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Dogs, masks and Mexican festivals

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Squared Away

Pioneers traveling west along the Great Platte River Road through the Nebraska Territory in the 19th century packed only necessities, which, to them, included quilts. More than 50 quilts from the era, loaned by Nebraska museums, are at the Renwick Gallery through January 21.

Festivities

For the Nahuas of northeastern Mexico, carnival marks the shift from the dry to the rainy season. Through February 15, the Natural History Museum shows 150 photographs of indigenous Mexican festivals by Texas-based George O. Jackson de Llano.

Native Tales

The Nuxalk of British Columbia use masks to tell ancestral stories during potlatches. Objects from 11 Pacific Northwest societies are at the American Indian Museum's Heye Center in New York City to May 18.

Sitting Pretty

Best known for his etchings of Rome, Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78) also created interiors and influenced furniture designers, such as Thomas Hope. At New York City's Cooper-Hewitt through January 20: more than 100 pieces by Piranesi and those he inspired.

If Only Dogs Could Read

When were dogs first domesticated? About 135,000 years ago, far earlier than once thought. Do dogs see in color? Yes, but not as much as we do. Does a dog recognize itself in a mirror? Not really. Why not? Paw through Dogs: A Natural History by Jake Page, new from Smithsonian Books.

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