Wednesday Roundup: Baseball, Bike Racks and Road Trips

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Take to the highway—If the sweltering summer heat has you itching to hit the road, don’t forget your camera. The folks at Eye Level have culled together some of the finest paintings of popular road tripping destinations in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. With such gems as Ray Strong's 1934 portrait of the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, and Thomas Moran's late 1800s painting of Yellowstone National Park, Eye Level hopes that travelers will match the locations in the paintings with images from their vacations. If any of the places featured in these paintings show up on your road trip itinerary, take a snapshot and upload it to the blog’s Flickr group. From Alaska to Georgia and Highway 1 to Route 66, you’re bound to have a photo to add to the mix.

What’s all the hoopla?— It seems as though the era of the parking meter may be waning. "Pay and Display" parking stations are replacing the old quarter-slot meters, and the new NYC Hoop is on the horizon, putting those same meters at risk of obsolescence as a do-it-yourself bike rack. What’s the NYC Hoop? In 2008, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum teamed up with Google and the city’s Department of Transportation (among others) to hold the CityRacks Design Competition, which challenged designers to create the future bike rack of the city, where the number of cyclists jumped 66% from 2007 to 2009. Winners Ian Mahaffy and Maarten De Greeve invented something that looks suspiciously like the bicycle tires that will be chained to it. Check out the Cooper-Hewitt’s Design Blog for pictures of the pleasantly rotund winning design that will soon be flooding the streets of Manhattan.

Native America’s pastime— In honor of baseball season, Smithsonian’s SIRIS blog (where the archivists and librarians have the chance to show off their favorites from the collections) has posted a small collection of photos commemorating the well-documented but little-known participation of Native Americans in the sport. The photos were taken between 1879 and 1894 of the baseball teams at the Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Famous for producing athletes including Jim Thorpe, this off-reservation boarding school was one of many that aimed to assimilate Native American children into majority American culture.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a…blue igloo? As it turns out, that giant blue igloo-esque installment recently added to the Udvar-Hazy Center is... a planetarium! Many thanks to the AirSpace blog for clearing things up. As we’ve already gathered from its unusual appearance, this is no ordinary planetarium. For starters, it’s portable AND inflatable, reaching its full size in only five minutes. Instead of sitting in chairs, 30-40 audience members sit on the floor of the museum for stargazing. Educators can design their own shows to teach about everything from constellations to solar eclipses.

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