Spotlight

What’s new at the Smithsonian in June

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© The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation / Vaga, New York, NY / Hirshhorn Museum, SI

Eastern Influence

After Sunset
(Freer Gallery, SI)

Ends May 28, 2014
While he was building his collection of Japanese paintings, Charles Lang Freer was also a benefactor to the American painter Thomas Dewing—in part because Dewing’s moody, enigmatic landscapes (above: After Sunset, 1892) drew inspiration from Japanese paintings. “Sylvan Sounds: Freer, Dewing and Japan,” at the Freer Gallery, illuminates the connection by juxtaposing Dewing landscapes with Japanese works that Freer acquired in the 1890s.

Mixed Messaging

A box by Joseph Cornell
(© The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation / Vaga, New York, NY / Hirshhorn Museum, SI)

Ends September 8
Georges Braque began mixing swatches of paper and cloth into his paintings a century ago—and voilà, collage was born. Artists have expanded the form ever since, using material as disparate as car parts and butterfly wings. See how in “Over, Under, Next: Experiments in Mixed Media,” an exhibit of about 100 works (above: a box by Joseph Cornell, c. 1952), at the Hirshhorn.

Made in the U.S.A.

Cold Day on Cherry Street
(SAAM)

June 28, 2013 to January 5, 2014
“I am an American,” Alfred Stieglitz declared in 1921. “Photography is my passion. The search for Truth is my obsession.” Americans had been taking pictures to document people and places since the 1840s; he was trying to convince them that photography was also an art. Ultimately, they were convinced. “A Democracy of Images,” at the American Art Museum, traces this evolution in photography through more than 100 images (Robert Disraeli’s Cold Day on Cherry Street, 1932), ranging from the 19th century into the 21st.

Freedom Bound

Bound for Freedom’s Light: African Americans and the Civil War
(Mathew Brady Studio / NPG, SI)

Ends March 2, 2014
In March 1863 a slave named Gordon enlisted in the Union Army in Baton Rouge, where the photographic team of McPherson & Oliver made a portrait of his whip-scarred back. Gordon’s story is one of 20 told in "Bound for Freedom’s Light: African Americans and the Civil War,” an exhibit of vintage photographs and prints at the National Portrait Gallery.

Leviathans in the Library

Basilosaurus
(Mary Parrish / NMNH, SI)

Ends April 27, 2014
Smithsonian researchers have been studying whales since the 1850s, and the Museum of Natural History’s collection of modern and fossil specimens is unmatched. But how do scientists glean new insights from old bones? Find out at Natural History’s “Whales: From Bone to Book,” a joining of art (above: a Basilosaurus) and science.