By Lars Dalseide | April 24 2013 12:36

National Firearms Museum closes the Maltese Falcon exhibit after 3 years

NRA curators Schreier and Sharpe pack up the Maltese Falcon for the trip back to California

Fairfax, Virginia - Almost three years ago today, a true Hollywood legend walked into the National Firearms Museum. Well, the legend rolled more then walked. For it was neither a woman or man who entered the museum — it was a thing. A statue. The Hollywood statue. The Maltese Falcon.

For thirty months and twenty some odd days, the Maltese Falcon has called the National Firearms Museum home. Sitting in a place of honor, beside the .44 Magnum Smith & Wesson revolver Clint Eastwood used in the first Dirty Harry movies, the falcon went practically unnoticed to the untrained eye. But once recognized, it produced the ultimate affect that every curator hopes for when displaying a new artifact — a smile.

"The Maltese Falcon is the quintessential example of Film Noir," said Phil Schreier, Senior Curator for the National Firearms Museum. "It has everything you could ever want. A classic whodunit on The Maltese Falcon wrapped up at the NRA Museum for the trip back to California back alley streets of San Francisco. Sydney Greenstreet as the bad guy searching for the Falcon, Mary Astor plays the damsel in distress and Bogie is everybody's favorite private eye — Sam Spade."

For those unfamiliar with the 1930 Dashiell Hammett , here's the Reader's Digest version.

Miles Archer has been killed. His partner, Sam Spade, is the prime suspect. To clear his name and find his friend's murderer, Spade parries with a devilish woman and collection of bad guys who are trying to find the falcon -- a jewel-encrusted statue intended for Charles V in the sixteenth century.

When the Falcon arrived, there were crowds of staff, anxious curators and a collection of camera crews from local news stations. When it left, a few days ago, the crowds had dwindled down to a couple of curators repacking a crate to the sound of eighteen inch bolts being ravaged by power tools.

"We've been lucky enough to exhibit the Falcon for a few years now," said Schreier. "Though only here for a moment, for an ever fleeting moment, it is one of those experiences that I will always treasure.

"After all, to quote Sam Spade, it's the stuff that dreams are made of."

Now that the Falcon is gone, we can finally share a story about the day, the very day, that the bird was delivered to the National Firearms Museum.

According to sources close to the statue, "a contingency" arrived at the Warner Brothers Museum from the 2009 White House. Top on their list was to see the Maltese Falcon. Alas, it was no longer there. No word on whether a similar visit was scheduled to the NRA Museum.

The original story, posted earlier this month, was pulled due to security concerns while the Falcon was in transit.


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