From the Collections

Pioneering designer Clara Driscoll conceived this indelible lamp around the turn of the 20th century—with help from her fellow "Tiffany girls."

These Women Were the Real Geniuses Behind the Iconic Tiffany Lamps

A chic light fixture reveals how female designers remade the Tiffany brand—and went largely uncredited for nearly a century

This prototype of the Mars Ingenuity helicopter achieved the first successful free flight under simulated Martian conditions (on Earth) in 2016.

Prototype for Mars Helicopter Will Soon Be on Display at National Air and Space Museum

The surprisingly long-serving Ingenuity ended its historic service after breaking a rotor

This blue whale skull is one of the largest in any collection on earth.

How an Eye-Popping Museum Specimen Boosted the Beleaguered Blue Whale

For decades, visitors to the Smithsonian could behold the immense size of the sea mammal with their own eyes

In celebration of the upcoming new film The Color Purple, the Smithsonian Gardens, in partnership with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, hosted a webinar to unearth the nature-related themes in the story. (Above: Alice Walker by Anthony Barboza, 1989)

Unearth the Roots of Alice Walker’s ‘The Color Purple’

Gardeners discuss the oft-overlooked symbolism of nature that underlies the Pulitzer-prize winning novel

As a museum artifact, Lillian Vernon's kitchen table, where she started her multimillion-dollar catalogue business, is "an evocative piece of material culture that speaks to female entrepreneurship and the 'second shift,' or running a business while simultaneously running a household,” says curator Kathleen Franz.

Lillian Vernon’s Catalog Empire Got Its Start at a Kitchen Table

A keen sense of what shoppers wanted made her eponymous company the first woman-owned business on the American Stock Exchange

The "Inverted Jenny," 1918, one of the rarest and most valuable stamps in the world, celebrates the first air mail in the U.S.—by depicting an inadvertently upside-down airplane.

Why Collectors Fall Head Over Heels for the 'Inverted Jenny' Stamp

One of the rare 24-cent misprints sold at auction this week for a record-breaking $2 million

Two bars that Hershey's devised for the U.S. military: Ration D, and the tastier (and more enduring) Tropical Chocolate Bar, which soldiers received as late as 1991.

When Hershey’s Crafted a Special Treat for the Troops

In the run-up to World War II, the chocolate company was tasked with creating a nutritious snack that, by design, wouldn't taste good

The Hope Diamond was cut from Louis XIV’s “French Blue."

How a Smithsonian Curator Discovered the Hope Diamond’s Many Secrets

The storied past of the 45.52-carat sapphire-blue gemstone hails back to the days before the French Revolution

The female whale was found stranded in January on a beach near Palm Coast, Florida.

How an Orca Skeleton Made Its Way From Florida to the Smithsonian

Washed up in a rare stranding event, the newly collected specimen will offer rich exploration for researchers

Designed in 1906, Glenn Curtiss' first V-8 motorcycle required a longer, sturdier frame than any previous bike to support the massive weight of the engine.

A Century Ago, Glenn Curtiss Was the 'Fastest Man on Earth'

Before he changed aviation forever, the daredevil achieved an unparalleled speed record on land

In its second installment, “AeroEspacial” tells the story of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which housed the world’s largest radio telescope for over 50 years.

An In-Depth Look at Latino History Among the Stars and Skies

This summer, a podcast series from the National Air and Space Museum discusses Operation Pedro Pan, Latino Futurism and “Star Wars”

Apparatus for administering nitrous oxide and other anesthetic gases

These Objects Tell the Story of Human-Driven Climate Change

Smithsonian curators dig into the collections to find artifacts that illustrate how we arrived at this moment

George Washington used the light of this brass candle stand while laboring over his farewell address in 1796.

How George Washington Wrote His Farewell Address

A candle stand used by the first president illuminates his extraordinary last days in office

Rhoda Goodridge in a 2 ¾-by-3 ¼-inch ambrotype made by her husband, the pioneering photographer Glenalvin Goodridge.

A Massive Archive Tells the Story of Early African American Photographers

Arresting portraits, now a part of the Smithsonian collections, illuminate the little-known role these artists played in chronicling 19th-century life

Illustration by Nina Goldman / Images via Smithsonian Folkways Records

Celebrating 75 Years of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

The vast, eclectic public archive of American music—and other sounds—is featured on a new episode of the Sidedoor podcast

Angraecum longicalcar is threatened by increasing fires and a buzzing black market for orchids. Conservators at England's Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, have been working to reintroduce seedlings into the wild.

Is This Endangered Orchid the Last of Its Kind?

Contemplating the portentous history and uncertain fate of an exceptionally rare flower

Hosts Emily Martin and Matt Shindell speak with Anisha Abraham and to her actor friend Jo Chim, who has written and directed a 30-minute film called “One Small Visit,” dramatizing a visit the Abraham family (above) enjoyed with the astronaut Neil Armstrong.

A New Neil Armstrong Film Makes One Giant Leap for Kindness

Smithsonian podcasts deliver doses of optimism this month, featuring Bill Nye and a story of a warm welcome from the astronaut’s family

Now available is the Biography of a Phantom: A Robert Johnson Blues Odyssey by Robert "Mack" McCormick (above center with Spider Kilpatrick, c. 1960), and this summer, the much-anticipated book is complemented by an exhibit at the National Museum of American History, a box CD set from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and a concert celebration at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall.

Legendary Bluesman Robert Johnson Had Demons. So Did His Biographer

The long-awaited “Biography of a Phantom” unravels some of the mystery and intrigue

Tens of thousands of people in the United States may be connected to this album, which museum officials say offers an "unprecedented opportunity for people of mixed heritage, especially, to access never-before-seen ancestral portraits."

Find Out If Your Ancestor Is Among These 19th-Century Silhouettes in This Newly Digitized Collection

The itinerant artist William Bache’s portraits are contaminated by arsenic, but now the National Portrait Gallery offers easy access

A circa 1825 sampler made by Ann E. Kelly at Leah Maguire's school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

A 19th-Century Textile Stitches a Tale of Women's Liberation

Beloved by her pupils, schoolteacher Leah Maguire embraced her freedom through sewing this sampler

Page 1 of 46