From the Castle


Cultural diversity flourishes. Humans speak and sing in 6,000 languages and cook dishes made of every imaginable ingredient. At its best, America exemplifies that splendid diversity, and for 151 years the Smithsonian has collected artifacts, photographs and films documenting the colorful tapestry of cultures around the globe. Our museum visitors can see Asian craftsmanship, hear contemporary African voices and, when the revitalized National Museum of American History reopens (, learn about our nation's own rich cultural variety. This summer, visitors will enjoy concerts, dances, cuisines and more presented by Texans, Bhutanese, African-Americans and others at the 42nd Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

As the Smithsonian goes digital, our diverse collections and programs reach nearly 200 million virtual visitors each year. Our more than 13 million photographs record the full range of human activity; the Smithsonian Photography Initiative ( makes a large selection of these pictures available online, offering interactive programs that feature photography collections from throughout the Institution. The National Anthropological Archives and the Human Studies Film Archives include over 600,000 historical photographs and eight million feet of film and video ( And Smithsonian Global Sound offers 40,000 tracks of music and oration on its Web site (

Often digital versions of Smithsonian exhibitions are also viewable on the Web. For example, using the National Portrait Gallery's collections, the National Museum of African American History and Culture recently produced its inaugural exhibition, "Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits" ( Seventy pictures from the show are also on a 15-city tour via the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).

The exhibition "Beyond Baseball: The Life of Roberto Clemente," developed by Smithsonian Affiliate Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico in San Juan, is on a five-year national tour organized by SITES with support from the Smithsonian's Latino Center. The show, its podcast and Web site (, all bilingual, examine this sports legend—one of the first Latinos in the Baseball Hall of Fame—who nurtured athletes and reached out to disadvantaged youths in his native Puerto Rico. Clemente died at age 38, in a 1972 plane crash, while delivering aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims. We hope audiences of all backgrounds will be inspired by his story of achievement and generosity and that they will experience the many other offerings of the truly multicultural Smithsonian.

Cristian Samper is Acting Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

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