Smithsonian

Now available is the Biography of a Phantom: A Robert Johnson Blues Odyssey by Robert "Mack" McCormick (above center with Spider Kilpatrick, c. 1960), and this summer, the much-anticipated book is complemented by an exhibit at the National Museum of American History, a box CD set from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and a concert celebration at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall.

Legendary Bluesman Robert Johnson Had Demons. So Did His Biographer

The long-awaited “Biography of a Phantom” unravels some of the mystery and intrigue

One-third of the world’s population can’t see the starry band of light in the night sky that makes up the Milky Way (above). The new show “Lights Out: Recovering Our Night Sky” at the National Museum of Natural History looks at the devastating impacts of artificial light.

Planet Positive

Why It’s Time for a Worldwide Lights-Out Program

A new Smithsonian exhibition delves into the issue of light pollution, with easy solutions offering an immediate change

The Smithsonian's podcast Sidedoor uncovers the climate change insights hidden in old paintings (above: Shivalal, Maharana Fateh Singh Crossing a River During the Monsoon (detail), c. 1893).

What Centuries-Old Indian Court Paintings Tell Us About Climate Change

This month’s Smithsonian podcasts include a deep dive into India’s monsoon weather patterns and discussion of animals in flight

A revolutionary new tool, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and NASA, will monitor the chemistry and changing dynamics of major pollutants (above: an Arizona power generating station).

This Eye in the Sky Promises Major Insights Into the Air We Breathe

The satellite mission TEMPO will detect pollutants at a neighborhood scale across the nation

Tens of thousands of people in the United States may be connected to this album, which museum officials say offers an "unprecedented opportunity for people of mixed heritage, especially, to access never-before-seen ancestral portraits."

Find Out If Your Ancestor Is Among These 19th-Century Silhouettes in This Newly Digitized Collection

The itinerant artist William Bache’s portraits are contaminated by arsenic, but now the National Portrait Gallery offers easy access

A vintage promotional photograph commissioned and approved by Redfeather around 1915 is now held in the collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

The Stars Are Aligned at the National Museum of American History

The Forgotten History of Tsianina Redfeather, the Beloved American Indian Opera Singer

A portrait of the performer debuts in the exhibition “Entertainment Nation”

The octagonal building with its tongue-in-groove peaked roof is "really a beautiful piece of architecture,” says the museum's conservator Dawn Wallace. “You can tell it was heavily used, but it’s beautiful construction.”

Crowds Roared, a Century Ago, on Opening Day for the Mighty House That Ruth Built

An original Yankee Stadium ticket booth recalls the story of that first game, which featured a thundering three-run homer from the Great Bambino

The museum's curator Ryan Lintelman says the egg is emblematic of the cultural import of Weaver’s character Ellen Ripley, who battles the magnificently ugly "xenomorph."

The Stars Are Aligned at the National Museum of American History

Smithsonian Curator Reveals New Details on an Egg From Sigourney Weaver’s Iconic ‘Alien’ Franchise

Get the inside scoop on the iconic prop, now on view in the exhibition “Entertainment Nation”

“Spirit in the Dark: Religion in Black Music, Activism and Popular Culture,” (above: Nina Simone by G. Marshall Wilson, 1959) is on view at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture through November 2023.

Movements Capturing the Spiritual Roots of Black Culture

A new exhibition of rarely seen images and artifacts chronicles the African American religious experience

During World War II, Executive Order 9066 authorized the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans (above: In Los Angeles in April 1942, dozens of families wait for a train to Manzanar War Relocation Center in Owens Valley, California).

Japanese American Artists Recall the Trauma of Wartime Incarceration

Smithsonian podcasts explore the legacy of Executive Order 9066 and the camera that almost didn’t make it to the Juno spacecraft launch

"The Exhibit: Finding the Next Great Artist" premieres Friday, March 3 at 9 p.m. ET on MTV, and on the Smithsonian Channel Tuesday, March 7 at 9 p.m.

Behind the Scenes of the New Reality Series, ‘The Exhibit’

Seven artists compete for a $100,000 purse and an exhibition at the Hirshhorn in this ground-breaking show airing on the Smithsonian Channel

A brown-green vessel bearing the inscription, "A noble Jar for pork or beef / then carry it a round to the indian chief" made by the enslaved craftsman David "Dave" Drake, is now on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

For the Enslaved Potter David Drake, His Literary Practice Was His Resistance

This 19th-century vessel, made to store meat, carries a powerful backstory of Drake's defiance of the laws of enslavement

Astronomers and musicians have developed “sonifications” to bring the symphony of the cosmos to a wider audience.

What Does the Universe Sound Like?

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and other researchers have melded astronomy and music to offer a new oeuvre

Ihor Poshyvailo, director of the Maidan Museum in Kyiv and co-founder of Ukraine’s Heritage Emergency Response Initiative, along with his crew, salvages the remains of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary built in 1862 and shelled by the Russians in March 2022.

How Ukrainians Are Defending Their Cultural Heritage From Russian Destruction

The Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative and its partners are aiding in the fight to protect the country's history and to document attempts to erase it

“When an individual walks through this experience, they are a part of history, and now they can contribute to the future,” says the museum's Asantewa Boakyewa.

This Show Is Everything You Need for a Year of Meaningful Community Activism

The immersive exhibition, "The Utopia Project," at the Anacostia Community Museum is about setting high goals and the means for achieving them

At the Paris World's Fair a powerful display of hand-drawn diagrams (above: Income and expenditure of 150 Negro families in Atlanta, Ga.,U.S. designed by W.E.B. Du Bois and his students) called attention to the unrecognized contributions of Black Americans. The fragile posters are being rotatated in and out of an exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum through May 2023.

How W.E.B. Du Bois Disrupted America’s Dominance at the World’s Fair

With bar graphs and pie charts, the sociologist and his Atlanta students demonstrated Black excellence in the face of widespread discrimination

Miriam Wosk's illustration of a blue-skinned, eight-armed multitasking woman adorned the first cover of Ms. magazine. "Making her blue was a way of making her universal," says Gloria Steinem in this month's "Portraits" podcast.

Explore the Founding of 'Ms.' Magazine and the Making of a Space Telescope Photograph in This Month’s Featured Podcasts

“AirSpace” speaks to astronomer Shauna Edson and “Portraits” drops in on activist and author Gloria Steinhem

The installation Create to Free Yourselves: Abraham Lincoln and the History of Freeing Slaves in America by Georges Adéagbo (above) will be on view at President Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington, D.C. through February 15.

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At Abraham Lincoln's Cottage, Artist Georges Adéagbo Pays Homage to the Great Emancipator

The award-winning Beninese artist unveils a work dedicated to the president’s “generosity of heart”

C-3PO and R2-D2 from the 1983 Star Wars — Return of the Jedi takes center stage at the new exhibition "Entertainment Nation / Nación de Espectáculo" on long-time view at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

The Stars Are Aligned at the National Museum of American History

Banged-Up, but Still Sassy, R2-D2 and C-3PO Are Back and Thrilling Fans

Actor Jimmy Vee says climbing inside the droid costume, now on view at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum, is like entering “your own world"

At the Natural History Museum, "Cellphone: Unseen Connections" opens June 23; at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City, "Give Me a Sign: The Language of Symbols" goes on view May 13; and "Ay-Ō's Happy Rainbow Hell" is part of the National Museum of Asian Art's centennial exhibitions, opening March 25.

Twenty-Three Smithsonian Shows to See in 2023

A rare Bible, George Clinton's colorful wig, Disney World history and Japanese ghosts debut this year

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