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Rep. Andy Kim’s famous blue suit from Jan. 6 is now a piece of American history. Here’s why

A photo of Rep. Andy Kim wearing a blue suit while cleaning up the U.S. Capital Rotunda on Jan. 6, went viral and now the Smithsonian will archive the suit

Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., after protesters stormed the Capitol in Washington, on Wednesday.
Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., cleans up debris and trash strewn across the floor in the early morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, after protesters stormed the Capitol in Washington, on Wednesday. The congressman’s suit has been donated to a collection of artifacts the Smithsonian is gathering about the political history of January 2021 for the National Museum of American History, Kim announced on Tuesday.
Andrew Harnik, Associated Press

A blue suit worn by Rep. Andy Kim on Jan. 6, made famous in a photo of the congressman cleaning up the U.S. Capitol Rotunda after the attempted insurrections, will now be a part of American history.

The congressman’s now-iconic blue suit has been donated to a collection of artifacts the Smithsonian is gathering about the political history of January 2021 for the National Museum of American History, Kim announced on Tuesday.

  • “6 months ago today I wore this blue suit as I cleaned the Capitol after the insurrection, now I just donated it to the Smithsonian. Jan6 must never be forgotten,” the congressman said on Twitter at the beginning of a 17-tweet thread posted on Tuesday. “While some try to erase history, I will fight to tell the story so it never happens again.”

The history of Kim’s blue suit

Kim, D-N.J., said he’d purchased the now-famous blue suit off the rack during a J. Crew holiday sale and had originally planned to wear it to President Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. On the morning of Jan. 6, he said, the Democratic congressman decided to wear the suit after reading that his party had seized the U.S. Senate during a pair of runoff elections in Georgia.

  • “I thought what better way to give the suit meaning than to wear it when I confirm the electoral college and then later to the inauguration,” Kim wrote on Twitter.
  • Kim said he wore the blue suit for the last time on Jan. 13, when he, and a House majority, voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection” — the former president’s second impeachment.
  • “I told the Smithsonian yes to donating the blue suit because the telling of the story of Jan6 isn’t optional, it is necessary. There are many stories of Jan6. Mine is just one. We cannot heal as a nation unless we have truth. Let truth be truth,” Kim wrote on Twitter of his reason to donate the suit.

Smithsonian is building a January 2021 exhibit

In January, the Smithsonian announced it was collecting items for its National Museum of American History that represent the political atmosphere of January 2021.

  • The American history collection would include “artifacts related to the political events of January 2021, including the storming of the Capitol, political rallies, the second impeachment of President Donald J. Trump, and the inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden,” the Smithsonian said in Jan. 14 press release.
  • The Smithsonian said it was conducting “rapid-response collecting,” which ensures that items like posters and banners of a moment are not lost, and that the artifacts it collected would not interfere with ongoing criminal or federal investigations.
  • “As the nation continues to wrestle with cascading pandemics — from COVID-19 to racial inequities to economic and political crises — the National Museum of American History will continue to document and educate,” the Smithsonian added.

Kim said it will be “surreal” to take his kids to the Smithsonian some day to show them the blue suit and to teach them about Jan. 6.

  • “I hope they grow to know the truth of Jan6, but I also hope the story ultimately is one of hope and resilience. I hope that is what they and others see in the blue suit,” the congressman wrote in conclusion.