Acquired by Samuel Cox, the mummy is "our . . . most richly decorated [specimen]," says curator Melinda Zeder.

How One Mummy Came to the Smithsonian

An American diplomat’s memento takes center stage after 125 years

Thomas Jefferson believed that his version of the New Testament distilled "the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has never been offered to man."

How Thomas Jefferson Created His Own Bible

Thanks to an extensive restoration process, the public can now see how Jefferson created his own version of the Scripture

In Robert Walter Weir’s c. 1838 canvas of St. Nicholas (detail), perhaps influenced by a Washington Irving story, the painter envisioned both an enigmatic trickster and a dispenser of holiday cheer.

A Mischievous St. Nick from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

The 19th-century artist Robert Walter Weir took inspiration from Washington Irving to create a prototype of Santa Claus

The PT-13D prepared Tuskegee Airmen for war.

The Tuskegee Airmen Plane's Last Flight

The final voyage of a World War II biplane evokes the exploits of the legendary fighting force

The photographs of the Empress Dowager Cixi taken by Xunling are more Western than Eastern in style.

Presenting China's Last Empress Dowager

The early 20th-century photograph of Empress Dowager Cixi captures political spin, Qing dynasty-style

Gene Tunney's boxing gloves from the famous 1927 "long count" fight with Jack Dempsey.

Gene Tunney's Gloves Enter the Ring

Fans still argue about who really won the 1927 "long count" fight between Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey

Wernher von Braun would come to personify NASA's space exploration program.

Wernher von Braun's V-2 Rocket

Although the Nazi "vengeance weapon" was a wartime failure, it ushered in the space age

The Peacock Room, named for the birds James McNeill Whistler painted on its shutters and walls, reflects the tension between the artist and his first significant patron.

The Story Behind the Peacock Room's Princess

How a portrait sparked a battle between an artist–James McNeill Whistler—and his patron–Frederick R. Leyland

Sculptor Ousmane Sow creates pieces rooted in Africa and Europe.

A Larger-Than-Life Toussaint Louverture

The Haitian revolutionary joins the Smithsonian Museum of African Art's collection

When President Abraham Lincoln learned that Union Army Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth had been killed, the president exclaimed, "My boy! My boy! Was it necessary this sacrifice should be made?"

The Death of Colonel Ellsworth

The first Union officer killed in the Civil War was a friend of President Lincoln's

Gene Krupa "stole Benny [Goodman]'s thunder," says Kennith Kimery, executive producer of the SMithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. "In the end that cost him his job."

Gene Krupa: a Drummer with Star Power

Rising to fame with the Benny Goodman band, Gene Krupa was the first superstar drummer

A rail fragment, believed to have been hewn by Abraham Lincoln is an early example of "political theater."

The Legend of Lincoln's Fence Rail

Even Honest Abe needed a symbol to sum up his humble origins

The Lindberghs had to anticipate any emergency on their epic flights.

In Case of Emergency, Pack Snowshoes

In 1933, Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh prepared for the worst by packing winter gear before flying over the Arctic

John F. Kennedy, with cane in the Pacific, 1943, would later downplay his PT-109 role: "It was involuntary," he quipped. "They sank my boat."

Remembering PT-109

A carved walking stick evokes ship commander John F. Kennedy's dramatic rescue at sea

In 1838, the capture of Osceola, in a 19th-century portrait, attracted national attention.

A Seminole Warrior Cloaked in Defiance

A pair of woven, beaded garters reflects the spirit of Seminole warrior Osceola

Bill Owens' photograph of Richie Ferguson in 1971 became one of the most evocative images in Suburbia, a collection Owens published in 1972.

Shooting the American Dream in Suburbia

Bill Owens was seeking a fresh take on suburban life when he spotted a plastic-rifle-toting boy named Richie Ferguson

In 1849, Harriet Tubman fled Maryland to Philadelphia. Soon after, Tubman began her exploits—acts of bravery that would make her a legend.

Harriet Tubman's Hymnal Evokes a Life Devoted to Liberation

A hymnal owned by the brave leader of the Underground Railroad brings new insights into the life of the American heroine

Movie Starlet and Reporters, Norman Rockwell, 1936.

Norman Rockwell’s Storytelling Lessons

George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg found inspiration for their films in the work of one of America’s most cherished illustrators

Rare correspondence—carried by a vanished courier—is one of only "two pieces of what collectors call 'interrupted mail' from the Pony Express," says Postal Museum curator Daniel Piazza.

A Rare Pony Express Artifact

A letter that took two years to reach its destination evokes the hazards of the Pony Express

Gene Kranz (in vest, as Apollo 13 safely splashed down) had faith that "as a group, we were smart enough ... to get out of any problem.

How Gene Kranz's Apollo 13 Vest Boosted Morale For His Team

The NASA flight director famously wore a homemade white vest as he averted tragedy during one of Apollo's most harrowing missions

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