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 Museum of African American History & Culture is exhibiting Represent: Hip-Hop Photography in the Media Arts Gallery thru May 3, 2019.The exhibition was inspired by the four elements of hip-hop—DJ’s, MCs, breakdancers and graffiti. Image below: From the Eyejammie Hip-Hop Collection: Foxy Brown and Lil' Kim
The National Air & Space Museum began a major renovation on December 3, 2018, when two galleries—Apollo to the Moon and Looking at Earth—closed. All other galleries, shops, theaters, and the cafe remain open. Seven additional galleries will close in January 2019. The Museum will remain open throughout the seven-year renovation project with phased gallery closures and openings. Museum favorites remain on display, including the 1903 Wright Flyer, Spirit of St. Louis, Bell X-1, and the North American X-15.
A view of the National Air & Space Museum as seen from the National Mall
American History Museum
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 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 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 National Postal Museum is exhibiting Postmen of the Skies, thruMay 27, 2019.The 100th anniversary of the world’s first regularly scheduled airmail service was celebrated on May 15, 2018. Image below from left to right: pilots James “Jack” Knight, Clarence Lange, Lawrence Garrison, William “Wild Bill” Hopson, and Andrew Dumphy
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."