Music & Film

Breakup albums take listeners through the stages of a breakup much like the stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

The Heart-Wrenching History of the Breakup Album

From Joni Mitchell's 'Blue' to Olivia Rodrigo's 'Sour,' love and loss has an ever evolving soundtrack

In the Southwest, Morris documented what she described as a “treasure trove”—a “topography rich in large dry caves, neatly adapted to ancient dwellings and graveyards.”

Women Who Shaped History

Groundbreaking Archaeologist Ann Axtell Morris Finally Gets the Cinematic Treatment

Nearly a century after Morris excavated ancestral Native lands, filmmakers return with an inclusive approach that brings Navajo Nation onto the big screen

The worn hands and nubby fingernails of Bentonia, Mississippi, bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes reflect his years of experience. Holmes is one of the last bluesmen who play a style known as Bentonia blues.

At an Old Juke Joint in Mississippi, the Blues Are Alive

Jimmy Holmes is the last in a line of music legends as he seeks to keep a singular American art form thriving

Fixed up to look like "Dusty," the Disney animated aircraft that had high-flying aspirations, the Air Tractor AT-301/400A became a hit at air-shows following the success of the first film and its 2014 sequel Planes: Fire and Rescue.

Disney's Dusty Crophopper—the Little Airplane that Could—Comes to the Smithsonian

Iconic Air Tractor aircraft on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center this Saturday

Production still from "Reservation Dogs."

'Reservation Dogs' Marks a Breakthrough for Indigenous Representation Onscreen

"Thor: Ragnarok" director Taika Waititi and Sterlin Harjo developed a comedy about Native American teens in Oklahoma that stars four young Native actors

Visionary executive William Barstow Strong led the second transcontinental line, the Santa Fe, in the 1880s, paving the way for thousands of miles of track.

How the Santa Fe Railroad Changed America Forever

The golden spike made the newspapers. But another railroad made an even bigger difference to the nation

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, sizing up the idol, in the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark

The Enduring Myths of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'

Forty years later, archaeologists look back at what the first Indiana Jones movie got wrong about their profession

Xerox technology completely streamlined the animation process.

How 'One Hundred and One Dalmatians' Saved Disney

Sixty years ago, the company modernized animation when it used Xerox technology on the classic film

"What’s Going On" was a turning point for Marvin Gaye.

Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On' Is as Relevant Today as It Was in 1971

Fifty years ago, the artist released Motown's best-selling album ever and changed the course of his musical career

Iran's Lake Urmia, once one of the largest saltwater lakes in the world, is vanishing due to climate change.

Innovation for Good

Can Climate Fiction Writers Reach People in Ways That Scientists Can't?

A new subgenre of science fiction leans on the expertise of biologists and ecologists to imagine a scientifically plausible future Earth

“Despite taking place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars introduced generations of fans here on Earth to outer space as a setting for adventure and exploration,” says the museum's Margaret Weitekamp.

Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter Lands at the National Air and Space Museum

Udvar-Hazy visitors can watch conservators give the film prop a careful exam before it goes on view in 2022

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery holds an Italian poster (above: Il Quarto Potere, detail) promoting the film.

The Lasting Riddles of Orson Welles' Revolutionary Film 'Citizen Kane'

This year’s award-winning "Mank" attracts new attention to the 80-year-old American classic; two Smithsonian curators share insights

This drawing of a performance of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus has given scholars an understanding of how blackface was used in Elizabethan England.

Blackface Is Older Than You Might Think

From medieval European theater troupes to American minstrelsy, the harmful tradition has a surprisingly long history

Photograph for a Coca-Cola ad featuring Selena, 1994, by Al Rendon.

Smithsonian Voices

How Do We Remember Selena?

On the anniversary of her 50th birthday, honoring the legacy of the first Tejana singer to top the U.S. Billboard charts with her Spanish-language album

There are over eight million feet of film in the Human Studies Film Archives (HSFA), which is part of the Smithsonian’s National Anthropological Archives. HSFA specializes in storing ethnographic footage created by anthropologists, filmmakers and travelers.

Smithsonian Voices

How Film Helps Preserve the World's Diversity

The Smithsonian's Human Studies Film Archive houses eight million feet of film which can help future generations reflect on the past

One of the most versatile harmonica players in pop history is Stevie Wonder, shown here in Paris in 1963 at age 13.

A Brief History of the Harmonica

How the world’s handiest instrument took over American music

Waikiki, by Hawaiian filmmaker Christopher Kahunahana, will kick off this year’s Mother Tongue Film Festival, a free, Smithsonian-sponsored event that begins Sunday, February 21.

Pandemic Can't Stop the Mother Tongue Film Festival

The much-loved event kicks off this weekend online with the first indigenous film from Hawaii and extends through May with 45 offerings

Artist's rendering of a prehistoric human playing the ancient conch instrument

Cool Finds

Hear the Musical Sounds of an 18,000-Year-Old Giant Conch

The shell was played for the first time in millennia after being rediscovered in the collections of a French museum

The Chicago Children’s Choir is also celebrating Black History Month through song with its annual concert, but this time on a digital stage: Facebook Live.

Virtual Travel

Celebrate Black History Month With These Free Virtual Events

From online exhibitions to panel discussions, here are more than a dozen events hosted by museums and other cultural institutions

Musician Lara Downes aims to highlight the work of composers like Harry T. Burleigh, photographed c. 1938.

How Black Composers Shaped the Sound of American Classical Music

A new project seeks to elevate artists like Harry T. Burleigh and Florence Price, whose work has been ignored by white audiences

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