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National Museum Of American Art

Ansel Adams, A Legacy: Masterworks from the Friends of Photography Collection
(through March 29)
Images by the renowned American photographer (1902-1984) illustrate his point of view as an artist and as an advocate of national environmental stances. See The Artful Lens of Ansel Adams, February 1998.

Renwick Gallery

Reinstallation of the Permanent Collection
Thematic reinstallation showcases works in a variety of craft media.

National Portrait Gallery

George C. Marshall: Soldier of Peace
(through July 12)
Exhibition of paintings, photographs and memorabilia salutes the life and career of American statesman Gen. George C. Marshall.

Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden

George Segal, A Retrospective: Sculptures, Paintings, Drawings
(February 19-May 17)
Show includes key examples of the famed sculptor's signature white-plaster figurative tableaux. See Art that turns life inside out, January 1998.

National Air And Space Museum

Star Wars: The Magic of Myth
(through November 1)
Exhibition commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Star Wars trilogy features original props, models, costumes and artworks. Free timed same-day tickets are available at the museum's ticket desk. Advance tickets are available through ProTix for a service charge of $2.25 per ticket (call: 1-800-529-2440). For general information, call 202-786-2122 (24-hour recording). See Star Wars on the Mall, November 1997.

National Museum Of American History

America's Clothespins
(February 14-June)
Single-case display includes patent models of the inventive little device.

Science in American Life
Permanent show traces advances and discoveries in science over the past 125 years.

Union Station on Capitol Hill]

Mail to the Chief: The Stamp Designs of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
(January 30- July 12)
Postage stamps designed by avid collector FDR track the events that occupied his attention as President.

National Museum Of Natural History

Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals
New permanent gallery showcases the National Gem Collection and takes visitors from the depths of a copper mine to the far reaches of the Solar System. See Mysterious Pearls, July 1997.

National Zoological Park

Amazonia
Permanent installation recreates a microcosm of the world's largest rain forest and river habitat.

National Museum Of African Art

A Spiral of History: A Carved Tusk from the Loango Coast, Congo
(February 1-April 26)
A 19th-century carved ivory tusk bears scenes depicting historical, ceremonial and anecdotal events.

Freer Gallery Of Art

Japanese Art of the Meiji Era (1868-1912)
(through April 26)
Paintings, drawings, ceramics, lacquer, metalwork and cloisonné from the Meiji era.

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Twelve Centuries of Japanese Art from the Imperial Collections
(through March 8)
Exhibition features art from the Imperial Household Agency and the Emperor of Japan.

Arts And Industries Building

In Search of Balance: The ArtistScholar
(through March 11)
Artworks by five African-American scholars. Discovery Theater Live theater for young audiences. Call 202-357-1500 (voice or TTY) weekdays, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.

The Castle-- Information Center

Smithson's Gift
Permanent display tells the story of the British scientist whose bequest founded the Smithsonian.

International Gallery, S. Dillon Ripley Center

The World of Orchids
(through March 8)
Show sponsored by the Smithsonian's Horticulture Services Division and the U.S. Botanic Garden displays orchids from around the world.

Anacostia Museum

Man Made: African American Men in the Quilting Tradition
(through June 23)
Display of traditional and contemporary quilts by African-American men.

Heye Center, National Museum Of The American Indian
[New York City]

Memory and Imagination: The Legacy of Maidu Indian Artist Frank Day
(February 15-May 3)
Exhibition features paintings by the self-taught 20th-century Native American artist.

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
[New York City]

The Jewels of Lalique
(February 3-April 12)
Art Nouveau jewelry and objets d'art by artist-jeweler René Lalique (1860-1945).

Arquitectonica: The Times Square Project
(February 17-May 10)
Exhibition of the work of the Miami-based architectural firm focuses on their vision for a new multiuse complex in Times Square. See Times Square Reborn, February 1998

Smithsonian Highlights

Smithsonian Magazine

National Museum Of African Art

Olowe of Ise: A Yoruba Sculptor to Kings
(March 15-September 7)
African art masterpieces by the early 20th-century Yoruba carver include the museum's high relief "Palace Door."

Freer Gallery Of Art

The Seven Thrones of Jami: A Princely Manuscript from Iran
(through March 29)
Illustrations from a 16th-century Persian mystical poem by Jami.

In the Mountains
(through August 2)
Exhibition explores the depiction of mountains in Chinese art.

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Sakhi: Friend and Messenger in Rajput Love Paintings
(March 8-July 7)
Paintings created in northern India between the 17th and 19th centuries highlight the role of the sakhi as confidante and messenger in Rajput love paintings.

Poetic Landscapes: Two 17th-Century Chinese Albums
(March 8-July 5)
Display showcases two Ming Dynasty albums: "Eight Views of Xiao-Xiang" and "Landscapes Inspired by Tang Poems" by Liu Yu.

National Air And Space Museum

Star Wars: The Magic of Myth
(through November 1)
Exhibition commemorating the 20th anniverary of the film trilogy features original props, models, costumes and artworks. Free timed same-day tickets are available only at the museum's ticket desk. Advance tickets are available through ProTix for a service charge of $2.25 per ticket (1-800-529-2440). For general information, call 202-786-2122.

Space Race
New permanent display traces the competition in space between the United States and the former Soviet Union.

National Museum Of American History

Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song
(opens March 19)
Exhibition features a sampling of personal artifacts, donated to NMAH last year, that document the famed singer's extraordinary career--costumes, sound recordings, scrapbooks, sheet music, photographs, awards. American Encounters Permanent display focuses on the American Indian, Hispanic and Anglo-American cultures of New Mexico's Upper Rio Grande Valley.

National Postal Museum
[Near Union Station on Capitol Hill]

New Deal Post Office Murals
(March 27-September 8)
Show features 18 mural studies commissioned for U.S. post offices during the 1930s.

National Museum Of Natural History

Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals
New permanent exhibition showcases the National Gem Collection. Exploring Marine Ecosystems Renovated permanent installation explores a tropical coral reef and a temperate rocky shore reef.

National Zoological Park

Amazonia Science Gallery
Permanent exhibition looks at the work of Smithsonian biologists worldwide.

National Museum Of American Art

Posters American Style
(March 27-August 9)
Exhibition presents poster graphics that reflect the concerns, issues, events and cultural aspects of 20th-century American life.

Ansel Adams, A Legacy: Masterworks from the Friends of Photography Collection
(through March 29)
Images by the renowned American photographer.

Time Out! Sports in Art
(through April 5)
Temporary installation celebrates sports as envisioned by a variety of artists.

Renwick Gallery

Inspiring Reform: Boston's Arts and Crafts Movement
(March 6-July 5)
Show examines Boston's contribution to the Arts and Crafts movement.

National Portrait Gallery

George C. Marshall: Soldier of Peace
(through July 12)
Exhibition of paintings, photographs and memorabilia salutes the life of American statesman Gen. George C. Marshall.

Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden

Directions--Kiki Smith: Night
(March 19-June 21)
New works by the American artist explore the enduring yet fragile systems of the natural world.

George Segal, A Retrospective: Sculptures, Paintings, Drawings
(through May 17)
Show includes key examples of the New York-based sculptor's signature white-plaster figurative tableaux.

Arts And Industries Building

In Search of Balance: The ArtistScholar
(through March 11)
Paintings, sculptures and other works by five African-American scholars.

Discovery Theater Live theater for young audiences. Call 202-357-1500 (voice or TTY) weekdays, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

The Castle-- Information Center

Smithson's Gift
Permanent exhibit tells the story of the British scientist whose bequest founded the Smithsonian.

Anacostia Museum

Man Made: African American Men and Quilting Traditions
(through June 28)
Display of traditional and contemporary quilts by African-American men.

Heye Center, National Museum Of The American Indian
[New York City]

Memory and Imagination: The Legacy of Maidu Indian Artist Frank Day
(through May 3)
Paintings by the self-taught 20th-century artist.

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
[New York City]

The Jewels of Lalique
(through April 12)
Art Nouveau jewelry and objets d'art by artist-jeweler René Lalique (1860-1945).

Smithsonian Myths

Smithsonian Magazine

Words/Smithsonian/Smithsonian

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Smithsonian Highlights

Smithsonian Magazine

Destination: Smithsonian

Smithsonian Magazine

Capturing Churchill

If we stare long enough into Winston Churchill's face, the soft, jowly visage of the man who literally saved the Western world from Nazi tyranny, is it possible to see courage and intellect personified?

Since World War II, thousands of artists have thought so, struggling to capture this modern-day hero on film and canvas, in stone and mixed media. From the vaults of the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum, we have assembled a gallery of eight intriguing portraits.

"...There is nothing here but what you see," Churchill once said in his famous iron curtain speech. We will leave it to you to determine whether you can see more than mere features, but rather the resolute embodiment of victory itself.

National Portrait Gallery

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Smithsonian Perspectives

Smithsonian Magazine

Joseph Henry, the first Secretary of the Smithsonian, would be surprised if he were to revisit the Mall today and see the complex of museums representing the institution he had so much to do with establishing. He reluctantly accepted responsibility for the collections assembled under government auspices in various official exploring expeditions, such as that of Comdr. Charles Wilkes to the South Seas. But he feared that "filling a costly building with an indiscriminate collection of objects of curiosity, and giving these in charge to a set of inactive curators," would dull the research edge of an institution founded for the primary purpose of advancing knowledge and, secondarily, of disseminating that newly acquired knowledge.

Henry had successfully resisted efforts to transform the Smithsonian into the national library, turning over the bulk of the Institution's collections to the then small Library of Congress. In the process he had to fire the distinguished librarian Charles Coffin Jewett and then weather a tough Congressional investigation before he made the decision stick. Henry believed that a great nation should have a great national library, but he believed that it should not be at the expense of an institution, unique in its day, dedicated to the advancement of knowledge.

Joseph Henry had no animus against the collection of objects, so long as it contributed toward meeting that goal. The first publication of the Smithsonian Institution was a study of the archaeological remains of an early Indian civilization in the Ohio Valley, which Henry personally purged of its speculative aspects, insisting that its authors limit themselves to verifiable, incontrovertible facts. To that end the Smithsonian sponsored expeditions to Alaska (then in Russian hands) and to the Western territories of the United States in the tradition of Thomas Jefferson's sponsorship of the Lewis and Clark expedition earlier in the century. The investigators were to collect data on native inhabitants, geography, geology, flora and fauna, and the like, so that a better understanding of these regions could be achieved. This often meant collecting objects to be analyzed later at the Institution and disseminating the data in Smithsonian publications. Yet Henry continued to worry that the accumulation of materials collected by Smithsonian researchers would require increased space, time and money to preserve. So he urged a process of distributing objects, once they had served their primary purpose, to smaller museums and historical societies for educational and documentational purposes.

Fortunately, in my view, Henry was not able to limit the growth of Smithsonian museums as he had the earlier library. Having accepted an appropriation from the federal government to take charge of the museum of the United States in 1857, he was in less of a position to halt the process when collections began to pour in during the latter half of the century. He was in an even weaker position when the Smithsonian received objects donated by foreign and domestic exhibitors following the centennial celebration of 1876, in Philadelphia. The objects, he noted, amounted "in bulk [to] four times the space of the present Smithsonian edifice" and created "a crisis in the history of the Smithsonian." Henry never was able to resolve the dilemma. He died in 1878 and was succeeded as Secretary by his "assistant in the department of natural history," Spencer Fullerton Baird.

Baird, the quintessential museum man, was a distinguished scholar in natural history, and his publications list of what were mostly taxonomic studies fills an entire volume. He had been in charge of the U.S. Government's participation in the centennial celebration and welcomed the accession of objects to the Smithsonian's collections after the exhibition's close. He then persuaded Congress to fund a second Smithsonian building, the old National Museum (now the Arts and Industries Building), to house them. Joseph Henry's death and Spencer Baird's succession to the secretaryship marked the end of all restraints on the development of the collections and the accompanying museums to house them.

Since that time, dynamic tension between the research, collecting and educational activities of the Smithsonian has been a continuing theme within the Institution, as successive Secretaries have promoted now one, and now the other. These activities, rightly balanced, can legitimately express the ideal of the founder of the Institution, but improperly pursued, they can result in conflict and carry the Institution away from its mandate to increase knowledge.

My own feeling, coming from a great research and teaching institution - the University of California - that did not exist when the Smithsonian was founded, is that the advancement of knowledge is a sacred trust to which we continue to be obligated. The fulfillment of this responsibility through properly directed collecting, research and educational activities seems to me to be in keeping with Joseph Henry's vision for the Smithsonian, as well as James Smithson's. It is a responsibility that I take seriously and hope to carry out in my own administration of the Institution in the coming years.

Smithsonian Perspectives

Smithsonian Magazine

The Regents recently adopted guidelines enlarging the role of commissions and boards associated with many of the Smithsonian Institution's museums and directed the other museums and research institutes to establish such boards. I write about this seemingly dry subject because the action is an important part of restructuring the governance of the Institution.

While the Smithsonian was created by Congress and receives a good portion of its support from federal appropriations, it is not an executive agency. Rather the legal responsibility for its governance is in a Board of Regents and the Secretary the Board appoints, who serves at the pleasure of the Board. The structure resembles that of a state university. Congress is very influential largely through the money it appropriates. On the other hand, the Institution historically has enjoyed considerable autonomy from detailed directions of Congress or the executive branch.

When the Institution was smaller, its various parts could be directed in some detail by the Secretary and his staff. In 1958-59, for instance (when I was last in Washington), the Smithsonian consisted mainly of the Arts and Industries Building, the Castle, the Freer, the Natural History Museum, and the National Zoo. There were other units, such as the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the National Collection of Fine Arts (which later became the National Museum of American Art), but they were much smaller than at present.

In the ensuing years, the Smithsonian grew mightily, adding the National Museum of American History, the National Design Museum (the Cooper-Hewitt), the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of African Art, as well as the National Portrait Gallery, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, the Conservation & Research Center of the Zoo, the National Postal Museum, the Renwick Gallery of Art, the Anacostia Museum and the newly created National Museum of the American Indian. Moreover, the major research institutes in tropical biology and astrophysics and astronomy grew substantially.

Extraordinary expansion leads to the need to change structures of governance. On paper, the Smithsonian's structure looks much as it did in times past. In reality, however, much has changed. The Secretary no longer manages detail. I find myself representing the Institution to the external world (including Congress), working with the Regents and the Smithsonian National Board, reviewing, and sometimes formulating, general policies to guide the museums and institutes (for instance, the newly distributed "exhibition guidelines"), continually learning about what we do and actually have done, participating in budget allocations to the units seeking to assure high quality throughout the Institution, and, most important, choosing the directors of the museums and institutes. My two principal associates — the Under Secretary and the Provost — are more hands-on, but we all are trying to assure greater operational discretion, consistent with policy guidelines, in the directors of the museums and the institutes.

Evolution toward decentralization is not easy. A single Board of Regents is ultimately responsible for the Institution, and wants assurance that the Institution's parts are functioning effectively and properly. The outside world looks at the Institution as a single entity and views the Secretary as the responsible officer. Sometimes this requires Secretarial action — as with the Enola Gay exhibit — that is extraordinary and is viewed by some as improper intervention. Moreover, a number of operations continue to be run by the central administration, from business activities to educational programs for elementary and secondary schools, which overlap with similar activities within museums and institutes. Finally, the fiduciary obligations of the Regents and the Secretary require oversight to assure that money is being spent legally, and that federal rules are being followed (for example, in procurement and personnel practices). We are striving for systems that audit actions of museums and institutes rather than manage the processes themselves, but the transitions are difficult.

The benefits of judicious decentralization are numerous. Among others, vitality is stimulated, innovation finds fewer obstacles, planning is more realistic, decisions can be made and implemented more rapidly, and the ability to make trade-offs in the use of funds can be enhanced. These are all very important in a heterogeneous institution like the Smithsonian.

The enlargement of the roles for museum and institute boards is part of the process. As the museums and institutes become more autonomous, boards will provide directors with advice on many subjects. In the case of museums, especially, they will provide the advice of experts in a variety of areas, such as management and strategic planning, and will be a useful vehicle in bringing public perspectives directly to the attention of directors and staff. Boards will normally champion their museums in requests for support and can be counted on to help raise the private support that is crucial to the sustenance of excellence at the Smithsonian.

Reorganizations in complex institutions take time to work themselves out and bear fruit. The process is well started at the Smithsonian, and present leadership will continue to work hard toward its accomplishment.

Smithsonian Perspectives

Smithsonian Magazine

In this year of our 150th-birthday celebration, I thought it would be enlightening for both me and my readers to visit chapters in the Institution's history that are meaningful to today's opportunities and problems. I plan to do this for 12 months unless a contemporary topic is so relevant as to justify a departure. Here is the first installment.

Although we will be celebrating this year the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Smithsonian and its Board of Regents by Congress in August 1846, it is interesting to remember how the story of the Smithsonian in the United States began more than a decade earlier. In July 1835 President Andrew Jackson was no doubt surprised to receive from the Secretary of State a copy of a letter from a firm of solicitors in London. It stated that James Smithson, who had died in 1829, had bequeathed (subject to a condition now fulfilled) his entire fortune of 100,000 pounds sterling to the United States as trustee to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an "Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men."

By December, the President had decided to send the correspondence to Congress, stating that the Executive had "no authority to take any steps for accepting the trust and obtaining the funds." In January 1836 bills were introduced in both Houses to accept the bequest and provide $10,000 from public funds to defray the expenses of an agent to represent the United States in the Court of Chancery in London. In the Senate debate, one member opposed the bill, stating that he would "not have Congress pander to the paltry vanity of an individual," and that "it was not consistent with the dignity of the Country to accept even the grant of a man of noble birth or lineage" — but the measure passed 31 to 7.

In the House Select Committee report on the bill, the chairman, John Quincy Adams (the former President who was then a Representative from Massachusetts), wrote: "To furnish the means of acquiring knowledge is the greatest benefit that can be conferred upon mankind. It prolongs life itself, and enlarges the sphere of existence." And he predicted, "it is no extravagance of anticipation to declare that [Smithson's] name will be hereafter enrolled among the eminent benefactors of mankind." He added to the Senate bill a paragraph that pledged "the faith of the United States" to the execution of Smithson's trust "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge." The legislation was thus enacted and signed by the President on July 1, 1836.

This unique combination of a privately endowed institution and the continuing support of the Government of the United States as trustee, in generous fulfillment of its pledge of faith, has made possible the remarkable achievements of the Institution. It has engendered contributions from private donors that were inconceivable in 1836. The great national collections now available to the public consist largely of private gifts; and continuing donations from private citizens to the Smithsonian's trust funds have maintained the Institution's central resources for independent initiatives. Congress, on its part, has responded with the very substantial federal support that has been essential to the growth of the Institution and to many of its far-reaching services to the public for nearly a century and a half.

The peculiar nature of the Smithsonian, arising from its origin in a private bequest to the United States, as trustee, has been a mystery to many, and doubting voices have occasionally been raised questioning its unique status among federal establishments. But throughout its 150 years there has been a broad consensus in Congress that has respected both the letter and the spirit of James Smithson's bequest and has maintained the integrity and independence of the Institution's trust purposes for the benefit of all mankind. In the course of its development, which has paralleled the growth of the nation, the Institution has achieved a great many things that even John Quincy Adams could only have guessed at.

Smithsonian Highlights

Smithsonian Magazine

Art Night on the Mall

Enjoy special extended summer hours at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, the Museum of African Art, and the Freer and Sackler galleries, Thursday evenings until 8 P.M. through September 3. The Ripley Center's International Gallery and the Hirshhorn's Full Circle Café will also remain open.

Special June Exhibitions, Events

 Freer Gallery Of Art

Japanese Art in the Age of Koetsu
(June 6-January 3, 1999)
Exhibition highlights the cultural renaissance of early 17th-century Kyoto--paintings, calligraphy, ceramics.

Charles Lang Freer and Egypt
(opens June 13)
Display features works from Freer's collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts.

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Sakhi: Friend and Messenger in Rajput Love Paintings
(through July 7)
Paintings illuminate the role of the "sakhi" in Indian Rajput love paintings.

National Museum Of African Art

Olowe of Ise: A Yoruba Sculptor to Kings
(through September 7)
African art masterpieces by the early 20th-century Yoruba carver.

Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden

Triumph of the Spirit: Carlos Alfonzo, A Survey (1975-1991)
(June 18-September 13)
Retrospective of the work of the Cuban-American artist traces his varied and complex painting style.

The Collection in Context: Henry Moore's Stringed Figure No. 1
(June 4-October 25)
One-gallery installation features the British artist's 1937 sculpture.

International Gallery, S. Dillon Ripley Center

The Jewels of Lalique
(through August 16)
Considered the greatest artist-jeweler since the Renaissance, René Lalique (1860-1945) designed the first "modern" jewelry. See Lalique, June 1998.

National Air And Space Museum

Business Wings
(opens June 12)
Exhibition examines the history of business aviation, from biplanes to Lear jets.

Star Wars: The Magic of Myth
(through November 1)
Original props, models, costumes and artworks from the Star Wars trilogy. Free timed same-day passes are available at the museum's ticket desk, on a first-come basis. Advance passes are available through ProTix for a service charge of $2.25 per ticket (1-800-529-2440). For information, call 202-786-2122.

National Museum Of Natural History

Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals
New permanent gallery showcases the National Gem Collection and takes visitors from the depths of a copper mine to the far reaches of the Solar System.

National Zoological Park

Amazonia
Permanent installation re-creates a microcosm of the world's largest rain forest and river habitat.

National Museum Of American History

First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image
Permanent exhibition explores the evolving roles of our nation's First Ladies.

National Postal Museum
[Near Union Station on Capitol Hill]

What's in the Mail for You!
Permanent hands-on display offers an innovative look at the direct mail industry.

Arts And Industries Building

Speak to My Heart: African American Communities of Faith and Contemporary Society
(runs indefinitely)
Exhibition presented by the Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture focuses on the role of the black church in contemporary life.

National Museum Of American Art

Posters American Style
(through August 9)
Exhibition features American poster graphics from circa 1895 to 1995.

National Portrait Gallery

Faces of Time: 75 Years of Portraits for Time Magazine
(through August 2)
Show presents cover portraits commissioned by Time magazine from notable artists.

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
[New York City]

Fountains: Splash and Spectacle
(June 9- October 11)
Display examines the function and design of fountains.

Under the Sun: An Outdoor Exhibition of Light
(June 21-October 25)
The power of the sun as a catalyst for design.

Destination: Smithsonian

Smithsonian Magazine

The Postal Museum

Did you know camels were used in the 1850s to deliver mail in the American Southwest?
We know that camels were used as beasts of burden in Australia, and even in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. However, as shown in this drawing, camels also were members of the U.S. Army's Camel Corps in the 1850s. Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce, started the program, using camels to deliver mail, along with supplies, in the American Southwest. The carrier service was short lived though; the camels were too cantankerous, and the rocky terrain injured their feet. Relieved of their duties, the surviving postal worker camels were soon sent to zoos. Reindeer were used to deliver mail in the North, with slightly better results.

National Museum of African Art

Ever seen how the Tuareg people of Eastern Africa saddled up their camels?
This particular camel saddle, made of wood, leather and metal, was used recently in the late 20th century, by the Tuareg of Niger. The word for saddle is térik, and these saddles are placed in front of the camel's hump on two to four saddlecloths, while the rider sits cross-legged with his feet on the camel's neck. This saddle, with its forked saddle horn and detailed leather decorations, is called a tamzak saddle. Most are made in Agadez, Niger, by blacksmiths. Wood is lashed together with rawhide and covered with colored leather and metal ornaments.

This modern light-colored camel bell is most likely from Somalia. It is made of wood and plant fiber and is a gift of Mrs. Duncan Emerick.

The darker bell, also made of wood and fiber, came from Ethiopia. Large wooden camel bells in the museum's collections are attributed to pastoralists in Somalia, Ethiopia and northern Kenya. Not just an economic necessity to these peoples, the camel is also a symbol of a nomadic way of life. In Somalia especially, camels—kept as milk animals or as beasts of burden#151;are the subject of extensive poetry. Although the bells' lack of embellishment suggests a practical purpose, the bells also seem to hold a sentimental value. One anonymous poem uses the phrase "...Like a she-male with a large bell."

Smithsonian Institution Libraries

Conrad Gessner's Historia Animalium from the 15th century tempered the often mythical and inaccurate statements about the Asian beasts and illustrated a bactrian rather accurately.
In the 15th century, an artist named Erhard Reuwich accompanied author Bernhard von Breydenbach on a journey from Germany to Jerusalem so that he could illustrate Breydenbach's book, Peregrinatio in Terram Sactam. Most of Reuwich's illustrations are panoramas of the cities they passed through, but there is also this almost whimsical hand-colored woodcut that features the exotic animals they encountered at their destination, such as crocodiles, giraffes, salamanders and a camel. A unicorn is included as well, and according to the plate's caption, "These animals are accurately drawn as we saw them in the holy land." Whether Reuwich actually saw a unicorn is questionable, as you can imagine. But it is likely that he did see the camel that is drawn most realistically here, equipped with saddle and bridle.

Pictured here is a woodcut of an Asian, or Bactrian, camel that was included in Conrad Gessner's Historia Animaliam, which he compiled in the mid-16th century. Gessner gathered information from a variety of sources: ancient and medieval books, folklore, and the often mythical and inaccurate reports of travelers, which Gessner tempered with his own direct observations whenever possible. In his book, Gessner also included a woodcut of the single-humped arabian, or dromedary, camel.

Le Dromadaire is a beautifully engraved illustration of a single-humped Arabian camel found in a book about the french royal (later national) natural-history collection, Histoire Naturelle, Générale et Particulière, put together by George Louis Leclerc, the count of Buffon, in the latter half of the 1700s. Buffon served as the head of the collections, and his book included hundreds of such engravings.

Le Chameau portrays the double-humped Bactrian camel. Although Buffon's text notes that the Bactrian camel is native to Turkey and what is now Uzbekistan, the artist has placed it in Egypt. It is shown with one of its humps temporarily depleted and drooping, an indication that the camel's reserves are used up.

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Artists like Louis Comfort Tiffany and Elijah Pierce included the camel in their painted works.
Here, camels carry the three wise men to the baby Jesus in this wood carving by self-taught artist Elijah Pierce (1892-1984). Pierce's imaginative use of oils, paper and glitter on carved wood expresses clearly the long shadows of night, the men's exhaustion from the long and tiring journey, and the dazzling light of the distant star. Pierce, a Southern African-American artist and preacher, is best known for his carved wooden panels inspired by Bible stories and fables.

Camels, loaded down with people and possessions, sit and stand placidly among the dusty crowds of a Tangier marketplace in an 1873 painting by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933). No different from any other curious bohemian of his day, Tiffany traveled widely to exotic places and was greatly attracted to the colors and customs of the Orient, especially Morocco. The painting's lush details foreshadow the young artist's future fame for his opulent interiors, Art-Nouveau glass pieces and decorative objects.

National Museum of American History

Where else would you climb aboard a camel in the United States—but on a children's carousel ride?
Children have been climbing aboard delightful carousel animals since carousels, or merry-go-rounds, were first made in America in the late 1860s. Hand-carved from basswood in the 1880s by leading carousel maker Charles Dare in his New York Carousel Manufacturing Company, this camel is an "outside stander," unlike the jumping animals in the inner rings that move up and down. The camel's modest lines and simple detail are an excellent example of Dare's popular Country Fair style.

Camels are one of the most desired figures collected by carousel enthusiasts, along with pigs, lions and dogs.

The camel is part of the large collection of carousel animals, shop figures and weather vanes in the Eleanor and Mable Van Alstyne Collection of American Folk Art in the Division of Cultural History at NMAH, and was acquired in the 1960s.

National Air and Space Museum

Ever wonder how the Sopwith Camel got its name?
One of the most successful planes used by the British in World War I, the low-flying Camel got its name from the famous hump on its fuselage, which contributed to its round-shouldered appearance, accentuated by the fairing ahead of the plane's cockpit. However, it was so difficult to fly, that more men lost their lives learning how to fly it than in actual aerial combat. Rolled out in 1916 by the Sopwith Company, the Camel was the first British aeromachine of its class to have two Vickers guns attached as standard flight equipment.

Smithsonian National Zoo

Come visit Sake and Camille, a pair of camels who've been delighting zoogoers for years. Meet Brenda Morgan, their keeper.
I'll never forget the first time I ever laid eyes on Bactrian camels. The animals were exotic and immense, dark brown and shaggy, and loaded with an absurd amount of baggage. It was 1971, and I was with my father who was on a Peace Corps assignment in Afghanistan. There, in that austere landscape with the mountains of the Hindu Kush in the distance, these towering two-humped creatures were serving their keepers as they had since before the time of Marco Polo.

I didn't know then that I would one day count among my closest friends a pair of Bactrians, named Sake, a male, and Camille, a female. Both are 14 years old and were born at North American zoos. I have worked with Sake and Camille for about ten years, and during that time I have come to know them and they to know me. The camels can pick me, and a few of their other keepers, out of a crowd of hundreds of Sunday afternoon visitors. My fellow keeper, Ann Armstrong, taught Sake to come up to the fence and open his mouth so that we could show visitors his teeth. Camels have canines, which you would not expect in an herbivore. They are ruminants and will chew their cud like a cow. They produce copious amounts of saliva, but I have only once heard of our animals spitting on a person. It was a veterinarian whom Sake was not fond of having around, and he let him know about it.

For some reason Sake has this thing for pigeons. He doesn't hurt them, but when he has the chance, he gently corrals a pigeon in his stall, holds it down with his lips and then gives it a big sloppy lick, coating the poor bird with a load of sticky camel saliva. I like pigeons, so I rescue the slimy birds, too gooey to fly. I wash them in the sink, put them in a box to dry, then turn them loose. As far as I can tell this is just something weird Sake likes to do.

We camel keepers avoid going into the enclosure with the animals. Perhaps it is the way she was managed as a youngster, but Camille chases people from her enclosure, and trust me, it's best to avoid a chance encounter with 1,800 pounds of determined camel. Several years ago we had a tremendous ice storm that caused problems all around the region. More than an inch of glossy ice blanketed the entire Zoo. Cold weather is no problem for fur-insulated camels, but the slippery footing was another matter. Camille had gotten stuck at the bottom of the hill in the camel yard. Sake had managed to get up the ice-covered slope by turning and walking up back-end-first, a neat trick. But Camille would slip and fall whenever she tried to negotiate the slope. We were terrified that Camille would injure herself.

Desperate for some way to help Camille, I found an old pair of cleated golf shoes in a locker. With these spikes I slowly worked my way down the ice-covered hill, all the while feeling a bit apprehensive of what the territorial female camel might try to do. While keeping a watchful eye on the nervous Camille, I was able to surround her with hay that she could eat and use for bedding. The hay seemed to settle her down. As darkness approached, I looked around for something to lay down to improve traction on the ice. My eyes fell on a 40-gallon garbage can of camel dung. As a keeper I never thought I'd see the day when I would shovel manure back into an exhibit, but I did. The following morning Camille was able to get back up the hill and into the stalls, where she and Sake stayed until the ice melted.

To say Sake loves to eat would be an understatement. One look at that rotund belly of his rubbing both sides of a 40-inch doorway is proof this animal is motivated by food. When the commissary delivers bales of hay to the back gate of the exhibit, I move them by wheelbarrow to storage inside the camel barn. Sake's favorite is alfalfa hay, grown at the Zoo's Conservation Center near Front Royal, Virginia; and if a passing wheelbarrow stacked with alfalfa hay happens to catch Sake's attention, he'll snatch the 60-pound bale in his teeth as effortlessly as picking up a grape. In addition to the alfalfa, we feed grass hay, a pellet mix of grains, roughage and supplements; we give them tree limb browse, carrots and apples too. Sake eats lots of alfalfa, so he gets fewer pellets than Camille does, but Camille is reluctant to eat apples. I think it's because we used to hide wormer in apples, and she quickly figured out that we were messing with her food. Both animals love to eat fallen tree leaves, even dried brown ones. They relish these crunchy leaves like they were potato chips, and it certainly makes for less leaf raking inside the exhibit.

Our camels are oblivious to Washington's weather. They sleep outside on the coldest nights, and their remarkable coats insulate them from winter's chill. When I arrive on winter mornings, I sometimes find the pair asleep in their outdoor yard, having spent the night under the stars—the tops of their humps and the hair on the tops of their heads white with frost. They are so well insulated that the snow or ice will not melt on their backs. When they shed their coats in the spring, the tangled hair falls off in mats. Visitors have seen this tangled pile of hair on the ground in the camel yard and then chased down a keeper to report a dead animal in the exhibit. When you handle this soft hair, you have an immediate sensation of warmth. Its superb insulating ability prevents the loss of heat from your hands, and its effectiveness is instantly apparent.

After the camels shed in preparation for summer, tiny flies can drive a ton of camel indoors—even on a beautiful sunny day. When the flies are bad, the camels like to spend their time inside their darkened stalls, where fewer of the biting insects will pursue them. Of the two, Camille seems to be more susceptible to flies, which will often bite her forelegs until she bleeds. We use a citronella spray as a repellent. When these flies are feeding, I can sympathize with Camille, since they'll also bite a keeper in short pants. This past summer, late in the season, we experimented with releasing ant-size wasps that parasitize fly eggs. With the help of these wasps, both Camille and I had fewer fly bites on our legs, and next year we hope to get an early start with this biological method of fly control.

We will likely never have reproduction in our pair of camels. Camille has some medical problems that make breeding her unadvisable. She favors one leg, and as she has gotten older she has become a bit unsteady. Sake has always gotten around a little better. Perhaps nothing is more unusual to see, though, than a male camel in rut. Sake comes into rut in midwinter, and it's easy to tell by the odor. I don't know if the urine becomes stronger smelling or if there is simply more of it to smell. When in rut, Sake squats slightly, holding his moplike tail between his legs urinating on it until it is saturated. Next, he whips his tail up over his haunches, slapping it on his back with a smack, and droplets of pungent urine fly in all directions. His long hair gets soaked, and he seems to be acting supremely self-assured, looking down on the people and camels around him like a crown prince walking into a palace ball. He's back to his typical chowhound self in about five weeks.

Camels are usually the C word found in many children's alphabet picture books, and there have been times at the Zoo when I've seen a 2-year-old excitedly point out and identify a camel for a parent laboring behind a stroller. I like to tell the kids that you can remember that a Bactrian camel has two rounded humps just like the letter B, for Bactrian. And the dromedary camel has one rounded hump, like the letter D, for dromedary.

To make way for the American Prairie exhibit, Sake and Camille were moved to a nice paddock near the Small Mammal House. Their care was shifted to the keepers at the Lion House, and sadly I and my fellow primate and panda keepers no longer have the pleasure of working with the camels. But they still pick me out of the crowd and watch my every move.

There's an artificial mountain at the back of the new camel yard. It in no way compares to the grandeur of the Hindu Kush. But, when I stand along the railing with a crowd of zoogoers, and Sake and Camille come and find me in the crowd, I feel like I share in a long history of generations of camel keepers like those I saw in Afghanistan.

Smithsonian National Zoo

It was around 2500 b.c. that people began to use camels as beasts of burden. Meet Melinda Zeder and learn more.
Pioneer settlers in Australia were not the first to use camels to cross vast wastelands. In fact, more than 4,000 years ago, people in two different parts of the Middle East began a partnership with these desert-adapted animals that reshaped the course of human history.

Around 2500 B.C., in the far eastern reaches of present-day Iran, people began using the two-humped Bactrian camel as a beast of burden to carry both themselves and their goods. At about the same time, tribal peoples of the Arabian Peninsula, who had hunted the native one-humped dromedaries for thousands of years, began to use these animals in similar ways. It is probably no coincidence that when archaeologists found evidence for camel domestication in these two distant places, they also found evidence of a flourishing trade network that linked the Indus Valley civilization with Mesopotamian city-states clustered along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers of today's Iraq.

Some of the trade between these two powerful civilizations took a seaward route across the Indian Ocean. However, there were still large stretches of arid land that separated these two centers from Indian Ocean ports. There was also an overland route that linked these people, but it crossed the formidable salt deserts of the high Iranian plateau.

And this is where the camels came in. Camels are able to convert thorny desert shrubs and salty plants into highly nutritious food. They need little water for themselves, and they can carry large loads of people, goods and extra water. These abilities opened up barren lands that had once served as barriers to travel. Nomadic tribes that had previously eked out a modest living in these harsh areas now became major forces in both commerce and warfare throughout the Middle East.

Indeed, the rapid spread of Islam out of the Arabian Peninsula and across the large swath of territory from North Africa to Indonesia can be attributed at least in part to the use of these surefooted desert animals by early adherents of the teachings of Muhammad.

Smithsonian Highlights

Smithsonian Magazine

Art Night on the Mall

Enjoy extended summer hours and special films, lectures and gallery tours at the National Museum of African Art, the Freer and Arthur M. Sackler galleries, and the Hirshhorn Museum, Thursday evenings until 8 P.M. through September 3. The Ripley Center's International Gallery, the Hirshhorn's Full Circle Café and the museum shops will also be open.

Special August Exhibitions, Events

National Museum Of African Art

African Design and the Furniture of Pierre Legrain
(August 16 through November 29)
Explores the influence of African chairs and stools on the work of French Art Deco designer Pierre Legrain.

Olowe of Ise: A Yoruba Sculptor to Kings
(through September 7)
Presents 35 major carvings.

Images of Power and Identity
More than 100 works from the collection.

The Art of the Personal Object
Features utilitarian objects from Africa and celebrates their aesthetic values.

The Ancient West African City of Benin, A.D. 1300-1897
Features the museum's collection from the royal court of the capital of the kingdom of Benin as it existed before British colonial rule.

The Ancient Nubian City of Kerma, 2500-1500 B.C.
Features 40 works - from the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - that celebrate Kerma, the capital of the kingdom known to the Egyptians as Kush.

Sokari Douglas Camp: Three Sculptures
Sculptures by the Nigerian artist Sokari Douglas Camp (b. 1958) are featured in the museum's pavilion. Two sculptures are kinetic and are timed to perform at 15 and 45 minutes past the hour during museum hours.

National Portrait Gallery

Recent Acquisitions
(August 8 through January 24)
Paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs by such artists as Henry Inman, Elaine de Kooning and Jamie Wyeth, a self-portrait by Jacob Lawrence and two photographs of Marilyn Monroe by David Geary, taken when the star visited Korea in 1954.

Celebrity Caricature in America
(through August 23)
More than 200 caricatures of the stars of stage and screen, sports heroes and colorful personalities, both famous and infamous, who fascinated America between the world wars.

[Capitol Hill]

The Artful Mailbox
(through May 1999)
A whimsical, handcrafted mailbox.

Artistic License: The Duck Stamp Story
Fifty new objects.

What's in the Mail for You!
Innovative, hands-on exhibition about the direct mail industry.

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
[New York City]

Fountains: Splash and Spectacle
(through October 11)
Inventive designs dating from the Renaissance to the present. See Smithsonian, June 1998.

Under the Sun: An Outdoor Exhibition of Light
(through October 25)
The power of the sun as a catalyst for design, featuring solar and solar-electric products, prototypes, commissioned designs - from sundials to solar collectors and more. See http://www.si.edu/ndm.

National Museum Of American Art

David Hockney's Grand Canyon
(through September 7)
Panoramic oil painting, 24 feet wide, made up of 60 individual canvases, along with six related works.

Stuart Davis
(through September 7)
Fifty-six paintings by one of America's finest modernists.

Freer Gallery Of Art

Japanese Art in the Age of Koetsu
(through February 5, 1999)
Cultural renaissance of early 17th-century Kyoto.

Charles Lang Freer and Egypt
Freer's collection of Egyptian artifacts.

Masterworks of Indian Painting II
(through January 10, 1999)
From the Mughal dynasty and the Rajput courts.

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Ikat: Splendid Silks from Central Asia
(through September 7)

The Buddha's Art of Healing
(August 2 through January 3, 1999)
Fourteen paintings from an illustrated medical treatise that is considered to be one of the greatest surviving treasures of Tibetan civilization.

Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden

Triumph of the Spirit: Carlos Alfonzo, A Survey (1975-1991)
(through September 13)
Paintings, works on paper.

The Collection in Context: Henry Moore's Stringed Figure No. 1
(through September 7)
The sculptor's 1937 work in cherry wood and string.

Directions - Tony Oursler: Video Dolls with Tracy Leipold
(through September 7)
Video-animated sculptures.

National Air And Space Museum

Business Wings
(through May 31, 1999)
The history of business aviation -- from biplanes to "bizjets."

Star Wars: The Magic of Myth
(through January 31, 1999)
For information on limited free same-day passes, call 202-786-2122. Advance tickets can be purchased through ProTix (800-529-2440).

National Museum Of American History

A Collector's Vision of Puerto Rico
(through January 1999)
Items from Teodoro Vidal's 3,200-object collection.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A History of American Sweatshops, 1820-Present
(through October 30)

American Encounters
Cultures of New Mexico's Upper Rio Grande Valley

Information Age: People, Information and Technology
A 150-year history.

National Museum Of Natural History

Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals
Spectacular new permanent gallery showcases the National Gem Collection and takes visitors from the depths of a copper mine to the far reaches of the Solar System.

Natural Selections: Museum Photography by Chip Clark
(through September 7)
On exhibit are 33 large-scale prints, selected from the photographer's 25-year career at the National Museum of Natural History.

Exploring Marine Ecosystems
Tropical coral reef and temperate rocky shore reef.

In Search of Giant Squid
The world's largest invertebrates.

National Zoological Park

The Birds of Paradise Lost
The distinctive birdlife of the Hawaiian Islands.

Amazonia
The world's largest rain forest and river habitat.

Pollinarium
Means of reproduction - living plants, hummingbirds, butterflies and a colony of bees.

Think Tank
The biology and evolution of animal thinking with a focus on orangutans.

Arts And Industries Building

Speak to My Heart: African American Communities of Faith and Contemporary Society
The role of the black church.

Resonant Forms: Contemporary Women Sculptors and Three Generations of African American Women Sculptors
(through September 30)

Discovery Theater
Live theater for young audiences. For information, call 202-357-1500 (voice or TTY) weekdays, 8 A.M. - 4 P.M.

Anacostia Museum

Man Made: African American Men and Quilting Traditions
(through August 31)

Muhammad Ali: A Thirty Year Journey
(through August 31)
Photographs.

The Smithsonian Associates

A Joyride with American Names
(co-sponsored with Merriam Webster)
August 11, 6 P.M.

Firepower! Jose Greco II Flamenco Dance Company
August 19, 7:30 P.M.

For tickets, call 202-357-3030. For information on other Associates programs, visit http://www.si.edu/tsa.

Exhibition Catalogues

Catalogues currently available include:

Posters American Style ($35 cloth, $29.95 paper)
The Jewels of Lalique ($50 cloth, $37.50 paper)
Celebrity Caricature in America ($45 cloth)
Three Generations of African American Women Sculptors ($24.95 paper)
Indian Humor ($20 paper)
Stuart Davis ($35 paper)
Faces of Time: 75 Years of Time Magazine Cover Portraits ($40 cloth)

To order, send check or money order to Smithsonian Museum Shops, 8308 Cinder Bed Road, Lorton, Virginia 22079. Include 15 percent of purchase for shipping (minimum $4.50).

Smithsonian Productions

Visit the Smithsonian Productions Website for information about their radio programs and video products: Lena Horne and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, which performs music of the 1920s through the 1960s. Check public radio listings in your area.

Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service

SITES organizes and circulates exhibitions to cities throughout the United States and abroad. To sponsor a show in your community, write to: SITES, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560. A listing of current exhibitions and additional information is available at http://www.si.edu/sites.

Skating Smithsonian

Smithsonian Institution Archives

This year, the United States team is sending 230 athletes to Sochi, Russia, the most any nation has ever sent to a winter Olympics. Some of the most promising American athletes are the ice dancing team of Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Though traditionally the other divisions of skating are more talked about in the United States, it seems that the Smithsonian has a strong history in the sport. 

Christine Smith and Gary Sturm Ice Dancing, 1981, by Dane Penland, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Neg. No. 80-19963-36.

In the early eighties the Smithsonian had several skate “clubs.” One of the clubs was a competitive group who practiced two to three times a week throughout the year. The group included Lydia Paley, a museum technician in the National Museum of Natural History’s (NMNH) Discovery Room; Bette Walker, a secretary at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; Martha Goodway, a metallurgist for the Conservation Analytical Lab (now Museum Conservation Institute); Christine Smith, a paper conservator at the National Portrait Gallery; and Gary Sturm, a specialist in the National Museum of American History’s Division of Musical Instruments. For the club, winter practices got much easier when they met at the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden outdoor rink where the skaters would learn the twenty defined ice dancing routines required by the United States Figure Skating Association. For this group, practice made perfect, and Smith and Strum were awarded the Walter C. Sheen and Sidney Asher trophies Ice Club of Washington for Male and Female Skaters of 1980 for their ice dancing achievements throughout the year.

The Club Out on the Ice, 1981, by Dane Penland, Smithsonian Inistitution Archives, Neg. No. 80-19963-17.

While some Smithsonian skaters competed, others simply used the activity to clear their mind during the work day. Almost every day during the winter of 1980 a crowd of Smithsonian staff glided over to the rink on the National Mall to take a break and skate up a sweat. One pair, Phyllis Spangler, a Museum Technician for the Medical Entomology Project of the NMNH’s Department of Entomology, and her husband Paul Spangler, an Associate Curator in the NMNH’s Department of Entomology, put their work on ice, and strapped on their skates to perfect a pair’s routine.

Phyllis and Paul Spangler Skate on the National Mall, 1980, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 371, Box 3, Folder: January 1980, Neg. No. 80-2050-15.

The frigid temperatures this year ensure that you’ll have good ice conditions, if you want to take up a new activity, and the National Gallery ice skating rink could not be more convenient. So whether you are a competitor, amateur, or just someone who wants to get into the Olympic spirit, check out the history of the featured sports and you might be surprised how popular they are!

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Smithsonian Announces Director for Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and Smithsonian Affiliations

Smithsonian Affiliates

Today we are pleased to announce an important step in strengthening our content and peer-outreach capabilities. As of June 7, we have aligned the work of two organizations into one management structure called the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and Smithsonian Affiliations. This unit will be overseen by Myriam Springuel. As many of you know, […]

The post Smithsonian Announces Director for Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and Smithsonian Affiliations appeared first on Smithsonian Affiliations.

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National Museum of American History
Glass plate negative made by Walter J. Hussey, 1885-1910. View of Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building (completed 1881). Taken in December 1889. Washington D.C.

The collection in the Photographic History Collection consists of over two hundred glass plate negatives made by Walter J. Hussey (1865-1959). These glass plate negatives consist of daily life in and around Mount Pleasant, Ohio, Mr. Hussey's friends and family, studio portraits, his trips to the Washington, D.C. area, and Florida.

Smithsonian

National Museum of American History
Glass plate negative made by Walter J. Hussey, 1885-1910. Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building (completed 1881). Taken in December 1889. Washington D.C.

The collection in the Photographic History Collection consists of over two hundred glass plate negatives made by Walter J. Hussey (1865-1959). These glass plate negatives consist of daily life in and around Mount Pleasant, Ohio, Mr. Hussey's friends and family, studio portraits, his trips to the Washington, D.C area, and Florida.

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Smithsonian Gets Google Mapped

Smithsonian Magazine

Now included in the Google Maps database, the Air and Space Museum, along with the National Zoo and 16 other Smithsonian museums.

Getting around the Smithsonian museums has never been easier thanks to a partnership with Google Maps. Visitors using smart phone with Android can now get step by step walking directions through every floor of 17 of the Smithsonian’s museums, including the big three: the Air and Space Museum, the Natural History Museum and the American History Museum.

After seven months of working together to confirm the exact location of museum artifacts, Smithsonian and Google launched the new indoor maps on Tuesday. The announcement was widely covered by publications and outlets including the Washington Post, CBS and Huffington Post.

The maps, which also include the National Zoo, currently cover 2.7 million square feet, but will continue to expand as the partnership moves forward. And because so many tourists and families come looking for particular objects, hundreds of artifacts can be easily located and set as their own destination.

Looking for the Hope Diamond? Just select the item and the map will guide you through the Museum of Natural History. Parents weighted down with diaper bags and snack reserves will delight in the ease of the application.

The product will be available through Google Maps for Android. The database now includes the African Art Museum, the Air and Space Museum, the American Art Museum, the American History Museum, the American Indian Museum, the Anacostia Community Museum, the Freer Gallery, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Zoo, the Postal Museum, the Renwick Gallery, the Ripley Center, the Sackler Gallery and the Smithsonian Castle.

Stay tuned for even more exciting app news this month when the Smithsonian will be unveiling its newest tool for touring the museums in style. 

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