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Dozens of Smithsonian Institution professionals share their favorite reads from this year.

Gift Guides

Smithsonian Scholars Pick Their Favorite Books of 2021

The writings of many fine authors support the research and ambitious undertakings of an Institution rising to the challenges ahead

This 1925 painting depicts an idealized version of an early Thanksgiving celebration in Plymouth.

How to Tell the Thanksgiving Story on Its 400th Anniversary

Scholars are unraveling the myths surrounding the 1621 feast, which found the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag cementing a newly established alliance

In "New Glass Now," at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery, works by 50 artists, including the hot-sculpted glass work of James Akers, (above: TThe Wild One (B), 2018) amplify the stunning advancement of the artform since the last major survey.

 

Two New Shows Reflect the Shining Versatility of Glass

Thrilling innovations at the Renwick mirror SAAM’s exquisite historical survey of the Venetian masters and their influences

The black-and-white stills represent the spirit rendered by King Richard, the new film starring Will Smith as the Williams sisters’ father, coach and mentor.

Based on a True Story

These Vintage Photos of Venus and Serena Williams Reveal the Truth of 'King Richard'

Seen as preteens, the future tennis sensations loved each other as much as they loved the sport

The much-lauded exposition-style celebration invites “all dreamers, makers, and changers of tomorrow to imagine a more exciting, equitable, and sustainable future.”

Futures

At New 'Futures' Show, Big Dreamers and Changemakers Activate a Better Way Forward

Smithsonian’s 175th anniversary exposition opens with big-name speakers, family fun and a 21st-century peek into the world ahead

Frida Kahlo's Diego y yo (1949) sold at auction for $34.9 million on Tuesday night. 

Intimate Frida Kahlo Self-Portrait Sells for $34.9 Million, Smashing Auction Records

The stunning work became the most expensive Latin American artwork ever sold, breaking a benchmark set by the Mexican painter's husband, Diego Rivera

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What the History of 'Spirit Photography' Portends for the Future of Deepfake Videos

Today’s video hoaxes can be downright ugly. But image-makers have been fooling viewers from the beginning

Aidan Bean installs Suchi Reddy’s AI-based artwork, “me + you,” in the central rotunda of the Arts and Industries Building. 

Futures

Secretary Lonnie Bunch on What Excites Him About the Smithsonian's New Futures Exhibition

One of Smithsonian’s most storied buildings is reopening with an eye toward humanity’s great potential

One reader wonders why more flowers and fruits aren't blue-hued.

Ask Smithsonian

Why Are So Few Flowers and Fruits Blue? And More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts

The T-38 Talon that Jacqueline Cochran flew, pictured before its recent restoration.

When Jackie Cochran Flew This Jet, She Broke All Kind of Barriers

The spirited aviator came out of poverty to soar to great heights

Joe Fedderson (Arrow Lakes/Okanagan) creates abstract patterns (Above: Horses and Deer, 2020) from ordinary life.

Six Native Artists and Their Works Receive Major Recognition

The upcoming 2023 Renwick Invitational explores how Indigenous worldviews and the present moment inform what Native artists are making today

Artist's rendering of "Futures," an upcoming exhibition at the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building

Futures

Futures

The Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building re-opens on November 20 with a thought-provoking exploration of what lies ahead for humanity

This 16th- or 17th-century copper alloy plaque—one of the ten Benin Bronzes removed from view—depicts a high-ranking warrior flanked by musicians and a page holding a ceremonial sword.

History of Now

Why the Smithsonian's Museum of African Art Removed Its Benin Bronzes From View

Displaying the looted artworks does "a huge amount of harm,” says director Ngaire Blankenberg, who has affirmed her commitment to repatriating the objects

In October, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History displayed this vandalized, bullet-ridden marker—one of three placed at the Mississippi site where, in 1955, police found the body of 14-year-old Emmett Till.

Why Museums Are Primed to Address Racism, Inequality in the U.S.

Smithsonian leaders discuss how the Institution can be a powerful place for investigating and addressing society’s most difficult issues

In the aftermath of the Civil War, more than four million newly freed Blacks sought fulfillment of the promises laid out in the U.S. Constitution. Says Kinshasha Holman Conwill, NMAAHC's deputy director: "The shadow of Reconstruction is a long shadow." (Above: Lewis "Big June" Marshall carries the flag during the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965.)

America Is Still Reckoning With the Failures of Reconstruction

A new NMAAHC book and exhibition examine the reverberating legacies of the post-Civil War era

Chinese railroad workers near the Secret Town Trestle in Placer County, California, around 1869

Cool Finds

Artifacts Used by Chinese Transcontinental Railroad Workers Found in Utah

Researchers discovered the remains of a mid-19th century house, a centuries-old Chinese coin and other traces of the short-lived town of Terrace

Laurie Anderson’s singular artistic path has included books and movies, and an influential performance style whose loops, tapes and style has informed generations. 

The Multiple Arts and Artistries of the Inimitable Laurie Anderson

A Hirshhorn retrospective opens with ten new works from the pioneering artist, composer, poet and musician

All mollusks build their own shells.

Ask Smithsonian

How Do Snails Get Their Shells? And More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts

For the first time in 16 years, a pair of golden-headed lion tamarins were born on the morning of October 7, 2021. New mom Lola carries the new infants on her back and cradles them close to her body. 

Zoo's Historic Newborn Tamarin Twins Cling to Mom, Doing What Healthy Babies Do

Keepers worked with breeding parents Lola and Coco, who soon “become very interested in each other”

On October 24, 1944, the Battle of Leyte Gulf had just begun when two Hellcat pilots U.S. Navy Capt. David McCampbell and his wingman Ens. Roy Rushing spotted a squadron of 60 Japanese aircraft, including bombers escorted by Zeroes (above: a 1943 photograph of Grumman F6F Hellcats in flight).

In One Mission in October 1944, Two F6F Hellcats Shot Down a Record 15 Enemy Aircraft

U.S. Navy Pilots David McCampbell and Roy Rushing made history in a heroic air battle over the Leyte Gulf

Photo of the day

A trio of Chinstrap penguins fresh from fishing in the Southern Ocean embark on a trek up towards their rocky nests on the face of an overhanging cliff on Half Moon Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica. To the Mountains