Olympic Games at the Smithsonian

Before you settle into your couch to watch the Olympics, get down to the Smithsonian for exhibits, games and more

As the Olympic Games head to London, you should head to the Mall.
As the Olympic Games head to London, you should head to the Mall. Image by John Ritter

No one’s a bigger fan of the red, white and blue than Smithsonian. Around here, we take the Olympic Games pretty seriously, but we make sure to have a little fun, too. With the opening ceremony just around the corner, check out the many ways you can share in the sporting spirit at the Smithsonian.

Let’s Move! Healthy Hunt with Smithsonian Gardens: As we prepare to hunker down and watch hours of the televised competitions, Michelle Obama wants to remind us that the Games are about being active. The First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign teamed up with Smithsonian Gardens to plan the ultimate scavenger hunt around the Mall. Just pick up your Let’s Move! Healthy Hunt Guide at any Smithsonian info desk (or download the guide, here.) to get started. Learn more about the plants in our many gardens, then take the challenge home and see what you can identify in your own neighborhood. On Saturday, July 28th, participants can meet in the Enid a. Haupt Garden behind the Castle from 12 to 1 p.m. to meet up with others for a group scavenger hunt. Sign up or just show up.

Olympians at the National Portrait Gallery: See all the greats immortalized at the gallery, including Jesse Owens and Michael Phelps. Curator Amy Henderson created a quick guide to some of the collections’ big names. The portraits remind viewers that the Games aren’t just about athletics, they’re also witness to dramatic moments in history and society. From breaking barriers to defying oppression, the Games stand for more than competition.

Let’s Move! Olympic Fun Day Meetup: Native American Games: Volleyball, track and swimming are all great sports, but what about Inuit yo-yo? Try your hand at several Native American games, including a North Woodlands ring and pin game as well as Amazonian games, at the American Indian Museum’s Olympic Fun Day. The First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign teamed up with the museum as well to offer a fun opportunity to get active. Kids can also try virtual skateboarding.

Best in the World: Native Athletes at the Olympics Exhibit: After you’ve proved your Inuit yo-yo finesse, head to the American Indian Museum’s exhibit, Best in the World, to learn more about the Games’ Native competitors. From Duke Kahanamoku to Jim Thorpe, the exhibit explores the rich history of these athletes and looks ahead to the future.

Best in the World: Native Athletes at the Olympics Discussion: The museum will offer a presentation on the Native American athlete Jim Thorpe, in conjunction with the exhibit. Thorpe “was the greatest all-around athlete of his age and probably any other,” according to the museum. Known for medaling in track and field, he was also a stellar athlete in football, baseball, basketball and lacrosse. Biographer Robert W. Wheeler will share his insights into the legendary star as well as the controversy around the restoration of his medals. The talk is August 17, 2-3 p.m.

National Zoo Games: The cuddly (and not so cuddly) critters over at the Zoo get in on the fun with their own Games. Follow your favorite “animalete” on Twitter and Facebook, check out the opening ceremony video (cute and patriotic) and find out how exactly a cheetah trash talks all on the Zoo’s page.

Web extras: test your knowledge of Olympic mascots, read more about American soccer goalie Hope Solo’s new memoir and get cheat sheets for watching everything from archery to diving.

Update: An additional event was added

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