Ends September 15
The Anacostia River, which flows 8.5 miles from Bladensburg, Maryland, through some of the poorest wards of Washington, D.C., was so abused and neglected for so long it was called the “Forgotten River.” But now it’s undergoing a multiyear, multibillion-dollar restoration. To show how riverfront development has influenced urban life, for good and ill, the Anacostia Community Museum has organized “Reclaiming the Edge: Urban Waterways and Civic Engagement,” an exhibition of artwork and research highlighting watershed moments in other cities from London to Louisville.
Ends October 27
Together for the first time: Amerigo Vespucci, Samuel Adams, Mary Pickford, Chuck Berry and the poet Ed Dorn (above: in a portrait by R.B. Kitaj, 1966). They’re among the 34 subjects in the exhibition “Recent Acquisitions” at the National Portrait Gallery. “We are always looking for portraits made from direct encounters between the artists and the subjects,” says curator Brandon Fortune, “because one always finds a lot of energy there.”
January 26-April 21
Orchids grow in almost any setting save glaciers, but they thrive in the warmer climes of Latin America—where they’re used not just as ornaments, but also to flavor tortillas and make glue. Book a tropical getaway to “Orchids of Latin America,” at the Natural History Museum, to discover how the flowers figure in regional traditions and to take in the decidedly unwintry sight of some 600 orchids from the Smithsonian Gardens.
Play and Work
In many Native American communities, the trappings of youth—toy animals, musical instruments, special clothing (above: a Seminole boy’s shirt, c. 1925) are playthings with a purpose. “As We Grow: Traditions, Toys, Games,” at the American Indian Museum, shows how some 70 tribal communities use these amusements to give children a sense of what is expected of grown-ups.
Tour of Duty
January 12, 2013-January 24, 2014
In 1776, George Washington received the first Congressional Gold Medal. In 2010, it was bestowed on the 19,000 Japanese-Americans who served in World War II with the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service. The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service will take that medal to New Orleans, Honolulu, L.A., San Francisco, Portland, Chicago and Houston before it’s displayed at the American History Museum.