When she saw the specially arranged autumn leaves and choreographed clothing and jewelry, Sen. Susan Collins realized that an October shoot featuring actress Meryl Streep was no ordinary Capitol Hill photo opportunity.

Collins, R-Maine, was one of several prominent women included in a photo taken by Annie Leibovitz on the Capitol lawn in October.

The photo was for a cover story on Streep in Vogue’s January edition, which hits the newsstands on Dec. 20.

As the shutter clicked, fans were used to help arrange the dead leaves – brought in bags to decorate the still-green lawn – just so around Streep, Collins and others in a group who support building a National Women’s History Museum on the National Mall.

Collins’ dark gray suit, blue sweater and pearls were picked for her after Leibovitz and Vogue editors studied photos of all the participants wearing different outfits.

“It amazed me the amount of work that went into it,” Collins said in an interview Monday. “It was well planned and choreographed. In advance of the shoot it was decided how they wanted us to stand and in what position each of us would be in. Nothing was left to chance.”

Streep used the cover story to plug the museum project she has long backed.

Collins is an author of a bill to sell a piece of federal land at 12th Street and Independence Avenue to the museum.

No taxpayer money would be used for the project, Collins said, and the museum would be required to pay fair market value for the site. The money to build and maintain the museum would be privately raised.

Among the others in the photo are former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.; poet Maya Angelou; presidential daughters Barbara Bush and Patricia Nixon Cox and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., House author of the museum land sale bill.

The magazine story can be read online at: www.vogue.com/magazine/article/meryl-streep-force-of-nature.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at: [email protected]