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Abraham Lincoln, William Judkins Thomson, half-plate ambrotype, 1858

See the Photographs That Introduced Americans to Their Presidents

The National Portrait Gallery traces early images of American leaders, from John Quincy Adams to Abraham Lincoln

“When I was making it, people laughed at me a good deal,” Charles F. Ritchel later said. “But so they did at Noah when he built the ark.”

Twenty-Five Years Before the Wright Brothers Took to the Skies, This Flying Machine Captivated America

First exhibited in 1878, Charles F. Ritchel's dirigible was about as wacky, dangerous and impractical as any airship ever launched

Taken in December 1968 during NASA's Apollo 8 mission, William Anders' iconic "Earthrise" photograph galvanized environmental movements and inspired people on Earth.

William Anders, NASA Astronaut Who Captured Iconic 'Earthrise' Photograph, Dies at 90

The Apollo 8 lunar module pilot also served in the U.S. Air Force and worked extensively on nuclear energy projects

The planet-forming disk is made of gas and dust.

This Giant Cosmic 'Butterfly' Is a Planet-Forming Disk

New research has confirmed that the celestial object may be the biggest of its kind ever found

A Juneteenth celebration held in Brooklyn, New York, on June 18, 2023

Why Juneteenth, the U.S.'s Second Independence Day, Is a Federal Holiday

The celebration commemorates June 19, 1865, when a military decree informed the people of Texas that all enslaved people were free

Gilbert Stuart painted the famous Lansdowne portrait of George Washington. 

Before Andy Warhol Set His Eyes on Marilyn and Prince, There Was Gilbert Stuart and George Washington

Two court cases over 200 years apart reflect what happens when commercial and artistic interests meet

Disney+ released a new documentary about Jim Henson's life and career called Jim Henson Idea Man.

What Made Jim Henson, the Visionary Behind the Muppets, One of the Nation’s Most Beloved Cultural Figures

Museum collections and a new documentary on Jim Henson’s life and career reveal how his creativity cemented his legacy

Bao Li, a 2-year-old male panda, is the son of Bao Bao, who was born at the Zoo in 2013.

Giant Pandas Are Coming Back to Washington, D.C.

A pair of the bears will arrive at the Smithsonian's National Zoo by the end of 2024

"I Dream of Jeannie" stars Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman

How a Bottle Served as a Living Room—and a Prison—for a 2,000-Year-Old Genie

The vessel from 1960s sitcom “I Dream of Jeannie,” now on display at the National Museum of American History, could not contain the exuberance of the beloved character

A Spectra Physics Model A supermarket scanner—one of the first ten ever produced. A laser within the unit projects a beam onto a mirror that redirects it through the glass plate on the top.

The Supermarket Scanner Changed the Way We Buy Groceries Forever

Invented 50 years ago, the curious box deciphered an arcane kind of code to offer shoppers a trip into the future

Where do we get the seeds for seedless fruit?

Where Do We Get Seeds for Seedless Fruit? And More Questions From Our Readers

You’ve got questions. We’ve got experts

Camp III with Everest rising above the flank of Changtse mountain.

See Photos From the 1924 Mount Everest Expedition That Led to the Vanishing of Two Explorers

A century later, a new book captures the grand scale of the mountain and uncovers more about the expedition and the people at its center

Sylvia Beach, Paul-Emile Bécat, oil on canvas, 1923

These American Women Left Their Country and Took Their Talents to Paris

A show featuring early 20th-century figures tells the story of how the city became a haven for artists

Two X-wing CAVs flew over the opening ceremony of an attraction at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World Resort in December 2019. 

How Engineers Created a Flying 'Star Wars' X-Wing

The starfighter-outfitted drone was the first remotely piloted aircraft of its kind and size approved by the Federal Aviation Administration for public demonstration

Do Ho Suh's Public Figures is the first new sculpture to be displayed in front of the National Museum of Asian Art in over three decades.

Take a Closer Look at a Surprising New Sculpture That Rethinks Who We Put on a Pedestal

Korean artist Do Ho Suh’s “Public Figures” makes a grand arrival outside the National Museum of Asian Art

The Ghost of a Fisherman, Tsukioka Kogyo, woodblock print, 1899

Why Images of Ghosts Have Endured in Japan for Centuries

A new exhibition at the National Museum of Asian Art displays haunting, colorful woodblock prints

The bamboo octocoral Isidella sp. displaying bioluminescence in the Bahamas in 2009.

Glowing Sea Creatures Have Been Lighting Up the Oceans for More Than Half a Billion Years

New research on branching animals known as octocorals pushes the early days of bioluminescence back over 200 million years

Piles of coal sit in front of a power plant in Utah. Such coal-fired power plants emit greenhouse gases that drive climate change.

What Myths About the Anthropocene Get Wrong

These ten misconceptions underplay how much we have altered the global environment and undermine the new perspective we need to deal with a drastically changed world

Fans hold a photo of Selena during the ceremony honoring her with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2017.

How Museums Are Preserving and Celebrating Selena's Legacy

The singer’s presence can still be felt at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

Robert M. Pirsig’s 1966 Honda Super Hawk Motorcycle.

This ‘Zen’ Motorcycle Still Inspires Philosophical Road-Trippers 50 Years Later

Robert M. Pirsig’s odyssey vehicle takes its final ride as it vrooms into public view for the first time ever at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

Photo of the day

I happened to be staying in Roseau Mn. when a friend told me there was to be a parade for the annual county fair.  This vehicle was a participant in the parade, with small flags attached to the front bumper. American Flags