This collection represents the National Museum of American History's efforts to build a focused collection of objects and photographs that reflects specific aspects of the hurricane's impact along the Gulf Coast, the rescue of survivors and the recovery of local communities. In addition to the more than 20 objects collected and more than 900 photographs taken by museum staff during the week of Sept. 26-30, the museum is still seeking tools used to escape from homes (such as sledgehammers and axes); homemade floatation devices and hand-lettered signs calling for help and rescue.

Objects, photographs and documents will be preserved permanently at the museum and will help future historians and visitors comprehend the natural disaster, its effects and the long-term consequences. At this point, the museum has no plans for an exhibition of the Hurricane Katrina artifacts.