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Museum will have a ball with First Lady's dress

Michelle Obama said she'll always cherish the moment she slipped in to her inaugural ballgown, a one-shouldered, white chiffon design she wore for her first Cinderella-like spins on the dance floor as US First Lady.

She will have to hold on to the memories, because the gown is not exactly hers anymore.

In keeping with tradition, Mrs Obama donated the Jason Wu design to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.

It will go on public display in a new gallery for the museum's first ladies exhibit, featuring Presidents' wives from Mamie Eisenhower to the present.

Dotted with beads and covered in fabric petals, Mrs Obama's gown was a star attraction at 10 inaugural balls held on a frigid January 20, 2009, to celebrate Barack Obama's swearing-in earlier that day as the nation's 44th president.

Mrs Obama said memories came rushing back after she saw the gown for the first time since taking it off after that whirlwind night more than a year ago -- of the freezing cold weather, how hectic the day was and how she had less than an hour to get ready for the balls.

"But I'll never forget the moment that I slipped on this beautiful gown," said Mrs Obama, who wore clothes by another up-and-coming designer to the event -- a black and white silk twill, off-the-shoulder dress by Prabal Gurung of New York.

"I remember how just luscious I felt as the president and I were announced on to the stage for the first of many dances," she said.All first ladies since 1912 have contributed to the collection, though not all first ladies part with their inaugural gowns.