Curators' Corner

Shirley MacLaine makes her debut as Martha Levinson this Sunday in “Downton Abbey.”

Are You Ready for Shirley MacLaine’s Entrance on Downton Abbey?

The stage is set. Enter Martha Levinson, a character described as rich, crass and brassy.


Amy Henderson

Amy Henderson

Actor Bing Crosby, Actresses Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen, and Actor Danny Kaye, during the 1954 Paramount production of “White Christmas.”

Is White Christmas the Best Popular Song Ever Written?

The idyllic scenes of the dreamy holiday tune were painted by a Russian Jewish immigrant named Israel Baline, better known as Irving Berlin

Kinstler’s character sketch of Plummer is being given to the National Portrait Gallery.

Amy Henderson: A Portrait is a Story Unfolding

Artist Everett Raymond Kinstler's portrait of the legendary performer Christopher Plummer joins the collection as Kinstler is honored in New York City


Amy Henderson: Red Hot Kathleen Turner

The beloved actress takes to the stage as a witty Molly Ivins just in time for election season

Diana Vreeland brought a unique perspective to the fashion world.

Amy Henderson: The Fashion-Forward Life of Diana Vreeland

It was Diana Vreeland, whose skill, imagination and discipline, defined the job of a modern fashion editor

Walter Cronkite, Robert Vickrey, 1966, watercolor, gouache and graphite pencil on paper, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time Magazine

That’s The Way It Was: Remembering Walter Cronkite

A look back at the most-trusted man in news

Duke Kahanamoku, pictured here circa 1915, helped popularize surfing on the mainland and won several Olympic medals for swimming.

Amy Henderson: Team USA!

Guest blogger and Portrait Gallery historian Amy Henderson reflects on the Gallery's Olympian collection


Remembering Doc Watson, Folk Guitar Hero (1923-2012)

Smithsonian Folkways honors the blind folk musician who died yesterday at the age of 89

Franklin Delano Roosevelt by Douglas Granville Chandor

Amy Henderson: The Shock of the Old

For generations immersed in social media, culture means a different thing than it did in 1940

Louis Armstrong embodied stardom in jazz. Photo courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bob Willoughby

Amy Henderson: Satchmo at the National Press Club

Guest blogger and Portrait Gallery historian Amy Henderson discusses Louis Armstrong and the meaning of stardom


Portrait Gallery Exhibition Named Best Thematic Museum Show in the Country

Lady Mary Leiter Curzon by Franz Von Lenbach, 1901

Amy Henderson: “Downton Abbey” and the Dollar Princesses

A curator tells of 19th-century American socialites, who like Cora Crowley, found noble husbands and flushed Britain with cash

Elvis at 21: Presley reads fan mail on March 17, 1956

Amy Henderson: The Medium is the Message

The Portrait Gallery's Cultural Historian Amy Henderson discusses the museum's vision—to tell America's stories as "visual biography"

Historian David Ward discusses his new book of poetry

National Portrait Gallery’s David C. Ward: Historian Turns to Poetry

In a new book of poetry, a Smithsonian scholar renders his thoughts on family, nature, celebrity and anonymity

Secretary S. Dillon Ripley (on his farm in 1984) enjoyed diffusing knowledge.

From the Castle: Forward Thinking

The Smithsonian enters a new era of expansion—on the Web

Anthropologist Bruno Frohlich with a 1920 Czech viola at the National Museum of Natural History.

Scanning a Stradivarius

Medical 3-D imaging makes it possible to study the world's greatest stringed instruments – and uncover the secrets of its makers

To underscore the transitory nature of material life, Tibetan monks poured their mandala into the Potomac.

How Do Smithsonian Curators Decide What to Collect?

The Star Spangled Banner and John Glenn's spacesuit were clearly musts. Other artifacts are less obvious


Remembering Pearl Harbor


Rodents of Unusual Size Do Exist

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