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Tom Cruise revives his Top Gun role as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in the new film arriving in theaters May 27.

'Top Gun' Is Back. But Is the Elite Navy Fighter Pilot School Really Like the Movies?

The Smithsonian’s Chris Browne flew the much-feared F-14, and as a former TOPGUN student, knows well the power of a Navy-trained fighter pilot

In August 1994, Cuba's leader Fidel Castro announced a reprieve in the enforcement of laws governing emigration (above: a homemade raft sets off from the coast near Havana on August 22, 1994) and as a result nearly 35,000 left the island.  

A Makeshift Raft Speaks to the Risks Cubans Took to Escape Their Homeland

In the mid-1990s, tens of thousands left in boats or handcrafted floats facing treacherous waters in search of a better life

Left: Photo of the dress from a Bonhams auction listing. Right: Father Gilbert Hartke with the gifted garment

There’s No Place Like Home—but What’s the Right Place for Dorothy's Dress From 'The Wizard of Oz'?

Donated to the head of Catholic University’s drama department in 1973, the garment's ownership is now at the center of a legal dispute

This commemorative sculpture by an Edo artist is one of 29 objects the Smithsonian is proposing to repatriate to Nigeria. 

Why the Smithsonian Adopted a New Policy on Ethical Collecting

For more than a century, museum artifacts were acquired in ways we no longer find acceptable. How can we repair the damage?

A taxidermied Cumulina holds a block of toy cheese.

The Mouse That Squeaked Its Way Into Scientific History

Forget Dolly the Sheep. The birth of a mouse named Cumulina 25 years ago launched a genetic revolution

One reader wonders why men’s bicycles have crossbars but not women’s.


 

Why Do Only Men's Bicycles Have Crossbars? And More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts.

Before the critical 1965 Supreme Court ruling Griswold v. Connecticut, state and federal morality laws prohibited access to contraceptives, even to married couples (above: a picketer protests the opening of a new Planned Parenthood Center in New Haven, Connecticut).

The Revolutionary 1965 Supreme Court Decision That Declared Sex a Private Affair

A Smithsonian curator of medicine and science looks back to the days when police could arrest couples for using contraception

A new book, coedited by Smithsonian entomologist Ted Schultz, explores and the fascinating ways in which human and nonhuman farmers compare, and asks what we might learn from other agricultural species.

Could Ants, Termites and Fishes Make Humans Better Farmers?

Scientists are now revealing the agricultural expertise that other species have cultivated for tens of millions of years

The first-ever image of a black hole in the Milky Way

New Research

Here’s What the Black Hole in the Center of the Milky Way Looks Like

A team of scientists from around the world collaborated to get a visual peek of the supermassive object

Cookbook author Grace Young set out to raise awareness of the struggle that Chinatown's business owners were facing, recording her “Coronavirus Stories”—short on-the-spot video interviews with members of the community.

Grace Young, Who Documented the Toll of Anti-Asian Hate on NYC's Chinatown, Receives Julia Child Award

A $50,000 grant is awarded to the culinary historian for her advocacy of Chinese-American culture and cuisine

The National Museum of American History and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum announced the joint acquisition of the historic kit envisioned by activist Martha Goddard.

Invented by a Woman Activist, an Early 1970s Rape Kit Arrives at the Smithsonian

Martha Goddard didn’t receive much recognition—instead she got the job done

The natural colors of a stoneware tea bowl from Japan and dating to 1510-1530 "speak of the spaces where Zen Buddhists practiced," says the Reverend Inryū Bobbi Poncé-Barger, a priest for the All Beings Zen Sangha in Washington, D.C.

How to Find Wholeness in the Cracks of a 16th-Century Tea Bowl

A new exhibition, “Mind Over Matter,” invites viewers to pause and connect with the teachings of Zen Buddhism

Materials and manufacturing details of the specially made suit of America's first space traveler were extensively analyzed before being prepared for display on a customized mannequin.

The Second Man in Space Had a Wee Wish—That He'd Used the Bathroom Before Blasting Off

Alan B. Shepard's historic Mercury spacesuit undergoes hours of conservation work for its debut when the National Air and Space Museum opens this fall

The zoo's flamingos live in a 9,750-square-foot outdoor yard with a heated pool and barn.

Wild Fox Kills 25 Flamingos and a Duck at the National Zoo

The incident is the first time a predator has broken into the exhibit in its 50 year history

Alison Elizabeth Taylor's Anthony Cuts Under the Williamsburg Bridge, Morning (2020), received first prize in the 2022 Outwin competition.

Trending Today

Portrait of a Covid-Era Haircut Claims First Prize in the Outwin Boochever Competition

Judges for the triennial National Portrait Gallery contest chose Alison Elizabeth Taylor's "marquetry hybrid" out of a pool of 42 finalists

Richard Nixon (detail) by George Giusti, 1973

View the Granddaddy of Political Scandals in Oils, Cartoons and Sculpture

The 1972 Watergate break-in that led to Richard Nixon's resignation is the subject of a new exhibition

The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture acquired three works by Elizabeth Catlett, representing the artist's impassioned devotion to the dignity, struggle and uplift. 

A Trio of Elizabeth Catlett Sculptures Convey the Power of Service to Humanity

Regarded as “guardians of the Black narrative,” the artworks greet visitors to NMAAHC’s Heritage Hall

Dance of the Heyoka by Oscar Howe (Yanktonai Dakota), 1954

Who Gets to Define Native American Art?

A pivotal letter from Oscar Howe, whose work is the focus of a new exhibition, demanded the right to free expression and the art world began to listen

Since 2017 when the Smithsonian Institution launched its first Earth Optimism Summit, marine biologist Nancy Knowlton notes that positive change is happening. “The price of renewable energy is cheaper than ever, electric vehicles are finally on the verge of taking off, and the world seems ready to protect 30 percent of its lands and water,” she says.

A New Surge of Earth Optimism Takes Center Stage at This Year's Folklife Festival

The challenges are many, but evidence shows that positivity emboldens global conservation efforts

At the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, the story of the Watergate whistleblower Martha Mitchell (detail, oil on canvas, Jan De Ruth, 1970) from Pine Bluff, Arkansas—who pundits dubbed the "Mouth of the South"—is revisited in a new exhibition, "Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue."

Martha Mitchell Was the Brash 'Mouth of the South' That Roared

A portrait reveals the dignity behind the maligned woman who stepped up to tell the truth

Photo of the day

A light beamed through Antelope Canyon. Light Through