn Horowitz and Gautum Hans.


EISENBERG: Our next game is called National Treasures and when I hear that, I think of the Smithsonian Institution and, of course, our show. Sharyn, Gautum, if you could take any object from your closet, bookshelf, your life, and declare it a national treasure, what would you choose?

SHARYN HOROWITZ: Oh, I can't even pick a tattoo. I would say maybe my hiking boots.

EISENBERG: Your hiking boots. All right. You're a big hiker or they've never been used and therefore should be put in a museum.


HOROWITZ: The former.

EISENBERG: Former? OK. Excellent. And Gautum, what would you choose?

GAUTAM HANS: My standing mixer.

EISENBERG: Your what?

HANS: My standing mixer.

EISENBERG: A standing mixer?

HANS: Yep.

EISENBERG: Jonathan, how about you?

JONATHAN COULTON: I would probably choose the 2004 action movie "National Treasure."


COULTON: Starring Nicholas Cage and featuring this immortal line.


NICHOLAS CAGE: (as Ben Gates) I'm going to steal the Declaration of Independence.

COULTON: He's going to steal the Declaration of Independence.

EISENBERG: Oh, yes, he is.


EISENBERG: He says it so matter-of-factly.

COULTON: Yeah. It's just what he has to do. So in this next challenge I'm going to describe some famous items from the Smithsonian's collections and you will give me the answer in your best Nicholas Cage impression.


COULTON: So, Art, can you give us an example, please?

ART CHUNG: I can indeed. If we said Charles Lindberg flew this single engine plane from New York to Paris in 1927, you would answer: I'm going to steal the Spirit of St. Louis.


HANS: Really?

COULTON: As you can see, it doesn't need to be a good Nicholas Cage impression.

CHUNG: What?


COULTON: No offense, Art. All right. The winner of this game will move on to our Ask Me One More final round at the end of the show. Here we go. The site of this huge piece of cloth over Ft. McHenry in 1814 inspired Francis Scott Key to write a certain patriotic song.


HANS: I'm going to steal the "Star Spangled Banner"?

COULTON: That is correct. It was a terrible impression but that is correct.

HANS: I'm sorry.


EISENBERG: I think that was on par with Art's.

HANS: Art was better than me.

EISENBERG: Gautum, I want you to have more self-esteem for this round, OK?


CHUNG: What about my self-esteem?

EISENBERG: You're fine.


COULTON: You're getting paid.

EISENBERG: Yeah. You're a guru.

COULTON: It's not easy being this Jim Henson puppet who was the first Muppet donated to the National Museum of American History back in 1994.


COULTON: Gautum.

HANS: I'm going to steal Kermit the frog.



COULTON: Yeah. That's the kind of intensity we're looking for. That's correct.

EISENBERG: Yeah. Yeah, you're like a creepy puppet stealer in that moment.

COULTON: This 14 by 20 foot room appears exactly as it did in its owners Massachusetts home at the time she donated it to the Smithsonian. And while you can't walk through it, glimpses from three view ports can whet your bon appetite.


COULTON: Gautum.

HANS: I'm going to steal Julia Childs' kitchen?

COULTON: Yes, that's right.



COULTON: This white one-shoulder dress was created by designer Jason Woo who didn't know it was going to be worn until he saw it on television on January 20, 2009.


COULTON: Gautum.

HANS: I'm going to steal Michelle Obama's inauguration dress?

COULTON: You monster. Yes, that's correct.


COULTON: All right. This is your last question. This upholstered piece of furniture was regularly seen in American living rooms from 1971 to 1979 as a prop on the sitcom "All in the Family."


COULTON: Sharyn.

HOROWITZ: I'm going to steal Archie Bunker's chair.

COULTON: You got it.


COULTON: Art, how did this ultimately very contested game go?

CHUNG: Gautum stole this game and our hearts.



EISENBERG: Thank you, Sharyn. We know that you knew all of the answers. So give Sharyn a huge round of applause.


EISENBERG: Gautum will be moving on to our final round at the end of the show. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.