gold belt terminus
gold belt terminus, seventh to sixth centuries B.C. The Central State Museum of The Republic Of Kazakhstan, Almaty

Eyes on the Skies
Ends Dec. 9, 2012

Ever since the ancient Egyptians settled along the Nile, Africans have care­fully charted the sun, the moon and the stars to maintain a sense of place, track time and inspire art (Starkid, by Owusu-Ankomah, 2007). “African Cos­mos: Stellar Arts” at the African Art Museum presents a new look at the importance of sky-watching to African cultures, with 100 works ranging from depictions of the Egyptian sky goddess, Nut, to video on cutting-edge studies of deep space.

Trade Roots
Ends Nov. 25, 2012

The people who roamed Eurasia in the first millennium B.C. left no written record and have remained myste­rious. But ancient burial mounds in Kazakhstan have recently yielded discoveries, including Persian and Chinese luxury goods (gold belt terminus, seventh to sixth centuries B.C.), revealing that the nomads kept up so­phis­ticated relations with their powerful neighbors. Trace their trade routes through more than 150 objects in “Nomads and Networks” at the Sackler Gallery.

A Woman in Full
Ends May 27, 2013

Amelia Earhart’s disappearance over the Pacific Ocean 75 years ago has overshadowed the events of her life: her early indifference to airplanes, her abbreviated attendance at a finishing school, her misgivings about the flight that made her the first woman to fly across the Atlan­tic, in 1928. “One Life: Amelia Earhart,” at the National Portrait Gallery, fills in some of the blanks.

Faces in the Crowd
Ends June 2, 2013

The Greek word ambrotos means “immortal,” and in the 1850s the ambro­type became a favored form of photography for portraits (its glass negative yielded a softer image than the metallic daguerre­o­type), conferring immortality of a sort on the famous and the obscure. “Ambro­­types from the National Portrait Gallery” presents 14 subjects (Frederick Douglass), including George Armstrong Custer and John Pelham, West Point classmates who chose opposing sides during the Civil War.

Looking Back at the Future
Ends Jan. 6, 2013

“All profoundly original art looks ugly at first,” the art critic Clement Greenberg said. That was the prevailing view in the middle years of the 20th century, when artists such as Man Ray, Willem de Kooning and Joseph Cornell started exploring the interplay of color and form. (Of course, many viewers recovered from their initial distaste.) See modern art take shape in “Abstract Drawings,” 46 rarely seen works (Aerodynamics, by Charles Pollock, 1947) at the American Art Museum.

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