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National Museum of African Art
Rayon woman's wrapper composed of twelve four inch strips sewn together with each strip covered almost entirely with supplementary weft patterning.

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National Museum of African Art
Man's wrapper with tight plain weave background with supplementary wefts in the form of stools, umbrellas, stripes and textured squares and blue warp and multi-colored wefts.

Wrapped in Pride: Ghanaian Kente and African American Identity

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
The history and use of kente in Africa, and contemporary kente and its manifestations in the United States.

World Habitat Classroom Activities

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students consider whether everyone in their community has access to adequate shelter. They write a persuasive paper on the subject.

Working Together: Cooperative Design

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students take nature as a model for a class design project.

Work Hard and Work Smart: Designing for Athletes (PreK-3)

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Activity in which students design a sports bag for athletes, investigate varied sports, interview people involved in varied sports, and engage in problem solving as they create a new design.

Work Hard and Work Smart: Designing for Athletes (4-8)

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Activity in which students design a sports bag for athletes, investigate varied sports, interview people involved in varied sports, and engage in problem solving as they create a new design.

Work Hard and Work Smart: Designing for Athletes

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Lesson in which students design a sports bag for athletes, investigate varied sports and consider their design needs, and engage in problem solving to create a new design.

Word Wake

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students hold a spooky Halloween funeral to lay to rest spelling and grammatical errors in their own writing.

Word Play: Contemporary Art by Xu Bing

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Interactives based on the artwork of contemporary Chinese artist Xu Bing, who focuses on mixing language with fine art. Includes images and animations highlighting stand-out installations and interviews with the artist.

Word Art with King's Words

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Lesson in which students examine one or more of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s letters or speeches and turn powerful words and phrases into word art using the online tool, Wordle. Part of the resource 'Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nonviolence.'

Woody Allen

National Portrait Gallery
Early in his career as a stand-up comedian, Woody Allen was called the “undisputed master of one-liners.” Much of his comedy was introspective and explained his own shortcomings, like his poor performance in high school. “It was a school for emotionally disturbed teachers,” he would quip. And it was not his fault that he failed to make the chess team because of his height (five feet, six inches). Allen would eventually find his real niche as a filmmaker, with such popular comedies as Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1979), and Hannah and Her Sisters (1986). The winner of four Academy Awards, Allen has appeared on the cover of Time twice since this 1972 cover.

En los inicios de su carrera como comediante de stand-up, a Woody Allen solían llamarlo un “el maestro indiscutible del chiste breve”. Mucho de su material cómico era introspectivo y explicaba sus defectos personales, como su mal desempeño en la escuela. “Era una escuela para maestros con problemas emocionales”, decía, y no era culpa de él si no lo habían aceptado en el equipo de ajedrez por ser muy bajito (cinco pies y seis pulgadas). Con el tiempo, Allen encontraría su verdadero nicho como cineasta, con comedias tan populares como Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1979) y Hannah and Her Sisters (1986). Ha ganado cuatro premios de la Academia y ha figurado en la portada de Time dos veces desde esta imagen de 1972.

Wonder Bound: Rare Books on Early Museums

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Exhibit of books discussing the collection, exhibition, and preservation habits of early museums, galleries, and their libraries. Includes enlarged images of many resources.

Womens' Art Class at the Chase School of Art

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : b&w ; 13 x 23 cm. Photo shows a group of women with blank canvases on easels, circled around the instructor, William Merritt Chase.
Taken by the studio of Joseph Byron.
Published in: Archives of American Art Journal 1973, v. 13, no. 3, p. 12

Women's Roles in Post World War II

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students follow the design process as they imagine a more equitable labor market in the years following the war.

Women of Our Time

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Interactive gallery displaying photographs of some of twentieth-century America's most famous and influential women. Includes audio commentary by the exhibit's curator and documentary video about the evolution of photographic portraiture.

Women Who Shape History: Education Resources

Smithsonian Magazine

These resources, compiled by the education teams across the Smithsonian Institution, feature lessons, activities, exhibitions, videos and tools that can be used to teach students about women's history in America.

Use this Learning Lab collection as a response to the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.'s social media campaign asking, "Can you name five women artists (#5WomenArtists)?" The artists featured are Yayoi Kusama, Frida Kahlo, Barbara Kruger, Alma Thomas and Elaine de Kooning with short biographical notes, selected works and learning resources.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
Grade(s): K-12

Women have been and continue to be an important part of the aerospace industry. In this episode of STEM in 30, students will explore the women who are helping pave the way to Mars.
Provider: National Air and Space Museum
Grade(s): K-12

This collection teaches students about the changing role of women during World War II: their role in the workplace, increasing presence in the military, and participation in voluntary organizations that supported the war. Students should think about how these activities reinforced traditional notions of gender divisions while they also allowed women to experience new activities.
Provider: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
Grade(s): 3-8

The National Portrait Gallery’s recently unveiled the portrait of Former First Lady Michelle Obama. In this video, students will learn more about the artist, Amy Sherald.
Provider: National Portrait Gallery
Grade(s): K-12

Students will identify famous women, categorize them into groups and conduct research to learn more about them. They will use what they learned to create a classroom museum focused on women's history.
Provider: Smithsonian TweenTribune.com
Grade(s): 3-10

Students will identify all of the statues of women in a selected area, plot the statues' locations on a map and explain why the statues exist. Then they will select another historical woman with a connection to that place, decide where a statue honoring her should be erected and create a sketch of a statue honoring her achievements.
Provider: Smithsonian TweenTribune.com
Grade(s): 3-10

Students will create presentations and encourage classmates to compare the candidate's qualifications to the list of leadership traits and characteristics the class has identified. After all candidates have been introduced, poll the class to see which of leaders they would most like to have in charge. Challenge students to explain why this candidate rose above the others.
Provider: Smithsonian TweenTribune.com
Grade(s): 3-10

Students will brainstorm ideas for a student-led organization that is all-inclusive. They will iron out the details for how it will work and design a logo and other items that reflect their "brand." Then they will create a brochure that will entice fellow students to join their group.
Provider: Smithsonian TweenTribune.com
Grade(s): 3-10

Students will select a field of engineering and conduct research to learn more about it. They will write a summary telling what surprised them the most. Then they will create a brochure to teach others about their chosen field of engineering.
Provider: Smithsonian TweenTribune.com
Grade(s): 3-10

Students will write a comic strip or graphic novel about a historical topic that features someone whose contributions have been forgotten over time. Their plots will incorporate related objects found at Smithsonian museums.
Provider: Smithsonian TweenTribune.com
Grade(s): 3-10

In this activity, children will take a close look at a photograph of Martha Graham, then collaborate with a partner or family member to create their own dance photographs.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 2-4

Julia Morgan Built a Castle is a book about one of America's first women architects, who designed almost 800 buildings during her career. Students will explore the story by reading together. Then they will complete activities to learn more about architecture and how buildings are designed.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-4

Genealogy is the study of family ancestries and histories, and a great way to learn women's history. In this activity, students will learn about the methods and tools needed to conduct a genealogical interview.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-4

This OurStory module, entitled Great Women of Our Pasts, includes links to hands-on activities and a list of recommended readings related to the topic of women's history.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-4

This teacher's resource challenges students to think about the Lincoln-Keckley as an object that has multiple symbolic meanings.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 9-12

During this activity, students will actively read Mama Went to Jail for the Vote, using the suggested reading strategies. They will build reading skills, develop vocabulary, and learn about the women’s suff­rage movement and the importance of voting.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-4

Students will recognize a female role model in their lives by creating a special symbolic pin.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 1-4

Students will learn about women’s struggles in the United States to obtain the right to vote. They will learn more about the 1920 suffrage movement and how women finally achieved victory with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-4

This activity challenges students to think about the 1898 Standard Voting Machine and the democratization of the voting process in the United States.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 9-12

In this online exhibition, students will learn about Gear and Lever voting, meant to ensure the confidentiality and efficiency of the election process.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 9-12

Students will learn about Louisa Susannah Wells, a female colonist who was loyal to King George III, who was banished from America and returned to England after the War of Independence. They will take what they learn and answer questions objectively without judging her decisions.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 6-12

Students will gain an understanding of the role women played in the Civil War. They will appreciate the ways in which museums use objects to study how people in the past did their jobs.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 3-6

Kick-off a research project on gender roles on the World War II home front with two brief video clips and selection of primary sources.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 6-12

Maria Isabel Solis Thomas moved across the country to work in a shipyard on the World War II home front. Listen to her story, and then study the supporting primary sources to answer the discussion questions.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 6-12

Students will analyze images and objects relating to Celia Cruz and create an exhibition using personal objects.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-4

Students will learn more about First Lady Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson, wife of President Lyndon Baines Johnson and her work to protect the environment and bring beauty to every community.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-4

Students will examine examples of persuasive writing from Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, then compose persuasive statements about an environmental cause.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): 4-6

Students will learn about Rachel Carson and how her book Silent Spring changed the way people thought about their relationship to nature.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-4

Quilts do more than just keep us warm; they preserve history by telling us stories about the people who made them. In this hands-on activity, students will learn about women's history by studying quilts.
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-4

Smithsonian women scientists are an adventurous group: from hunting meteorites in Antarctica, exploring the farthest reaches of the Universe from remote mountain tops, to measuring mercury levels from the depths of the ocean to the canopy of the rain forest. Learn more about a few of these amazing women.
Provider: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Grade(s): K-12

For Women’s History Month, Smithsonian Folkways offers free audio tracks and videos featuring women around the world who “break musical barriers.” Lesson plans and student activities are included.
Provider: Smithsonian Folkways
Grade(s): K-12

This website explores the historical accomplishments of women inventors and includes a video, activities, and a teacher resource guide about eight female inventors. 
Provider: Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation
Grade(s): K-12

This website features women's contributions to flight, their stories, and claims to fame throughout history. This guide leads to all the women that have artifacts or photographs in the National Air and Space Museum.
Provider: National Air and Space Museum
Grade(s): K-12

This virtual tour introduces four exceptional American women who succeeded in business in the twentieth century. The website features biographical information, timelines, games, and historical background for each of the women. 
Provider: National Museum of American History
Grade(s): K-12

The Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture prepared this annotated bibliography on African American Women Artists. 
Provider: The Anacostia Community Museum
Grade(s): K-12

A list of recommended readings about Native American women prepared by the National Museum of the American Indian Resource Center.
Provider: National Museum of the American Indian
Grade(s): K-12

The Anacostia Museum's Office of Education offers a reading list for children about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. 
Provider: The Anacostia Community Museum
Grade(s): K-12

Women Who Score Well on Both Math And Verbal Tests Still Don’t Choose Science Careers

Smithsonian Magazine

Women remain underrepresented in the sciences, but why? One team publishing in Psychological Science claims that it’s simply because women have more career choices these days. 

To arrive at this conclusion, the researchers examined national survey data from 1,490 students, both male and female, bound for college. The partipants were interviewed in the 12th grade, then again when they were 33 years old. They answered questions about their SAT scores, their motivations and beliefs and, later, their occupations.

Those who had the highest verbal abilities—a group already dominated by women—they found, were most likely to avoid a career in science, technology or engineering. Given that women are more likely to have high verbal abilities, the researchers then assumed that women with high math abilities are more likely than men with high math abilities to also excel at verbal skills. With two skills sets, women, the researchers said, had a broader range of career possibilities open to them.

Not surprisingly, students who originally reported feeling confident about their math abilities and only moderate about their verbal abilities were more likely to go on to a career in science or a related field. The researchers say this means that mathematics may play a more integral role in those persons’ identity, leading them to a career in science.

The researchers think that, in light of their findings, educators should stop worrying about boosting girls’ abilities in math and focus instead on emphasizing how cool careers in science are to the girls who excel at both math and liberal arts.

The researchers do not explore why women may be choosing a career as English teachers over a principle investigator in a physics lab. Whether or not other factors come into play—such as sexism, difference in mentoring styles, or false expectations that a career in science will automatically equate with giving up on having a family—are not mentioned in their statement. But MSN reports on another possible explanation—inequality in science fields:

Another study from this month said that while female scientists have made gains in the field, they face “persistent career challenges.”

The study, published in the journal Nature, said that U.S. universities and colleges tend to employ many more male than female scientists, and that men in the field earn significantly more than women.

“One of the most persistent problems,” the study says, “is that a disproportionate fraction of qualified women drop out of science careers in the very early stages.”

The study suggests the reason for this could be a lack of role models, resulting in females in the field feeling like they don’t belong.

The idea that women are simply choosing other careers isn’t entirely new. The Boston Globe‘s Ideas section wrote about two studies that drew similar conclusions in 2008:

When it comes to certain math- and science-related jobs, substantial numbers of women – highly qualified for the work – stay out of those careers because they would simply rather do something else….The researchers are not suggesting that sexism and cultural pressures on women don’t play a role, and they don’t yet know why women choose the way they do. One forthcoming paper in the Harvard Business Review, for instance, found that women often leave technical jobs because of rampant sexism in the workplace.

This research all points to one clear confusion: more women could be entering science fields than do right now. Why they don’t is a more complicated question.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Women in Science 
Women Are Still Discriminated Against in Science 

Women Breaking Musical Barriers: She Isn't Supposed to Play That

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Website traces the history and diversity of women in music through text, video recordings, and audio recordings.

Women Artisans Transforming Afghanistan Have a Major Booster in a Former First Lady

Smithsonian Magazine

Laura Bush may have been a quiet First Lady—her clothes didn’t make headlines, her political positions didn’t make news—but she is no wallflower.

When she latches on to an issue, it sticks. And her involvement with the country of Afghanistan goes way, way back. When Bush was a sixth-grader in her hometown of Midland, Texas, her teacher assigned the students to do a report on a country of their choosing. In the introduction to a new book, We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope, Bush writes that she wanted to focus on a place “completely exotic and remote from anything I had ever seen.” She traced a map of the world and her pre-teen finger landed on faraway Afghanistan.

She recently toured a new Smithsonian exhibition focusing on the traditional arts of Afghanistan, and at the end of her visit stated her strongly held conviction that whoever becomes the next president, a continued American presence in Afghanistan is vital: “It is important that we stay engaged—with a real commitment—for a long time.”

The tumultuous decades after Laura Bush wrote her school report have seen the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, September 11th, the rise of the Taliban, and the years-long, much-debated American involvement in the country. Decades of conflict have not only decimated the country’s political institutions and economy but also laid waste to its cultural heritage. But slowly, that is beginning to change. “Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan,” a new exhibition from the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery that makes Afghan artisans and craftspeople the stars of the show, is testament to that change.

Afghan artist Sughra Hussainy and all the craftspeople featured in the exhibition were trained at an extraordinary institution in Kabul called Turquoise Mountain whose mission is to preserve and foster the age-old arts of Afghanistan. (Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain)

Intricately worked jewelry, stunningly glazed pottery in vibrant hues, and meticulously woven rugs are on display, but it is the people themselves who are an integral part of the exhibition, making this show more of an experience than a traditional art museum viewing.

The mix of traditional arts and contemporary, innovative approaches to creating a museum show is exemplified by the traditional wooden sayaban (or pavilion) at its center: It is outfitted with handsome maroon striped pillows that beckon a visitor to sit—but also with iPads. Museumgoers are encouraged to touch, magnifying glasses hang from the wall, and the show is on Instagram and Twitter. A rotation of 17 artisans will be in residence at the museum while the show is up (through January 2017), and one of them, diminutive, exuberant Sughra Hussainy helped guide Bush through the exhibition on a recent evening.

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. The Institute is home to the Alwaleed Bin Talal School of Calligraphy and Miniature Painting, the premier school for these arts in Afghanistan. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Master carver Nasser Mansouri, fled Iran at age 11 following the Soviet invasion, and is now working in the old city of Kabul, employing a large number of young Afghan craft artists. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. A geodesic dome crafted by master carver Nasser Mansouri, who is producing woodwork for UNESCO's restoration of the Gowhar Shad Mausoleum in Herat. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Detail of a Nuristani carving (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. After incorporating 25 different colors into the design, rug maker Erbil Tezcan employed a team of weavers that worked for six weeks to complete the rug. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Wool drying near the old city of Kabul at Turquiose Mountain, Afghanistan's premiere institution for vocation training in the arts and crafts. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Nasser Mansouri (left) fled to Iran at the age of 11. There, he was apprenticed to an Iraqi master of classical wood carving. When he returned to Afghanistan in 2006, Mansouri became a woodwork master at the Institute. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Calligraphy from the shop of Samira Kitman (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Artisan Samira Kitman (middle) runs one of Afghanistan's most successful businesses, employing 15 professional caligraphers. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Afghanistan is one of the last countries where carpets are made completely by hand with natural dyes. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Fakhria Nezami was born a refugee in Peshawar, Pakistan, in 1989. At the Turquoise Mountain Institute, she specializes in the technique of 'nuqtapardazi'—a type of pointillism that requires use of the tip of a paintbrush to dab thousands of tiny dots in an intricate design. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. 'Jali' is a form of woodwork that uses slivers of wood, heldtogether by delicate joints, to form hundreds of geometricpatterns. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Afghanistan was once a great center of civilization at the heart of the Silk Road. It inherited the traditions of India, Persia and Central Asia and over the centuries blended them into a unique artistic culture. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. British jewelry designer Pippa Small (left) has been visiting Turquoise Mountain since 2008 and has produced eight collections in collaboration with Afghanistan’s jewelers. Her firm was named the Ethical Jewelry Business of the Year at the 2015 UK Jewelry Awards. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Afghan lapis lazuli has been traded for thousands of years. It can be found in Tutankhamen's funeral mask and was ground into powder for the blue pigments used by Renaissance artists in Europe. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Since 2006 Turquoise Mountain has worked in partnership with the community of Murad Khani, providing employment, education, healthcare, and a renewed sense of pride. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. During the 1990s rubber shoes were made from tires at this site. Today this grand serai is home to the Institute's ceramics school. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Applying to the Institute is a highly competitive process, with only 15 students selected in each craft every year. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Until recently, the Old City of Kabul was buried under several feet of garbage. It had no running water, drainage, or electricity. Its historic buildings were in ruins and were being threatened by modern development. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Turquoise Mountain is also committed to providing a sustainable source of income for Afghanistan's young women. Currently over half of the school's calligraphy and jewelry students are women. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Today this building houses the Turquoise Mountain Institute dormitory, where visiting students and teachers stay. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. When Turquoise Mountain started working in the historic district of Murad Khani in Kabul, it was on the World Monuments Fund Watch List of the world's most endangered sites. On the verge of collapse, the wall of this building had to be held in place with wooden props. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Born in 1988 in Mazar-e-Sharif, Zahir Shah Amin is the son of one of Afghanistan's most renowned tile makers. He joined the first tile-making program at the Turquoise Mountain Institute in 2007—today he is its head teacher. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. The small class sizes allow students to work closely with the Institute's distinguished master artisans, with one teacher to every four students. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Born in 1992 in Pakistan, Storai Stanizai comes from an Afghan family with a strong connection to the arts. "In life you must do the things you want," she says. "I do not see myself as just a jeweler... I am also an artist." (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Turquoise Mountain woodworkers often incorporatetraditional styles and techniques, such as 'jali' latticework and 'nuristani' carving, into contemporary pieces for everyday use. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. A teacher at the Turquoise Mountain Institute in Kabul delicately crafts calligraphy. The Institute has trained more than 450 artisans since its founding eight years ago. (original image)

Image by Courtesy of Turquoise Mountain. Young artisans are mentored through the first years of theirtraining, given access to equipment and workspace, and connected with international markets. (original image)

Bush, fully absorbed and seemingly oblivious to the circling photographers, asked interested questions of Hussainy, whose richly patterned blue head scarf contrasted with Bush’s tailored blue-green dress. Hussainy, orphaned when she was young, explained to Bush in accented but excellent English, how she and two other artisans created the work of calligraphy and illumination on display. As wall panels and photographs show, they made from scratch the materials needed to create the final artwork—pigments, pens, paper.

Hussainy and all the craftspeople featured in the exhibition were trained at an extraordinary institution in Kabul called Turquoise Mountain whose mission is to preserve and foster the age-old arts of Afghanistan—the traditional jali style of lattice woodworking, ceramics, rug-making and more. Conceived at the joint request of Britain’s Prince Charles and Hamid Karzai, former president of Afghanistan, its founder is the writer and British politician Rory Stewart, author of the best-selling The Places in Between, the story of his 2002 solo walk across Afghanistan.

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We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope

~ George W. Bush Institute (author) More about this product
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The country and its arts had thrived for thousands of years during the time of the Silk Road trade route, mixing influences from Persia, India and Central Asia into a vibrant aesthetic stew. Since its inception in 2006, Turquoise Mountain, named for a “lost” 12th-century Afghan city, has set about reviving Murad Khani, the traditional Old City of Kabul. Shoshana Stewart, Rory’s wife and the indefatigable CEO of the organization, explains that Murad Khani was in complete ruins.

Turquoise Mountain volunteers and workers had to clear away thousands of tons of debris and waste before starting work in earnest on the district’s historic buildings. To date, 112 of these structures have been rebuilt or restored, and hundreds of Afghan artisans have been trained in the country’s traditional arts, ensuring that the artisans’ precious skills will not be lost to future generations.

Turquoise Mountain’s work has an economic as well as a cultural motivation. Part of the goal is to help get the country back on its financial feet, and the organization is engaged in setting up partnerships with such famous Western commercial names as Bloomingdale’s and the handbag designer Kate Spade.

For Laura Bush, the motivation is to support Afghan women. In a March 7 Washington Post opinion article, timed to coincide with International Women’s Day, Bush spoke out about what Afghan women have faced and how far they have come: “Fifteen years ago, if you were a woman in Afghanistan, you could be beaten for laughing in public or if your shoes made noise. … Fifteen years ago, barely 5,000 girls were enrolled in primary school. Soon that number will exceed 3 million. Thirty-six percent of teachers are women. … In government, women hold 69 seats in parliament. There are four female government ministers and two female provincial governors. Thousands of women have started their own businesses.”

Bush, no stranger to politics, believes that if the United States withdraws completely from Afghanistan, the losers would be Afghan women like Sughra Hussainy, the talented Turquoise Mountain calligrapher who was Bush’s guide through the exhibition.

Tommy Wide, Turquoise Mountain’s energetic and erudite director of exhibitions, was also on hand during Laura Bush’s visit. His goal is to change the way the world sees the country about which he is so passionate. “Everyone thinks it’s just dusty desert,” he says. “That’s what you see on the news. We’re just trying to show another side. We’re not trying to pretend it’s not difficult.”

"Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan" is on view in the Smithsonian's International Gallery at 1100 Jefferson Drive in Washington, D.C. through January 29, 2017.

Woman's shirt

National Museum of the American Indian

Wolves Courting at Full Moon

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Wisconsin Powwow / Naamikaaged: Dancer for the People

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Two-video set shows how powwows incorporate historical traditions and modern innovations. Focuses on the Ojibwe people. Includes historical background, transcription of soundtrack, classroom questions, and suggestions for further reading and listening. Available for purchase.

Wining and Dining in Vienna

Smithsonian Magazine

If any European capital knows how to enjoy the good life, it’s Vienna. Compared to most modern urban centers, the pace of life here is slow. Locals linger over pastry and coffee at cafés. Concerts and classical music abound. And chatting with friends at a wine garden is not a special event but a way of life.

For many Viennese, the living room is down the street at the neighborhood coffeehouse, which offers light lunches, fresh pastries, a wide selection of newspapers, and “take all the time you want” charm (just beware of the famously grumpy waiters). Each coffeehouse comes with its own individual character. Café Sperl dates from 1880, and is still furnished identically to the day it opened—from the coat tree to the chairs. Café Hawelka has a dark, “brooding Trotsky” atmosphere, paintings by struggling artists (who couldn’t pay for coffee), smoked velvet couches, and a phone that rings for regulars. Mrs. Hawelka died a couple of weeks after Pope John Paul II. Locals suspect the pontiff wanted her much-loved “Buchteln“ (marmalade-filled doughnuts) in heaven.

Make it a point to stop by Demel, the ultimate Viennese chocolate shop, filled with Art Nouveau boxes of choco-dreams come true: “Kandierte Veilchen” (candied violet petals), “Katzenzungen” (cats’ tongues), and much more. An impressive cancan of cakes is displayed to tempt you into springing for the 10-euro cake-and-coffee deal (point to the cake you want). You’ll sure to see Sacher torte, the local specialty. Apart from its apricot filling, the recipe seems pretty simple...chocolate on chocolate. You can sit inside the shop, with a view of the cake-making, or outside, with the street action. Fancy shops like this boast on their sign: “K.u.K.” (meaning good enough for the “König und Kaiser”—king and emperor).

For another royally good experience, head to the wine gardens. Clustered around the edge of town, mostly in the legendary Vienna Woods, wine-garden restaurants feature cold-cut buffets paired with fine Austrian wines in an old-village atmosphere with strolling musicians. If you visit in fall, try Sturm, the semi-fermented new wine made from the season’s first grape harvest and only available in autumn. Many locals claim that it takes several years of practice to distinguish between Sturm wine and vinegar. The red version is so hearty and fruity that locals say “Eat up!” when toasting with it.

Of the many wine-garden suburbs, Grinzing is the most famous and lively. To avoid tour groups, try Nussdorf, popular with Viennese. Music-lovers head to Heiligenstadt to visit the Beethovenhaus wine-garden, where the composer lived and began work on his Ninth Symphony.

Within Vienna, you’ll find a colorful pub on nearly every street corner, filled with poetry teachers and their students, couples loving without touching, housewives on their way home from cello lessons, and waiters who enjoy serving hearty, affordable food and drinks.

Vienna claims to be the only city with a cuisine of its own. Vienna soups come with fillings, such as semolina dumpling or pancake slices. Wiener schnitzel is a breaded and fried veal (or pork) cutlet. For hardcore Viennese cuisine, drop by a “Würstelstand.” The local hot-dog stand is a fixture on city squares throughout the old center, serving a variety of hot dogs and pickled side dishes with a warm corner-meeting-place atmosphere. Or eat at Buffet Trzesniewski, famous for finger sandwiches with toppings like chicken liver or herring. The Naschmarkt Old World market has two parallel lanes—one lined with fun eateries, the other featuring high-end produce and gourmet goodies. This is where top chefs like to get their ingredients.

From July through early September, a thriving people scene erupts each evening in the park in front of the City Hall, where free concerts are broadcast on a giant screen. Scores of food stands and picnic tables are set up. There are no plastic cups, just real plates and glasses—Vienna wants the quality of dining experience to be as good as the music that’s about to begin. Thousands of folding chairs face a 60-foot-wide screen up against the building’s Neo-Gothic facade. The program differs every night, ranging from movies of opera to classical concerts. But even if you’re not visiting in summer, you can get your fill of music by seeing the famous Vienna Boys’ Choir, the world-renowned opera, or a hokey Mozart or Strauss concert performed by powdered-wigged musicians.

In this sleepy city, culture is king and locals are experts in the art of good living. Any traveler with an interest in slowing down and experiencing the finer things—a good cup of coffee, fine wine, heavenly music, or a Sacher torte with whipped cream—will feel right at home.

Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. Email him at rick@ricksteves.com, or write to him c/o P.O. Box 2009, Edmonds, WA 98020.

© 2010 Rick Steves

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