The vaunted unobtanium from Avatar.

The Etymology of Unobtanium

The much-mocked wonder-rock from the 2009 blockbuster 'Avatar' doesn’t have an atomic number, but engineers have used the actual word for decades

The “Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Planets Gallery” is now open to visitors at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

A New Look for the National Air and Space Museum

The Jury-Rigged Experiment that Led to the Discovery of Unknown Worlds

See the Kepler technology demonstrator at the National Air and Space Museum, along with a host of technologies that brought success to space exploration

"Sidedoor" host Lizzie Peabody creaks across museum attic floorboards and sneaks into an old house in the woods (above: What lurks inside the Sellman House at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center?) to investigate the spooky stories that only a few dare to tell.

The Ghosts Who Haunt the Smithsonian

Mysterious tales head up podcast offerings for late October and November

The Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia, the only part of the spacecraft from the first moon-landing expedition to return to Earth, is on view with the space suit that Neil Armstrong wore when he walked on the moon in July 1969.

A New Look for the National Air and Space Museum

The Incredible Technology That Made Humanity's Moon Dreams a Reality

A new, completely reimagined exhibition goes beyond the Cold War narrative to explore the full story of lunar landings

This month, Portraits, a podcast from the National Portrait Gallery, revisits "Finding Cleopatra," a Sidedoor episode with host Lizzie Peabody exploring the life of the artist Edmonia Lewis (above: a photographic portrait by Henry Rocher, c. 1890).

Cleopatra’s Iconoclastic Sculptor Was Her Own Kind of Queen

Smithsonian podcasts delve into the life of Edmonia Lewis, how astronauts sleep, the evolution of the human brain; and drop in on painter Kay WalkingStick

The signpost of hometowns for each of the characters in the sitcom "M*A*S*H" is now held in the collections of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, where it will go on view December 9.

The Stars Are Aligned at the National Museum of American History

Fifty Years and TV's 'M*A*S*H' Still Draws Audiences

Fans are making plans to visit the Smithsonian this December when the show's signature signpost goes on view in the new exhibition "Entertainment Nation"

In “Postage Pairings,” from the National Portrait Gallery, host Kim Sajet speaks with the Smithsonian's Daniel Piazza, curator of philately, about postage stamps (left: 29c single, july 30, 1993) reproduced from portraits (right: Benjamin Franklin by Joseph Siffred Duplessis, c. 1785).

The Revolutionary Role Mail Played in America’s Fight for Independence

Hear about the colonial period postal service in the latest "Portraits" podcast


Six Times School Bus Drivers Were Heroes

A look back at some remarkable rescues

A boy riding his bike while delivering newspapers with his dog in tow, 1970s

What Ever Happened to the Neighborhood Paperboy?

To mark the premiere of Amazon's "Paper Girls," we delved into the surprisingly murky history of bicycle-riding newspaper carriers

Despite the Russian invasion, traditional Ukrainian folk singers performed as part of the celebrations for Kyiv Day  on May 28, 2022.

Can Cultural Treasures in Occupied Ukraine Be Saved?

The podcast 'Sidedoor' goes behind-the-scenes with the Smithsonian Culture Rescue Initiative and its heroic efforts to safeguard the nation’s heritage


These Are the Winners of Smithsonian Magazine's 19th Annual Photo Contest

From the beauty of bodies in motion to the symbiotic behaviors of insects, these photographers captured fascinating moments in time

The blackened “laser-scarring” on the hull of this full-scale Star Wars prop is an example of the kind of camera-friendly damage conservators take pains to preserve.

The 'Star Wars' Starfighter Will Soon Be a Museum Piece

This full-size movie prop helped the Rebel Alliance defeat the Galactic Empire.

Pan American Airlines bought Excalibur III from Charles F. Blair in 1953 and donated it to the National Air Museum. It underwent a soup-to-nuts restoration in 1977.

Undistinguished in Combat, This Mustang Became More Famous as a Racer

Stunt pilot Paul Mantz’s speedy P-51, <i>Excalibur III</i>.

The Gulfhawk flew again, briefly, in airshows of the 1960s before being donated, in accordance with Al Williams’ wishes, to the Smithsonian in 1969.

Al Williams Made History With his Aerial Performances Between the Great Wars

His ride: the Curtiss 1A Gulfhawk

The Museum’s Huey served with four units in Vietnam between 1966 and 1970. Though now painted in National Guard livery, it retains an XM52 smoke generator similar to the one it carried for the 11th Combat Aviation Air Battalion.

More Than Just a Helicopter, the “Huey” Became a Symbol of the Vietnam War

The Bell UH-1H Iroquois was a single-engine workhorse.

Director-star George Clooney confers with David Oyelowo and Tiffany Boone during the filming of a spacewalk sequence at London's Shepperton Studios.

In George Clooney's <i>The Midnight Sky</i>, the Crew of a Planetary Exploration Mission Faces an Impossible Choice

Actors David Oyelowo and Demián Bechir discuss their roles as astronauts investigating a potentially habitable Jovian moon.

Baldwin painted each of his half-dozen “Red Devil” pusher biplanes a bright scarlet, though some claim their demonic moniker was awarded after an airfield mishap moved the designer to a memorable flight of profanity.

For a 1910 Biplane, the Baldwin 'Red Devil' Was a Speed Demon

Descended from a Glenn Curtiss design, this speedster had a short run.

The Museum’s F-86A was assigned to the 4th Fighter Interceptor Group at Langley Air Force Base in Virgina in July 1949, and shipped out for action in Korea in December 1950. It flew its combat sorties from Kimpo Air Base near Seoul.

The F-86 Sabre, Hero of the Early Jet Age

America’s first swept-wing fighter won the skies over North Korea.

The Mitchell U-2 Superwing at the National Air and Space Museum features a Cuyuna UL2-11 two-cylinder, 35-hp engine. Its builder, Frank Marsh, first flew the ultralight in 1987 and donated it to the Museum in 1989.

The Mitchell U-2 Superwing Showed How Versatile an Ultralight Can Be

Plus, you could build it yourself.

The Museum’s M-1 was a two-seat Sperry Sport Plane when donated, but the Smithsonian converted it to the M-1 configuration that was used to dock with an airship, installing a skyhook and painting it in the livery of Sperry Aircraft No. 22.

The Tiny M-1 Messenger Was Designed to Replace Motorbikes on the Battlefront

Say hello to my little friend.

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