The Smithsonian Museum of African American History & Culture
TheNational Museum of African American History and Culture
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture opened the museum’s first special exhibition - titled More Than a Picture: Selections from the Photography Collection- in May, 2017.More than 150 photographs and related objects are on display in the Special Exhibitions Gallery, which is used to mount temporary, short-term exhibitions in addition to the museum’s permanent inaugural exhibitions. From the eras of slavery and Jim Crow to Black Lives Matter, the exhibition presents “a range of American experiences that look beyond the surface to see the photographs’ significance to history and cultural meaning.” Lonnie G. Bunch III, the museum’s director, has commented that “The power of photographs is not only the ability to depict events but to bring human scale to those experiences.” The exhibition is curated by Aaron Bryant, museum curator of photography and visual culture, and Michèle Gates Moresi, supervisory museum curator of collections.
The American History Museum is exhibiting Cultivating America’s Gardens. The theme of the exhibition is “how garden-making has evolved over time, shaped by history, social attitudes, the environment, and new ideas. Illustrating this history with books and other materials from their vast holdings, the Smithsonian Libraries and Smithsonian Gardens take visitors on a special kind of garden tour.”
An aerial view of the Haupt Garden near the Smithsonian Castle - Photo by Eric Long of the Smithsonian
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 American History Museum opened a new permanent exhibition titled Many Voices, One Nationin June 2017. The exhibition explores “the five-hundred-year journey of how many distinct peoples and cultures met, mingled, and created the culture of the United States.
Migrations brought new peoples, new languages, new religions, new ideas, and new technological innovations into the American experience. The result was a dynamic society embodied in cultural and technological innovations.
As the people (populus)change, the one(unum)also changes to incorporate the newest members of the nation, including those just arrived and those just born.”
The Museum of American History & Culture opened an exhibition titled American Ballet in January. The display showcases costumes worn by ballerinas Violette Verdy, Marianna Tcherkassky, and Misty Copeland. Verdy’s displayed costume was created in 1976, by former Ballet Russes costumer Barbara Balinksa, for a White House state dinner. Tcherkassky’s costume was created by long-time Washington Ballet costume designer May Ishimoto in 1977, for her leading role in Giselle. Copeland made history in 2015 when she became the first African American woman to be named the principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. Her costume was worn that year for her Broadway debut in On the Town.
Image below: A costume featured in American Ballet
The National Postal Museum
An interior view of the Postal Museum
The National Postal Museum is exhibiting Trolley Car Mail, thru September 10. Mail delivery by trolley car began in 1892 in St. Louis, Missouri with the introduction of specially-outfitted cars. By 1908 there were mail trolleys in Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Rochester, Pittsburg, Seattle, and Cleveland. Mail trolleys were a great success until 1913, when the Post Office began using trucks to carry mail. Most cities stopped using mail trolleys between 1913 and 1919.
The National Postal Museum is exhibiting Trailblazers: 100 Years of Our National Parks thru March 25, 2018. The exhibition chronicles “intersections between mail and our national parks and features original postage stamp art from the U.S. Postal Service and artifacts loaned by the National Park Service. The exhibition “explores the myriad - and sometimes surprising - ways that mail moves to, through and from our national parks.”
Image below: Autographed National Parks Year Issue imperforate press sheet, 1934 - Depicts Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
The National Postal Museum is exhibiting the 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, which is the world’s rarest postage stamp, thru Winter 2018. The exhibition is the longest and most publicly-accessible showing of the stamp ever. The stamp is printed in black ink on magenta paper and bears the image of a three-masted ship and British Guiana’s motto in Latin: “we give and expect in return.” The historic stamp "was rediscovered by a 12-year-old Scottish boy living in South America in 1873, and from there passed through some of the most important stamp collections ever assembled. It is the only major rarity absent from the Royal Philatelic Collection owned by Queen Elizabeth II.”
Image below: The 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta
The Museum of Natural History will exhibit Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend, August 3-Summer 2019 TBD. 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 will explore narwhal biology, behavior, and cultural history, and “will reveal 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, will be prominently featured.”
Image below: A Narwhal – Photo courtesy of the Museum of Natural History.
The Natural History Museum is exhibiting The Last American Dinosaurs: Discovering a Lost World, until 2018. Visitors can explore how the museum learns about past ecosystems and organisms through the study of their fossils and look "behind the curtain" to see what goes into making a new, large-scale fossil exhibition. They can also see “Hatcher”the Triceratops, a Tyrannosaurus skull, and other fossils from the same ecosystem as Hatcher and watch fossils being prepared in a working fossil preparation lab.
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 National Museum of African Art is exhibiting Jim Chuchu's Invocations, thru June 24, 2018. The museum is the first institution to acquire and display the Kenyan multimedia artist's suite of video projections: Invocation: The Severance of Ties (2015)and Invocation: Release (2015).”
The exhibition is curated by Karen E. Milbourne. The two distinct videos loop in succession and follow the structure of initiation ritual.
The Museum of African Art is exhibiting Artists' Books and Africa for an indefinite period. The exhibition is the first to focus on African artists' books from the Smithsonian Libraries’ Warren M. Robbins Library and the National Museum of African Art.
The American Indian Museum is exhibiting Patriot Nations: Native Americans in our Nation’s Armed Forces, thru January 2018. The exhibition chronicles “the largely unknown history of Native American veterans. Native peoples have served the U.S. in every major military encounter from the Revolutionary War to today’s conflicts in the Middle East—and, at a higher rate in proportion to their population than any other ethnic group. Using art, photography and essays, the 16-panel show examines more than 300 years of Native peoples' contributions to the U.S. military.”
The National Museum of the American Indian is exhibiting The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire, thru June 1, 2018. The Inka road is "a network more than 20,000 miles long, crossing mountains and tropical lowlands, rivers and deserts, linking Cusco, the administrative capital and spiritual center of the Inka world, to the farthest reaches of its empire. The road continues to serve contemporary Andean communities across Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile as a sacred space and symbol of cultural continuity." Construction of the road is said to be "one of the monumental engineering achievements in history."
The National Museum of the American Indian is exhibiting Nation to Nation: Treaties between the United States and American Indian Nations, thru January 1, 2018. The exhibition focuses on influential Native diplomats and leaders of Indian nations and the history and legacy of U.S.–American Indian diplomacy from the colonial period through the present.
Image below: Shan Goshorn (Eastern Band of Cherokee, b. 1957), Pieced Treaty: Spider’s Web Treaty Basket, 2007, Tulsa, Oklahoma - Paper, paint - Photo by Ernest Amoroso