Best Gifts of 2015 for Museum Lovers

A host of gifts inspired by the Smithsonian collections, its scientists, curators, historians, photographers and gardeners

Rare. Unique. Unusual. There is no other museum complex as diverse as the Smithsonian Institution. It boasts not only 19 museums in Washington, D.C. and New York City, but also partners with affiliated cultural institutions across the U.S. and abroad. It also supports its public-facing endeavors with a broad-based research complex of historians, scientists, researchers and educators. A gift in 1826 from James Smithson, a British subject who had never set foot in the United States, endowed the Institution with a vast fortune held in gold sovereigns to be used for the noble cause to increase and diffuse knowledge. That gift today draws, families, school groups, rising scientists and educators, as well as the curious and inquisitive of mind from all over the world. As we approach the holidays and a time for giving, in honor of James Smithson’s original gift, we offer ideas that inspire and provoke the ongoing pursuit of knowledge in all its forms.

Fish Design Pattern Journals $13.99

(Cooper-Hewitt Shop)

In 1914, while sailing aboard the scientific vessel the Thomas Barrera to Cuba, zoologist Paul Bartsch kept meticulous notes in his field journal, now housed in the collections of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Bartsch’s notes describe the thrill of seeing a flock of 500 white ibis take flight from a grove of mangrove trees. But perhaps his most elegiac entry was the cook’s recipe for the stiff cocktail concocted to stave off the cold. Made of gin and vermouth, nectar cabana and eggs, he warned it should be “consumed with a receptive mind,” adding that “a bandage for the head in the morning wouldn’t be out of place.” For all the cerebral trail warriors, sky watchers and bird lovers in your life craving the desire to put ink to paper, in the tradition of the scientific field note, we suggest checking out the delightful journals at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, inspired by patterns and designs from the collections.

About Beth Py-Lieberman
Beth Py-Lieberman

Beth Py-Lieberman is the museums editor, covering exhibitions, events and happenings at the Smithsonian Institution. She has been a member of the Smithsonian team for more than two decades.

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