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Experience the life cycles of stars and galaxies, such as Centaurus A galaxy, shown here, through January 2012 at the National Museum of Natural History. (NMNH, SI / NASA)

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An African Melting Pot
The Benue River Valley in Nigeria has long been a conduit of cultural exchange between ethnic groups. See the diverse range of carvings, statues and masks created in this region in “Central Nigeria Unmasked,” at the African Art Museum through March 2012.

America’s Top Models
In the 19th century, U.S. law required a model with each patent application. Through November 2013 at American Art, appreciate the ingenious craftsmanship of 32 intricate works from the era.

Seeing Stars
High-powered telescopes can capture the cosmos like never before. Through January 2013, experience the life cycles of stars and galaxies through vivid photography in “The Evolving Universe” at Natural History.

A Panel Study
In the last decade of his life, Andy Warhol created Shadows, a series of 102 silk-screened and hand-painted abstract canvases. Take advantage of the rare chance to see the entire set installed together at the Hirshhorn until January 2012.

Fast Forward
The 1881 arrival of the railroad in New Mexico changed life at the Isleta Pueblo reservation. Visit the American Indian Museum in New York City through June 2012 to see images depicting this cultural transition over the decades.

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