The David H. Koch Hall of Fossils in the National Museum of Natural History opened a major new permanent exhibition named Deep Time in early June, 2019. The exhibition showcases "the museum’s unrivaled collection of 46 million fossils, presents the most up-to-date scientific research on how life on Earth has evolved, and presents the fossil record in new ways to show how dinosaurs and other extinct creatures lived in changing environments."
Image below: In its new pose devouring a Triceratops, the Nation’s T. rex is the centerpiece of the David H. Koch Hall of Fossils—Deep Time.
The Museum of Natural History is exhibiting Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend, thru Summer 2019. A narwhal is a small Arctic whale, the male of which has a long forward-pointing spirally-twisted tusk developed from one of its teeth.
The exhibition explores narwhal biology, behavior, and cultural history, and “reveals how Inuit knowledge and experience coupled with scientific research helps us better understand these animals—and the changing Arctic and global climate.
A life-sized narwhal model, real tusk and fossil whale specimens, and Inuit cultural objects and artwork gathered in close cooperation with Arctic communities, are prominently featured.”
Image below: A Narwhal – Photo courtesy of the Museum of Natural History.
The Natural History Museum is exhibiting Objects of Wonder, thru 2019. The exhibition examines “how scientists use Smithsonian collections to enlighten and illuminate our understanding of nature and human culture.”
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden announced plans in March, 2019 to move forward with a renovation and redesign of its Sculpture Garden for the first time since the 1980s. The Museum will be working to develop a new concept for the garden with architect/artist Hiroshi Sugimoto, who successfully renovated the Museum's lobby. The museum's sunken garden, which is adjacent to the National Mall, is barely visible to Mall and museum visitors. Sugimoto’s early concept calls for "an enhanced entrance facing the National Mall, directly engaging the more than 35 million people who pass through each year. " The new garden design envisions spaces for large-scale contemporary works and performances, as well as intimate spaces for the museum’s modern masterpieces." The initial concept would include reopening the underground passage which was designed by architect Gordon Bunshaft (1909-1990), who designed the Hirshhorn, to connect the garden to the museum plaza. The passage has been closed for 30 years. Dan Sallick, Hirshhorn board chair, commented that “The project would create a ‘front door’ for the Hirshhorn on the National Mall.” Melissa Chiu, director of the Hirshhorn, commented that “As both an artist and an architect, Hiroshi Sugimoto brings a unique perspective to his designs and a deep understanding and respect for Gordon Bunshaft’s original vision for the garden.”
Please note: African Art Museum Exhibitions are listed in the Art: Smithsonian Galleries Column
African American History & Culture
The National Museum of African American History & Culture
The Museum of African American History & Culture is exhibiting Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture, thru June 2019. The exhibition uses the life of Winfrey and her 25-year daytime talk show “as a lens to explore contemporary American history and culture, especially issues of power, gender and the media. "The exhibition features video clips on a range of subjects, interactive interviews with Winfrey, costumes from her films Beloved and The Color Purple and artifacts from Harpo Studios in Chicago, home of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Winfrey received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, won seven Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Talk Show Host, received the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award and is the first self-made African American female billionaire. The exhibition “probes the way in which America shaped Winfrey and how Winfrey’s work has shaped America.” The exhibition is displayed in three sections: America Shapes Oprah, 1950s–1980s, The Oprah Winfrey Showand Oprah Shapes America.
The National Air & Space Museum began a major renovation in December, 2018. The revitalization of the building’s exterior and infrastructure, and the transformation of all 23 exhibitions and presentation spaces, will take about seven years. For the first few years, some of the most popular artifacts will remain on display, including the “Spirit of St. Louis,” the 1903 Wright Flyer, Bell X-1, the Apollo Lunar Module and Skylab. The first set of galleries are scheduled to reopen in 2022. The building will undergo complete refacing of the exterior cladding, replacement of outdated mechanical systems and other repairs and improvements.
A view of the National Air & Space Museum as seen from the National Mall
The National Air and Space Museum will display Neil Armstrong's spacesuitbeginning on July 16, which is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11. The exhibit will be the first time the suit has been displayed in 13 years. The suit has just completed a multi-year conservation. A state-of-the-art display case and mannequin have been created to help protect the fragile suit while it's on display. There will also be additional special events marking the anniversary, July 18-20.
The National Museum of American History will open an exhibition titled My Computing Devices on August 28.The exhibition will showcase the complex story of “how Americans came to use and own computers and will challenge them to examine their own personal relationships with devices. A range of mechanical and electronic objects from the museum’s collections will be on view. Some were inventions of little practical use; others were the tools of scientists, business people, engineers, and consumers; and still others were toys, often designed by and for educators. A selfie station will include a mirror to capture both the visitors and their devices as they reflect on their personal computing experience.”
The Smithsonian announced in December that the Latino Center’s first gallery space, the Molina Family Latino Gallery, will open in the National Museum of American History in 2021.The Center has been called the corazón (heart) of Latinidad at the Smithsonian. The gallery will celebrate the U.S. Latino experience and will feature 4,500 square feet of bilingual stories for all audiences. Rotating exhibitions will feature multimedia activities, objects and first-person narratives - complemented by participatory experiences and viewer-generated content. The gallery space will be made possible by a gift of $10 million by five siblings in the Molina family. They made the gift in memory of their father Dr. C. David Molina, a health-care leader in California who founded the publicly-traded Fortune 500 company Molina Healthcare Inc. The planned inaugural exhibition, Making Home: Latino Stories of Community and Belonging, will examine the historical roots of Latino culture as it shaped the continent and the U.S.
Image below:A rendering of a planned interactive exhibit - Credit: Museum Environments/Branded Environments
The National Museum of American History will exhibit Illegal to Be You: Gay History Beyond Stonewall June 21-2020. In June 1969, LGBTQ+ community members resisted a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a bar in lower Manhattan. This event and others from that time were pivotal to the modern LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. The museum marks this 50th anniversary with a display featuring objects from its collections that put the history of that memorable event within a larger and longer experience of being gay.
The American History Museum will exhibit One Life: Marian Anderson June 28 - May 17, 2020. The exhibition "shifts the attention from Anderson’s historic 1939 performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to underexplored moments in her career. The exhibition examines the ways artists, concert promoters, and others wielded her iconic likeness as a powerful symbol in the pursuit of civil rights. The paintings, photographs, personal effects, and archival materials provide a more nuanced understanding of how Anderson’s many roles, as singer, diplomat, and muse, helped shatter segregationist policies on and off the stage."
The National Museum of American History will exhibit Everyday Luxury: Silk Quilts from the National Collection, July 30-January 2020.The exhibition will feature rarely-seen late 19th-century silk quilts from the museum’s collection. These textiles “tell a little known story about American industry, art, fads, and marketing. The quilts were made to be seen rather than slept under and were sometimes called “parlor throws.””
Image below:1890–1900 Bates Family Silk Parlor Throw. Visitwww.si.edu/
The National Museum of American History is exhibiting Forgotten Workers: Chinese Migrants and the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad thru Spring, 2020.The exhibition marks the 150th anniversary of the completion of the railroad ..... a critical episode in the development of the American West. The exhibition focuses on the forgotten Chinese workers who built the western leg of the railroad across the Sierra Nevada Mountains. A large floor graphic “maps the U.S., so that visitors can “walk the Transcontinental Railroad route.” A display “describes how the railroad was a catalyst for positive change but displaced Native Americans and caused the near extinction of the American buffalo.”
The American History Museum is exhibiting Magnificent Obsessions: Why We Collect, thru July 1, 2020.People collect to gather information about the world, to preserve the past, and to follow their interests and desires. For some, it is a lifelong pursuit. Pioneering collectors shaped Smithsonian Libraries. Each had their own unique passions, and together, these diverse collections form a vast network of knowledge. Smithsonian Libraries continue to build upon the work of these curious collectors. They preserve historic treasures and everyday items to provide a window onto the past. They seek out new sources and collections to advance research and scholarship. And they share the collections with the world to inspire curiosity and spark new ideas. What will they collect next?
The American History Museum's new wing, whichfocuses on American culture, opened with America's Listening on October 19.America’s Listening tells the story of recorded sound and five of the innovations that contributed to how we consume music and movies today. Artifacts on view include Thomas Edison’s phonograph, Alexander Graham Bell’s graphophone, Emile Berliner’s gramophone, Ray Dolby’s noise reduction system, and Apple’s iPod.
The American History Museum opened Ruby Slippers and American Culture Displays on October 19."Dorothy's Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz have returned as one of eight installations displaying American history through culture, entertainment, and the arts. Other artifacts on view include a New York Yankee Stadium ticket booth, jazz and classical instruments, and a video game wall. “A stained glass window from the Victor Company’sheadquarters in Camden, New Jersey, featuring Nipper, the iconic dog listening to his master’s recorded voice, is the culture floor’s landmark object."
The American History Museum is exhibiting The American Revolution: A World War, thru July 9, 2019. The exhibition examines the 1781 victory at Yorktown and the Franco-American partnership that made it possible. The exhibition “captivates visitors with compelling objects, including two paintings created by Louis-Nicolas van Blarenberghe as copies of those presented to King Louis XVI. The exhibition features The Siege of Yorktownand The Surrender of Yorktown, both painted in 1786, and George Washington’s early-1780s portrait by Charles Willson Peale, united for the first time in a national museum since their display together in the 1700s. They appeared in the Comte de Rochambeau’s chamber as a reminder of the French general’s partnership with the American general.
Image below: The Siege of Yorktown by Louis-Nicolas van Blarenberghe
The American History Museum opened a new permanent exhibition titled American Democracy: The Great Leap of Faithin June, 2017. The exhibition “examines the founding political principles of the nation: citizenship in a pluralistic society; inclusion and exclusion; and political participation and engagement.”
Treasures which are exhibited include:
. the desk on which Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence . the lamp George Washington used while writing his farewell address . the inkstand Abraham Lincoln used to draft the Emancipation Proclamationand . the table on which Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote the Declaration of Sentiments
Image below: In 1776 Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence on this portable lap desk of his own design. Featuring a hinged writing board and a locking drawer for papers, pens, and inkwell, the desk was Jefferson's companion as a revolutionary patriot, American diplomat, and president of the United States.
The National Museum of The American Indian is displaying an exhibition titled The Other Palm Springs, thru January 31, 2020. “The exhibition is about a land battle at the core of the conflict between Western expansion and indigenous peoples. A one-square-mile tract in downtown Palm Springs, California, Section 14 forms the heart of the reservation belonging to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. As the city evolved from a desert outpost to a playground of the rich and famous, Section 14 became more desirable to developers. Between the 1940s and 1960s, competing interests vied for this valuable land. It became a battleground over issues of tribal sovereignty, land zoning, leasing, economics, and race.”
The National Museum of the American Indian is exhibiting Americans thru 2027.The theme of the exhibition is the presence of names and images of Indians everywhere in the U.S. - despite the fact that American Indians comprise less than 1 percent of our population. Military weapons, towns, products, advertising, and more are named for Indians.The exhibition features "nearly 350 objects and images, from a Tomahawk missile to baking powder cans, all demonstrating that Indian words and images are everywhere in American life. The exhibition shows how Americans have always been fascinated, conflicted, and profoundly shaped by their relationship to American Indians."
Image below: Note that the motorcycle is named Indian- Photo courtesy Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, Birmingham, Ala
The National Postal Museum is exhibiting In the Garden: The Beauty of Flowering Plants on Stamps, thru June 2019, (closing date to be determined).The exhibition "highlights the variety of flowering plants commemorated on US postage stamps during the past 50 years and explores artistic themes that emerged during this period. The exhibit displays at least 30 pieces of developmental and final artwork used to produce at least 28 flora stamps. The use of stamp art in various phases of development enables visitors to understand the role design artwork plays in the production of postage stamps. The artwork is borrowed from the renowned Postmaster General’s Art Collection which is on a long-term loan to the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum."