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Dozens of Smithsonian Institution professionals share their favorite reads from this year.

Gift Guides

Smithsonian Scholars Pick Their Favorite Books of 2021

The writings of many fine authors support the research and ambitious undertakings of an Institution rising to the challenges ahead

This composite photograph shows the bison herd with one of the newly discovered petroglyphs overlaid on the sky.

Bison in Canada Discover Ancient Petroglyphs, Fulfilling an Indigenous Prophecy

Reintroduced to Wanuskewin Heritage Park in 2019, the animals' hooves uncovered four 1,000-year-old rock carvings

In "New Glass Now," at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery, works by 50 artists, including the hot-sculpted glass work of James Akers, (above: TThe Wild One (B), 2018) amplify the stunning advancement of the artform since the last major survey.

 

Two New Shows Reflect the Shining Versatility of Glass

Thrilling innovations at the Renwick mirror SAAM’s exquisite historical survey of the Venetian masters and their influences

Travel by way of these ten titles.

The Ten Best Books About Travel of 2021

With many of our wings still clipped by Covid-19 this year, we needed to travel vicariously through these adventurous reads

The black-and-white stills represent the spirit rendered by King Richard, the new film starring Will Smith as the Williams sisters’ father, coach and mentor.

Based on a True Story

These Vintage Photos of Venus and Serena Williams Reveal the Truth of 'King Richard'

Seen as preteens, the future tennis sensations loved each other as much as they loved the sport

To make true Roquefort cheese, the law requires that it must be produced from local ingredients and ripen for months in a cave in southern France. 

How Much Longer Will Roquefort Reign as the King of Cheese?

In France, makers of the odorous food are singing the blues

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What the History of 'Spirit Photography' Portends for the Future of Deepfake Videos

Today’s video hoaxes can be downright ugly. But image-makers have been fooling viewers from the beginning

“Bless whoever it was who came up with the idea,” jazz historian Dan Morgenstern says in a Smithsonian interview about Armstrong’s rendition of the holiday chestnut.

The Little-Known Recording of Louis Armstrong Reciting 'The Night Before Christmas'

Shortly before he died, the jazz legend offered his own rendition of the classic holiday poem

Poised on a Nevada salt flat, Alan Case, one of the world’s top practitioners of flight shooting, aims his custom-built bow, which requires so much strength to draw he must use his legs.

The Quest to Shoot an Arrow Farther Than Anyone Has Before

In dogged pursuit of an exotic world record, an engineer heads to the desert with archery equipment you can't get at a sporting goods store

In his new book Around the World in 80 Books, David Damrosch builds an itinerary that circumnavigates the globe—and doesn't require a passport to enjoy.

Virtual Travel

A Literary Scholar Takes Us Around the World in Eight Books

Harvard professor David Damrosch's new release has readers traveling to London, Paris, Nigeria, Tokyo and beyond without ever leaving home

Half-Length Portrait of a Peasant, His Head Resting on His Right Hand, oil tempera on cardboard, c. 1903. The artist created the work at an art colony in Germany.

Artist Paula Modersohn-Becker's Portraits Were Ahead of Their Time

Raw and affecting depictions of rural life in the early 20th century were strikingly modern

Harvest ABC's, 2019

Crayons Aren't Just for Kids

Mixed media artist Lisa Solomon describes how she and five other artists have embraced Crayola in their work

Joe Fedderson (Arrow Lakes/Okanagan) creates abstract patterns (Above: Horses and Deer, 2020) from ordinary life.

Six Native Artists and Their Works Receive Major Recognition

The upcoming 2023 Renwick Invitational explores how Indigenous worldviews and the present moment inform what Native artists are making today

LifeLab Design's WarmLife vests are 30 percent warmer than clothing of comparable weight and bulk.

Innovation for Good

This Apparel Company Wants to Have a Profound Effect on Your Energy Use

LifeLabs Design was founded by a pair of Stanford professors who have developed fabrics capable of cooling and warming the wearer

A woman smiles as she reaches for a container of Betty Crocker pizza dough mix, in the dairy section of a grocery store.

The Real Betty Crocker May Never Have Existed, but She Still Became a Symbol for American Women

Created as a customer service tool 100 years ago, the fictional character marks the evolution of domesticity in the United States

Artist's rendering of "Futures," an upcoming exhibition at the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building

Futures

Futures

The Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building re-opens on November 20 with a thought-provoking exploration of what lies ahead for humanity

In October, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History displayed this vandalized, bullet-ridden marker—one of three placed at the Mississippi site where, in 1955, police found the body of 14-year-old Emmett Till.

Why Museums Are Primed to Address Racism, Inequality in the U.S.

Smithsonian leaders discuss how the Institution can be a powerful place for investigating and addressing society’s most difficult issues

Ary Scheffer, The Ghosts of Paolo and Francesca Appear to Dante and Virgil, 1835

Before Romeo and Juliet, Paolo and Francesca Were Literature's Star-Crossed Lovers

Centuries after Italian poet Dante published "The Divine Comedy," Romantic artists and writers reimagined the tragedy as a tale of female agency

Scream is a surprisingly scathing critique of the way real-life trauma is laundered into news, then entertainment for the masses.

How 'Scream' Explored the Exploitative Nature of the Nightly News

Twenty-five years ago, the first installment of the horror franchise hit theaters just as a national debate about on-screen violence reached a fever pitch

Houdini exposed fake Spiritualist practices by having himself photographed with the "ghost" of Abraham Lincoln.

For Harry Houdini, Séances and Spiritualism Were Just an Illusion

The magician spent years campaigning against fraudulent psychics, even lobbying Congress to ban fortune-telling in D.C.

Photo of the day

A trio of Chinstrap penguins fresh from fishing in the Southern Ocean embark on a trek up towards their rocky nests on the face of an overhanging cliff on Half Moon Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica. To the Mountains