Calendar of Exhibitions
Make the most of your visit to Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. with our easy-to-use Calendar of Events and Calendar of Exhibits. Below is the Calendar of Exhibitions. The museum list on the left allows you to select the museum you are planning to visit. Click on the museum name and the list of current and upcoming exhibits will appear on the right.
To browse current exhibitions, please view our Calendar of Events »
- Anacostia Community Museum
- Archives of American Art
- Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
- Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
- Freer Gallery of Art
- Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
- National Air and Space Museum
- National Air and Space Museum - Udvar-Hazy Center
- National Museum of African Art
- National Museum of American History
- National Museum of Natural History
- National Museum of the American Indian
- National Museum of the American Indian - Heye Center
- National Portrait Gallery
- National Postal Museum
- National Zoological Park
- Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum
- S. Dillon Ripley Center, International Gallery
- Smithsonian American Art Museum
- Smithsonian Institution Building, the Castle
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Anacostia Community Museum
A dynamic, community-oriented exploration of the cultural expressions and social experience of African Americans awaits visitors of the Anacostia Community Museum.
Reclaiming the Edge: Urban Waterways and Civic Engagement
Based on research by the museum on the history, public use, and attitudes toward the Anacostia River and its watershed and on review of urban waterway developments in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Louisville, London, and Shanghai, Reclaiming the Edge explores various issues regarding human interaction with natural resources in an urban setting. It looks at densely populated watersheds and at rivers as barriers to racial and ethnic integration. The exhibition also examines civic attempts to recover, clean up, re-imagine, or engineer urban rivers for community access and use. Seventy-five objects, 16 artworks, and 170 images are featured. Highlights include artworks by Chinese artist Zhang Jian-Jun, Chicano artist Leo Limon, and local artist Bruce McNeil, The opening of this exhibition kicks off the museum's 45th anniversary.
Separate and Unequaled: Black Baseball in the District of Columbia
After a recent successful run at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., a condensed version of this popular exhibition is on view at the museum. From Reconstruction to the second half of the 20th century, baseball, the great American pastime, was played in Washington, D.C., on segregated fields. This exhibition looks at the phenomenal popularity and community draw of this sport when played by African Americans. Featured are such personalities as Josh Gibson and "Buck" Leonard, star players of the Negro Leagues most celebrated team, the Washington Homestead Grays. The show also highlights community teams that gave rise to the various amateur, collegiate, and semi-pro black baseball teams and leagues.
Please Note: Call first to check the monthly viewing schedule as the exhibition may not be available when an activity is taking place in the Program Room: 202-633-4820 (recording).
Archives of American Art
The Archives of American Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery are located in the heart of downtown Washington, DC.
The Archives of American Art’s primary exhibition space, the gallery is located two blocks away from our D.C. Research Center. It can be found on the first floor of the Donald W. Reynolds Center in D.C.’s Penn Quarter neighborhood, which is also home to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.
The Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery enables the Archives to present interactive and informative exhibitions from among the more than 16 million items documenting the history of visual arts in America.
A Day at the Museum
Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery, Reynolds Center, 1st Floor
Letters, sketchbooks, diaries, photographs, and oral history recordings reveal the many ways artists experience museums. Artists may gain inspiration and a sense of community from museums. Some travel long distances, meticulously plotting a tour of museums along their route. Others make repeat visits to their local museums. Some artists even work in museums as guards all day and then head home to focus on their own work, their minds full of things they have seen.
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Together, the Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art form the national museum of Asian art for the United States.
Nine Deaths, Two Births: Xu Bing's Phoenix Project
Now - September 2, 2013
Chinese artist Xu Bing spent more than two years creating his newest work, Phoenix Project, a massive installation on view at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA). At once strange and fiercely beautiful, the installation comprises two birds fabricated entirely from materials found at construction sites in Beijing. While the sculpture itself remains at MASS MoCA, this Sackler exhibition traces the evolution of Phoenix Project and features materials used to plan the work, including drawings, scale models, and reconfigured construction fragments. Also on view are related objects selected by the artist from the Freer and Sackler collections.
Hand-held: Gerhard Pulverer's Japanese Illustrated Books
Now - August 11, 2013
Japanese woodblock-printed illustrated books (ehon) were key sources of knowledge and entertainment during the Edo period (1615–1868). Artists and writers created many designs for these books, and the compact, paper-bound volumes circulated widely. In a striking change from the past, when books were primarily reserved for the elite, the beautiful, intriguing, and humorous subjects in ehon brought reading to the masses. Organized by subject matter from classical Japanese literature to how-to manuals on popular interests of the time, Utamaro’s exquisite Shell book (Shiohi no tsuto) and such other fine art books as Hokusai’s best-selling Manga are highlights from the Gerhard Pulverer Collection. The Pulverer Collection, purchased in its entirety in 2007 by the Freer Gallery, includes some of the rarest examples of the Edo period's most famous illustrated books outside Japan.
One Man's Search for Ancient China: The Paul Singer Collection
Now - July 7, 2013
Sublevel 1 (Verver Galleries)
Collector and scholar Paul Singer (1904-1997) once packed 5,000 objects into his small apartment. Singer's bequest to the Sackler Gallery created one of the largest and most signficant Chinese archaeological collections in the US. In this exhibition, landmark archaeological discoveries shed new light on his acquisitions and on life in ancient China. Highlights include an early bronze plaque with exquisite turquoise inlay; jade and stone objects that closely resemble those found in the tomb of the royal consort Fu Hao dating to the 13th century BCE; 2,000-year-old human hair pieces; and rare and amusing figurines and miniature vessels.
The Arts of China
A variety of of objects highlighting the Sackler Gallery's permanent holdings of Chinese art are on view. Much of the exhibition is dedicated to a comprehensive group of ancient jades and bronzes that spans more than three thousand years, from the Stone Age to the dawn of China's imperial period. Also on display are works from much later periods -- paintings, calligraphy, and decorative objects that represent the refined tastes of imperial and aristocratic patrons. Early Chinese Buddhist art installation includes wall murals painted for the cave chapels at Kizil, a site in central Asia that participated in the east-west exchanges of the Silk Road .
Feast Your Eyes: A Taste for Luxury in Ancient Iran
Sublevel 1, Galleries connecting Freer & Sackler Galleries
In celebration of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery's 25th anniversary, a selection from the Freer and Sackler's extraordinary collection of luxury metalwork from ancient Iran -- an area extending from the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea to present-day Afghanistan -- is on view. This display explores the artistic and technical characteristics of these objects. Featured are works ranging in shape from deep bowls and footed plates to elaborate drinking vessels ending in animal forms, known in Greek as rython, that are largely associated with court ceremonies and rituals. Others, decorated with such royal imagery as hunting or enthronement scenes, were probably intended as gifts to foreign and local dignitaries. Depictions of kings and their royal attributes and pastimes helped define the power and identity of ancient Iranian royalty, whose rule continued well after the arrival of Islam in the 7th century.
Reinventing the Wheel: Japanese Ceramics 1930-2000
The Sackler collection represents significant trends in Japanese ceramics since the 1930s, when traditional workshop masters took on new roles as studio potters alongside artists in other media. Potters at regional kilns revived ancient firing and glazing technology for use in expressive new vessel forms. In postwar Kyoto, ceramic artists departed from conventional ideas of function to create sculptural forms. Today's potters sample at will from these trends, blending meticulous skill with daring reinterpretations of shapes and materials.This installation of highlights works by legendary Living National Treasures to young virtuosos of the present day.
Sculpture of South Asia and the Himalayas
On view are Hindu stone, bronze, brass, and terra-cotta sculptures from South India, dating from the 10th century through the 18th century. Highlights range from a majestic stone image of Shiva Dakshinamurti (Lord of the South) to a fierce gilded bronze of Palden Lhamo, the deity who protects Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet. Also on view is the beloved elephant-headed deity Ganesh, who is the god of new beginnings and the remover of obstacles.
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design.
Freer Gallery of Art
The Freer holds one of the finest collections of Asian art and the greatest collection of work by the American artist James McNeill Whistler in the Western world.
Old Tales Retold: Chinese Narrative Painting
Now - October 20, 2013
More than 20 paintings relay lively stories about famous people and events in Chinese history. The primary intent behind many of the paintings was to promote certain Confucian moral principles and ideals. Consequently, these works often focus on individuals who exhibited positive character traits in their lives, such as humility, loyalty, studiousness, or dedication to the greater good, and who are recognized as paragons of virtue or exemplars of ethical behavior. Along the way, viewers meet emperors and kings, officials, scholars, philosophers, and sages and become acquainted with the particular incidents, acts, or encounters that illustrate their especially admired personal qualities. Many of the stories present unexpected insights into both the particular values espoused by traditional Chinese culture and the universality of human experience.
Sylvan Sounds: Freer, Dewing, and Japan
May 28, 2013 - May 28, 2014
Museum founder Charles Lang Freer’s taste for Japanese art grew out of his affection for American tonalist paintings. Illuminating this connection, landscapes by American artist Thomas Dewing (1851–1938) are juxtaposed with Japanese works that Freer acquired in the late 1890s, just after his first tour of Asia. On view are such Edo-period works as Moon over a Moor alongside Dewing’s paintings, including The Four Sylvan Sounds. Freer’s idealized notions of “old Japan” paralleled the nostalgic, pastoral aestheticism of Dewing’s atmospheric landscapes. Dewing often acted as Freer’s buying agent at the New York branch of Yamanaka and Company, helping his patron select Japanese prints, hanging scrolls, and screens that both reflected and affected his own artistic production.
Korean Tea Bowls for Japan
Tea bowls made in Korea—known in Japan as koraijawan—were the implements of choice in the avant-garde tea ceremony known as wabicha. Translated as “poverty tea” or “rustic tea,” wabicha arose in the 16th century, in part as a reaction to the ostentatious displays of brown- or celadon-glazed Chinese bowls seen in earlier presentations. Wabicha participants instead were drawn to the subdued glazes and relaxed forms of Korean bowls. Initially they were imported tablewares, but they were soon made to order for Japanese taste. From 1639 to 1717, a kiln operated within the Japanese enclave in Busan, with a second source of order-made tea wares identified recently at Beopgi-ri in Korea. Though Korean kilns could no longer compete with Japanese potteries in the difficult economic climate of the early 18th century, Korean styles continued to be mainstays of Japanese kilns.
Now - August 4, 2013
Edo Aviary traces how depictions of birds, long part of the Japanese visual repertoire, were influenced by natural history painting in the Edo period. Great attention was given to physical accuracy, but the tendency to give birds anthropomorphic qualities also came to the fore.
Poetic License: Making Old Words New
Now - August 4, 2013
Poetric License shows how the interpretation of classical Japanese and Chinese literary traditions, previously the domain of an educated aristocracy, was absorbed into the merchant and artisan classes during the Edo period, producing energetic reconsiderations of time-honored themes.
Promise of Paradise: Early Chinese Buddhist Sculpture
The Freer's collection of stone and gilt bronze Buddhist sculptures highlights two flourishing ages, the 6th century and the High Tang (6th-8th century). The exhibition's focus is the monumental Cosmological Buddha: a life-size stone sculpture covered in intricate representations of the realms of existence, ranging from hell to the abodes of the devas (Buddhist gods).
Whistler's Neighborhood: Impressions of a Changing London
Now - September 8, 2013
James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) lived in London’s Chelsea neighborhood from 1863 until his death. Bordering the Thames, Chelsea was home to artists, aristocrats, tradesmen, and paupers. In the 1880s, a period of great social and topographic upheaval in Chelsea, Whistler depicted the storefronts and street life outside his door. Historic buildings were razed and replaced by mansions for the upper class, forcing the poor into squalid conditions. The diminutive etchings in Whistler’s Neighborhood, which also features watercolors and small oil paintings, underscore the immediacy of the artist’s quick impressions of his evolving neighborhood. Together, the works form a time capsule of a rapidly changing city
This permanent rotating exhibition features a selection of Japanese screens from the nearly 200 screens held by the Freer Gallery. Ranging in date from the 15th century to the 19th century, the screens represent the major thematic and stylistic examples of this popular format. Works from the collection feature detailed representations of daily life, in forms ranging from visual quotations from classical literature to celebratory depictions of bustling urban life of the 17th century.
Chinese Ceramics: 10th-13th Century
Potters in both north and south China perfected the skills needed to control and modulate ceramic glazes—in shades of white, green, blue, brown, and black—during the Song dynasty (960–1279). In some modes, the glaze complemented carved or incised decoration; in others, its purity of color became a focal point on its own. Two dozen Chinese ceramics from the Freer collection highlight these glazes and the skills of Song dynasty artisans.
Cranes and Clouds: The Korean Art of Ceramic Inlay
The Korean Gallery features an exhibition embodying the evolution of the distinctive Korean ceramic decoration know as sanggam. Originally, sanggam involved inlaying white and black pigments into stamped or carved motifs to create images of cranes, clouds, ducks, lotuses, and willows that appear to float within a limpid green glaze. This technique appeared in Korea by the mid-12th century; it would adorn tableware and ritual vessels used by the court and nobility for two centuries. Once porcelain replaced celadon as the elite ceramic, however, the appearance of inlaid decoration changed radically. White pigment, applied in dense patterns to cover everyday bowls and dishes, approximated the snowy appearance of porcelain.
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Silk Road Luxuries from China
A vast network of caravan trails has long linked the oasis settlements spread across the Central Asian desert. For nearly two millennia these trade routes, now collectively known as the Silk Road, facilitated the spread of Buddhism and provided a course for the long-distance exchange of luxury goods between merchants and traders in China and the West. The impact of foreign imports on the arts of China is particularly apparent in objects dating from the 6th century through 8th century, when Chinese artisans explored new materials (e.g., silver and gold), techniques, forms, and decorative patterns. Exceptional examples of objects and tableware -- most made in the vicinity of the Tang capital at Chang'an (modern Xi'an) -- are featured. In addition, on view are portions of an elaborate stone burial couch that was apparently made for the tomb of one of the traders from Sogdiana (modern-day Uzbekistan and Tajikistan).
The Peacock Room Comes to America
December 2015 (TBA)
Peacock Room, Gallery 12
For the first time, the Freer Gallery's renowned Peacock Room has been restored to its appearance in 1908, when museum founder Charles Lang Freer used it to organize and display more than 250 ceramics from all over Asia. The first special exhibition in this room since its conservation in 1993, The Peacock Room Comes to America highlights Freer's belief in "points of contact" between American and Asian art and underscores the relationship among the museum's diverse collections. Note: Starting August 18, 2011, the shutters in the Peacock Room will open from 12 noon until 5:30 PM on the 3rd Thursday of every month to December 2015.
Originally designed by architect Thomas Jeckyll, the Peacock Room was once the dining room for British shipping magnate Frederick Leyland, who wanted a place to showcase his blue-and-white Chinese porcelain collection in his London home. When American artist James McNeill Whistler redecorated the room in 1876 as a "harmony in blue and gold," he too was inspired by the delicate patterns and vivid colors of the pots. Their slick surfaces did not appeal to Freer, however, who favored complex surface texture and subtly toned glazes. When Freer purchased the Peacock Room in 1904 and moved it from London to Detroit, he filled the shelves with pots he had collected from countries as diverse as Egypt, Iran, Japan, China, and Korea. Freer's ceramics are absorbing individually and as part of the full installation, which he thoughtfully designed to form a harmonized whole. After Freer's death (1854-1919), the Peacock Room was installed in the Freer Gallery of Art and is on permanent display.
Catalog: The Peacock Room Comes to America
Ancient Chinese Jades and Bronzes
Galleries 18 & 19
More than 100 of the Freer's jades and bronzes -- among the greatest treasures of Chinese art outside China -- return to public view after almost a decade. Featured are 80 astounding objects illustrating the remarkable jade production of the Liangzhu culture (ca. 3300-2250 BCE) and its influence on other Chinese Neolithic and Bronze Age civilizations. Also highlighted are powerful animal motifs and forms featured on some 40 ritual vessels, as well as fittings from the late Shang dynasty (ca. 1300-1050 BCE) to the early Western Zhou dynasty (ca. 1050-900 BCE).
Arts of the Indian Subcontinent and the Himalayas
Galleries 1 & 2
This long-term rotating exhibition showcases the extraordinary range of South Asian and Himalayan art, including sublimely beautiful Buddhist, Jain, Hindu, and Islamic objects, as well as masterpieces of Mughal and Rajput paintings and lavishly decorated court arts and daggers made for the Mughal emperors. Divided into several sections, the Buddhist art charts the emergence of the Buddha image in India and its transmission throughout Asia. It includes Budhhist images from Nepal, Tibet, Southeast Asia, and China. Also on view are several Rajput paintings on the theme of love, which demonstrate the bold colors and rhythmic compositions of the Hindu court. Late 19th- to early 20th-century examples of exquisitely crafted gold jewelry complete the exhibition.
The Religious Art of Japan
Works from the Freer's collection of Japanese religious art are exhibited in several thematic rotations. Buddhist iconography was first introduced to Japan from the Asian mainland in the 6th century. The complex belief systems and sacred cosmologies of diverse Buddhist sects have since continued to find expression in Japanese art. Internationally noted works of Buddhist sculpture on view include delightfully animated representations of the Guardians of the Four Directions and a serenely poised image of a bodhisattva. A group of masks used in temple dance rituals and a selection of paintings created by monk artists for Zen Buddhist temples are also on display.
North corridor at northwest and northeast corners (Jefferson Drive entrance):
• Two huge Kongorikishi (also known as Ni-o) warriors: Japan, Kamakura period, early 14th century, wood
Inside south doors (near Independence Avenue entrance):
• Vimalakirti: A huge 6th-century stone Buddhist sculpture: China, from the Binyang cave at the Longmen Grottoes in Henan Province
Outdoor Sculpture: Twisted Form by Shiro Hayami
Outdoors near Jefferson Drive entrance
Twisted Form (Traveler's Guardian Spirit), 1981, an Agi stone and Peruvian granite sculpture by Shiro Hayami.
Arts of the Islamic World
Galleries 3 & 4
The arts of the Islamic world flourished in a vast geographic area extending from Morocco and Spain to the islands of Southeast Asia. Although distinct in their cultural, artistic, ethnic, and linguistic identities, the people of this region have shared one predominant faith, Islam. The works on view here represent the three principal media for artistic expression in the Islamic world: architecture (both religious and secular), the arts of the book (calligraphy, illustration, illumination, and bookbinding), and the arts of the object (ceramics, metalwork, glass, woodwork, textiles, and ivory).
The works date from the 9th century to the 17th century. On view are brass bowls and candlesticks, folios from the Koran, earthenware and ceramics, and paintings representing the traditions of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and other parts of North Africa, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
The eye-catching architecture of the Hirshhorn sets it apart from the other museums on the National Mall. The Hirshhorn is an arresting, elevated hollow cylinder that is 82 feet high and 231 feet in diameter.
Outdoor Cafe (seasonal)
Featuring Hot Dogs, Italian Sausages, Wraps, Salads, and Soft Drinks
Hours: Daily 10a.m.-3p.m.
Permanent/Indefinite: Collection Highlights
Lower Level, 2nd Floor, 3rd Floor
Collection Highlights is a rotating display of works from the museum's permanent collection. Each installation offers a different grouping of works gathered around a theme or individual artists and provides new ways of looking at its diverse holdings as well as in-depth exploration of notable artists. These installations often display rarely seen or innovative recent works as well as favorite masterpieces.
Lower Level: Black Box theater dedicated to recent moving-image works and galleries showcasing temporary installations.
2nd Floor: This level features changing exhibitions and works from the collection.
3rd Floor: Here, find single-artist galleries devoted to works by Clyfford Still, Willem de Kooning, and Ellsworth Kelly. Also see temporary installations. Note: A portion of the permanent collection galleries on the third floor is closed through September 2013.
Article on Hirshhorn Museum, see Smithsonian magazine: April 2007, pp. 39-40.
Directions: Jennie C. Jones: Higher Resonance
Now - October 27, 2013
Music, art history, and African American culture intermingle in the art of Jennie C. Jones, who creates audio collages, paintings, sculptures, and works on paper that explore the formal and conceptual junctures between modernist abstraction and black avant-garde music, particularly jazz. Higher Resonance is an immersive installation that takes the form of a listening area shaped by a new offset wall mirroring the curve of the existing gallery space. Along this wall are Jones's Acoustic Paintings constructed from industrial soundproof materials. The sound component explores the myriad cultural connotations through samples of African American avant-garde music from the 1970s to the present, including works by such composers and performers as Olly Wilson, Alvin Singleton, Wendell Logan, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Alice Coltrane.
Over, Under, Next: Experiments in Mixed Media, 1913 to the Present
Now - September 8, 2013
Approximately 100 examples of collage and assemblage, primarily drawn from the Hirshhorn's collection, reveal the myriad ways that modern and contemporary artists have made use of the fragments and detritus in the world around them to challenge traditional art media. Butterfly wings, glass shards, doll parts, crumpled automotive metal, jigsaw puzzle pieces, clothing, straight pins, furniture, and colored sand are some of the materials used. Featured artworks include Joseph Stella's tiny photomechanical reproduction and cut paper composition, Ann Hamilton's installation palimpsest (1989), and Bruce Connor's groundbreaking film Report (1967). These works demonstrate the incredible diversity of collage and assemblage from artists around the world and how they evolved over the last century.
Black Box: DEMOCRACIA
September 2013 (TBA)
The Black Box theater showcases rotating exhibitions of contemporary artists who use film or video as their creative medium. Films or videos run continuously.
Ser y Durar [To Be and to Last] is a 2011 video project by DEMOCRACIA -- artistic duo Pablo España and Iván López from Spain -- that revolves around a group of traceurs in revolutionary-styled garb performing parkour in the Almudena Cemetery in Madrid.
Outdoor Sculptures: Plaza and Sculpture Garden
Plaza and Sunken Sculpture Garden
Hirshhorn Plaza: The plaza redesign, by landscape architect James Urban (completed in 1993), includes granite surfaces, trees and other plantings, areas of lawn, an outdoor pathway, and ramp accessibility from the northwest end of the Ripley Garden.
Works on view include: Spatial Concept: Nature (1959-60, cast 1965) by Lucio Fontana; Subcommittee (1991) by Tony Cragg; Needle Tower (1968) Kenneth Snelson; Last Conversation Piece (1994-95) by Juan Munoz; Geometric Mouse: Variation 1, Scale A (1971) by Claes Odenburg; Antipodes (1997) by Jim Sanborn; and Throwback (1976-79) by Tony Smith.
• Brushstroke: This 32-foot-high by 20-foot-wide towering black-and-off-white painted aluminum sculpture reinforced with I-beams is one of the last examples of Roy Lichtenstein's (American, 1923-1997) ongoing engagement with the brushstroke motif. Based on a model created in 1996, it was enlarged and fabricated 2002-2003 by Amaral Custom Fabrications in Massachusetts under the supervision of the Lichtenstein estate. Installed week of September 16, 2003, on the Plaza near Jefferson Drive.
Sunken Sculpture Garden: The garden's extensive renovation that included making it wheelchair accessible with new landscaping and reinstallation of approximately 75 contemporary sculptures was completed Sept. 15, 1981.
Works on view include: The Drummer by Flanagan; Nymph by Maillol; Burghers of Calais, Monument to Balzac, and Walking Man by Rodin; Horse and Rider by Marini. Other sculptors represented include de Kooning, Giacometti, Lipchitz, Manzu, Miro, Moore, Shea, and Smith.
• For Gordon Bunshaft 2007: This site-specific work by conceptual artist Dan Graham consists of a triangular pavilion with two-way mirrors (with glass doors to enter the structure) and an open wooden lattice that stands approximately 7.5-foot tall. The two-way mirrors allow visitors inside and outside to simultaneously see themselves, each other, and the surrounding landscape. Graham describes this mirror-and-wood structure as a hybrid because one side is derived from traditional Japanese architecture while the other two sides allude to modern corporate architecture and Bunshaft's design of the iconic Hirshhorn building. Installed near the reflecting pool in the Sunken Sculpture Garden May 30, 2008.
Barbara Kruger: Belief + Doubt
This site-specific installation by Barbara Kruger (American, b. Newark, NJ, 1945) wraps the entire lower-level lobby in text-printed white vinyl against fields of black and red. Covering the walls, floor, and escalator sides, this immersive piece explores themes of democracy, doubt, and belief. The resulting environment is a visually spectacular hall of voices that envelops visitors as they descend from the ground level. Reading becomes a whole-body experience, with phrases revealing themselves only as the spectator circulates through the space.
National Air and Space Museum
Since the building opened in 1976, the National Air and Space Museum has been the most-visited museum in the world, and a must-see for visitors to Washington, DC.
Food & Entertainment:
Dining Court features McDonald's, Boston Market and Donatos Pizzaria
Features hamburgers, French fries, chicken, pizza, salad and desserts
Group and bulk packages available
Hours: Daily 10a.m.-5p.m.
Features panini and wrap sandwiches, pastries, specialty coffees and teas
Hours: Daily 10a.m.-5p.m.
Outdoor Kiosk (seasonal, weather permitting)
Providing hot dogs, chips, bottled beverages and ice cream
Hours: Daily 9a.m.-4p.m.
Experience being an engineer and.or astornaut during a space shuttle mission.
Time and Navigation: The Untold Story of Getting from Here to There
Time and Navigation, Gallery 213, 2nd Floor, East Wing
If you want to know where you are, you need an accurate clock. This surprising connection between time and space has been crucial for centuries. About 250 years ago, sailors first used accurate clocks to navigate the oceans. Today we locate ourselves on the globe with synchronized clocks in orbiting satellites. Among the many challenges facing navigation from then to now, one stands out: keeping accurate time. Featuring 144 objects, this exhibition explores how revolutions in timekeeping over three centuries have influenced how we find our way. The exhibition is organized into the following five sections:
- Navigating at Sea is an immersive environment that suggests a walk through a 19th-century sailing vessel.
- Navigating in the Air relates how air navigators struggled with greater speeds, worse weather, and more cramped conditions than their sea-going predecessors.
- Navigating in Space traces how teams of talented engineers invented the new science of space navigation using star sightings, precise timing, and radio communications.
- Inventing Satellite Navigation describes how traveling in space inspired plans to navigate from space.
- Navigation for Everyone tells the stories of real people -- a fireman, a farmer, and a student -- who use modern navigation technology in their everyday lives and addresses what might come next.
Presented in collaboration with the National Museum of American History.
U.S.S. Starship Enterprise Model
Museum Store, Lower Level
This model of the starship Enterprise was used in the filming of the Star Trek TV show, which ran from 1966 to 1969. It is mostly made of poplar wood and vacu-formed plastic. Sheet metal tubes were used for the two engine housings or nacelles.
Gallery 114, 1st Floor, East Wing
This major exhibition traces the competition in space between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union from its origins in the 1950s to the recent international cooperation. Objects include a Soyuz TM-10 spacecraft, a Kosmos 1443 "Merkur" spacecraft, and a space suit made for the never-accomplished mission to land a Russian on the Moon. The exhibition is divided into the following sections:
- Military Origins of the Space Race examines the rivalry to develop rockets powerful enough to send thermo-nuclear warheads across the globe.
- Secret Eyes in Space reveals long-secret reconnaissance projects and includes the recently declassified "Corona" spy satellite camera.
- Racing to the Moon looks at the public accomplishments of both countries and includes the Soviet "Krechet" lunar space suit and the Apollo space suit.
- Exploring the Moon looks at the equipment developed to transmit pictures of the lunar surface to Earth, to perform chemical analyses of the soil, and to do other scientific experiments and includes an Apollo Lunar Landing Module.
- A Permanent Presence in Space looks at the efforts of both countries to establish permanent space stations for continued scientific discovery and the beginning of an era of cooperation in space.
- Fifty Years of Human Spaceflight examines how the Soviet Union and the United States raced to launch the first humans into space in 1961, during the Cold War.
- Models of the Space Shuttle
How Things Fly
Gallery 109, 1st Floor, East Wing
This interactive gallery explains the basic principles of air and space flight through hands-on activities. The gallery features a Cessna 150, a section of a Boeing 757 fuselage, a model of the International Space Station, and more than 50 interactives. The exhibition is divided into 7 sections:
- The Basics: Gravity and Air demonstrates the properties of gravity and air with a barometer that slides from floor to ceiling and an 11-foot, radio-controlled blimp overhead.
- Winging It uses a series of wind tunnels to demonstrate the forces of lift that lift an aircraft off the ground. "Explainers" are on hand to perform demonstrations.
- Faster Than Sound: High-Speed Flight demonstrates how aircraft fly faster than the speed of sound through the use of a supersonic wind tunnel.
- Getting Aloft: Thrust explores propellers, jets, and rockets that provide thrust, the forward motion needed to sustain lift and counter drag.
- Gravity and No Air: Flight in Space uses computer interactives and a "gravity well" to demonstrate how a spacecraft in orbit is affected by gravity.
- Staying Aloft: Stability and Control explains "attitude" (orientation) using a rotating platform, a model Cessna 150 in an airstream, and a real Cessna 150 with operable rudder, ailerons, and elevator.
- The Makings of a Flying Machine: Structure and Materials explains how materials and structure shape the way air and space craft look and perform, explores the advantages and disadvantages of different materials used, and includes a cut-away Cessna 150.
An amphitheater-style area features "Explainers" performing demonstrations. "Forces of Flight" demonstrations, paper airplane contests, "Air and Space Touchables" demonstrations, and videos rotate throughout the day.
A Visitor Resource Center is filled with science activities, video programs, interactive computer programs, children's literature, and other reference materials related to flight sciences.
Voyage - A Journey Through Our Solar System
Outdoors, south side of Jefferson Dr. between Air & Space Museum and the Castle
In this outdoor exhibition, our solar system is presented at one ten-billionth actual size through 13 units -- one each for the 9 planets, the Sun, asteroids and comets, and 2 introductory units -- that stretch 650 yards from the Air & Space Museum to the Smithsonian Castle. The model brings to life the great distances between the planets, illustrates their unique characteristics, and reveals the Earth's place in our solar system and the Sun's place among the stars. The exhibition was developed by the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, NASA, and the Smithsonian Institution.
Free educational guide: Available at information desks at the Castle and the Air and Space Museum
Outdoor Sculptures: Air and Space Museum
Near Jefferson Drive and Independence Avenue entrances
• Ad Astra sculpture by Richard Lippold, is located near the museum's entrance at Jefferson Drive.
• Continuum -- cast bronze sculpture (1976) by Charles O. Perry, is located at the museum's entrance at 6th and Independence Avenue.
• Delta Solar sculpture by Alejandro Otero, is located on the west side of the museum near 7th Street; it was a gift from the Venezuelan government.
Moving Beyond Earth
Gallery 113, 1st Floor, East Wing
This exhibition explores the achievements and challenges of human spaceflight in the United States during the space shuttle and space station era through artifacts, immersive experiences, and interactive computer stations. Highlights include:
- a space shuttle main engine and middeck crew cabin outfitted for flight
- an autonomous robot and flown-in-space science experiment apparatus
- astronaut clothing and crew equipment
- shuttle toys and space memorabilia
- a 12-foot-tall space-shuttle model and other launch-vehicle models
- a presentation center for live events, broadcasts, and webcasts
Pioneers of Flight, Barron Hilton
Gallery 208, 2nd Floor, Center
This renovated exhibition highlights the growth of aviation and rocketry during the 1920s and 30s and features famous "firsts" and record setters. It has been updated with new research and includes a broader selection of artifacts. The individuals featured were pioneering men and women who pushed the existing technological limits of flight and broke both physical and psychological barriers to flight. The exhibition features sections on "Military Aviation," "Civilian Aviation," "Black Wings," and "Rocket Pioneers." To engage children, the gallery features hands-on activities, as well as toys, books, and childhood memorabilia of the era in an area entitled "Don's Air Service."
- Anne Lindbergh's telegraph key
- Jimmy Doolittle's "blind flight" instruments
- Tuskegee Airman Chauncey Spencer's flight suit
- the "Hoopskirt" rocket test stand
- Lindbergh memorabilia
- gifts received by the crew of the Douglas World Cruiser
- kiosk featuring archival film clips
Aircraft on view include:
- Wright EX Vin Fiz biplane: flown by Cal Rogers as the first pilot to make a transcontinental flight in fewer than 30 days, 1911
- Fokker T-2: first nonstop U.S. transcontinental flight, 1923
- Douglas World Cruiser Chicago: first around-the-world flight, 1924
- Lockheed 5B Vega: flown by Amelia Earhart in the first solo flight across the Atlantic by a woman, 1932
- Lockheed 8 Sirius: flown by the Lindberghs on airline-route mapping flights, 1930s (see Nov. 2006 Smithsonian magazine, pp. 42-43)
- Curtiss R3C-2 Racer
- The gondola from the Bud Light Spirit of Freedom, the first balloon to carry one person -- Steve Fossett -- nonstop around the world
- 1/4-scale model of the Montgolfier balloon: 1st manned aerial vehicle, 1783
Related books are available for sale in the Museum Store.
America by Air
Gallery 102, 1st Floor, West Wing
How did the first commercial airline companies get off the ground? How has the experience of air travel changed over the past century? How will the politics of today affect the way we fly tomorrow? These are some of the issues in the development of commercial air transport this gallery explores, while expanding on the history of air transportation from only a few years after the invention of powered flight to the commercial challenges and technical sophistication of the 21st-century jet age. Featuring seven complete airplanes, engines, and other objects, this exhibition focuses on the following time periods:
- The Early Years, 1914-1927
- Airline Expansion and Innovation, 1927-1941, featuring a Ford Tri-Motor and a Douglas DC-3, the most successful airliner of the 1930s.
- The Heyday of Propeller Airliners, 1941-1958, featuring a Douglas DC-7, the first airliner to provide nonstop coast-to-coast service.
- The Jet Age, 1958-Today, featuring the forward fuselage section of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet. Note: Visitors can enter from the second floor to view the cockpit.
See online activities.
Gallery 203, 2nd Floor, West Wing
The focus of this gallery is overwater flight, including aircraft carrier operations from 1911 to the present.
- Carrier Hangar Deck for All Times: displays major aircraft from different periods in the history of sea-air
- Boeing F4B-4 biplane: a shipboard fighter used from 1932 to 1937
- Douglas SBD Dauntless: the principle carrier-based bomber used throughout most of WWII
- Grumman FM-1 Wildcat: the first-line Navy fighter and the start of WWII
- Douglas A-4 Skyhawk: the first-line naval attack aircraft of the 1950s and 1960s
- Re-creation of the bridge of an aircraft carrier where visitors can step aboard the USS Smithsonian to watch simulated aircraft take off and land
- Ship's Museum presents the history of flight over water
Legend, Memory, and the Great War in the Air (WWI Aviation)
Gallery 206, 2nd Floor, West Wing
This gallery features the emergence of air power in World War I and reexamines the reality and the romantic image of this war.
- Voisin VIII: early type of night bomber, 1915
- SPAD XIII: French fighter aircraft also used by Americans
- Fokker D.VII: considered the best German fighter aircraft of WWI
- Albatros D.Va: German fighter aircraft that flew on all fronts during WWI
- Pfalz D.XII: built to replace the outdated Albatros D.Va
- Sopwith Snipe: British aircraft considered one of the best all-around single-seat fighters, although it came quite late in the war
- German factory scene: WWI mass-production techniques, with original equipment
- A model of the Spruce Goose and several artifacts related to its construction (outside the gallery)
Small theater with video presentations
Milestones of Flight
Gallery 100, 1st Floor, Center
This gallery features famous airplanes and spacecraft that exemplify the major achievements in the history of flight.
- Mercury Friendship 7: the first manned orbiting flight, carrying John Glenn, Feb. 20, 1962
- Gemini IV: the first U.S. space walk by Edward H. White II, June 3-7, 1965
- Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia: 1st manned lunar landing, 1969, carrying Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Michael Collins
- Touchable Moon Rock: a "gem" from the lunar surface, collected by Apollo astronauts
- Goddard Rockets: a full-scale model of the world's 1st liquid propellant rocket, flown on March 16, 1926, and a large rocket constructed in 1941 by Robert Goddard, father of American rocketry
- Bell XS-1 (X-1) Glamorous Glennis: 1st manned flight faster than the speed of sound, flown by Chuck Yeager, Oct. 14, 1947
- Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis: Lindbergh's plane for 1st solo trans-atlantic non-stop flight 1927
- Explorer I: back-up model of 1st U.S. satellite to orbit the earth, 1958
- Sputnik I: Russian replica of 1st artificial satellite to orbit the Earth, 1957
- North American X-15: 1st winged, manned aircraft to exceed 6 times the speed of sound and the 1st airplane to explore the fringes of space, 1967
- Mariner 2: model of 1st spacecraft to study another planet when it flew by Venus, launched Dec. 14, 1962
- Pioneer 10 (prototype): 1st spacecraft to fly by Jupiter and 1st aircraft to venture beyond the planets, launched March 3, 1972
- Viking Lander: an unmanned proof test capsule used in ground tests before and during the Viking flights to Mars in 1976
- Bell XP-59A Airacomet (#1 of 3): 1st American turbojet aircraft, direct ancestor to all American jet aircraft, flown by Robert M. Stanley, Oct. 1, 1942
- Breitling Orbiter 3 Balloon Gondola: 1st balloon to fly around the world nonstop in 1999
- SpaceShipOne: 1st privately built and operated vehicle to reach space
Gallery 108, 1st Floor
The Welcome Center features the information desk and the following:
- Robert T. McCall Mural: The Space Mural -- A Cosmic View by Robert T. McCall portrays the past, present, and future of the universe with a depiction of the Big Bang, an Apollo astronaut on the Moon, and a lunar rover and second astronaut.
- Eric Sloane Mural: Earth Flight Environment by Eric Sloane illustrates different weather phenomena in our atmosphere -- lightening, rain, a rainbow -- and a variety of cloud forms as a single airplane streaks across the sky.
- Trophy Case featuring the following objects:
- The Aero Club Trophy for Aviation Excellence, along with a list of winners.
- The NASM Trophy for extraordinary achievements in aerospace.
- A model of Ascent by John Safer, a 65-foot sculpture installed at the Udvar-Hazy Center.
- Voyager: Around the World Without a Pit Stop
For details see separate entry.
World War II Aviation
Gallery 205, 2nd Floor, West Wing
This gallery highlights land-based aviation during World War II and features fighter aircraft from each of 5 countries.
- North American P-51D Mustang: an outstanding fighter plane used in every theater of war
- Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero: maneuverability and range were excellent; the Japanese navy used it in almost every action throughout the war
- Martin B-26 Flak Bait (nose only): flew the most missions of any American bomber in Europe
- Supermarine Spitfire Mark VII: the legendary British fighter used to defeat the Germans in the Battle of Britain, along with the Hurricane
- Messerschmitt Bf 109G: the principle Luftwaffe fighter; major opponent of the Spitfires and American bombers
- Macchi C.202 Folgore: the most successful Italian fighter to see extensive service; used in the African campaign and in Italy and Russia
Lunar Exploration Vehicles
Gallery 112, 1st Floor, East Wing
This gallery highlights NASA lunar surface exploration.
- Apollo Lunar Module: a duplicate of the spacecraft that carried astronauts to the surface of the moon in the Apollo Program, late 1960s and early 1970s
- Surveyor Spacecraft: soft-landed on the moon to study lunar soil composition and physical properties of the lunar surface, 1966-68
- Lunar Orbital Spacecraft: circled the moon to perform mapping of the entire lunar surface, 1966-67
- Ranger: provided the first closeup photographs of the lunar surface, 1962-65
- Clementine: designed for a two-month mapping mission in orbit around the moon in 1994. Clementine provided answers to many of the questions about the moon that remained from the Apollo era.
Exploring the Planets
Gallery 207, 2nd Floor, West Wing
This exhibition highlights the history and achievements of planetary exploration, both Earth-based and by spacecraft.
- Voyager: full-scale replica of the spacecraft that explored Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune in the 1970s and 1980s
- A Piece of Mars? A meteorite fragment discovered in Antarctica in 1979 and thought to be from Mars (placed on view 6/16/1990)
- Surveyor 3 television camera: retrieved from the surface of the Moon by the Apollo 12 astronauts
- Mars Exploration Rover
Early Flight, The Samuel P. Langley Gallery of
Gallery 107, 1st Floor, West Wing
This re-created indoor aeronautical exhibition (circa 1913) highlights the early history of the airplane from antiquity through the first decade of powered flight. Period furnishings, talking mannequins, and ragtime music combine to bring back the special ambience of the time.
- Wright 1909 Military Flyer: the world's 1st military airplane
- Lilienthal glider: glider that inspired Wilbur and Orville Wright, 1894
- 1912 Curtiss Pusher
- 1914 Bleriot XI monoplane
- Ecker Flying Boat:
Theater with video presentation
Gallery 106, 1st Floor, West Wing
This gallery illustrates the first 40 years of jet aviation (1939-1979), including the evolution of commercial and military jet aircraft.
Aircraft on display include:
- Messerschmitt Me 262: world's 1st operational jet fighter
- Lockheed XP-80 Shooting Star Lulu Belle: world's 1st operational carrier jet fighter
- McDonnell FH-1 Phantom
Also on view is a 25' by 70' mural of 27 jet aircraft by Keith Ferris. Theater with numerous brief film clips
Theater with numerous brief film clips
Apollo to the Moon
Gallery 210, 2nd Floor, East Wing
This gallery traces NASA's manned space program beginning with Project Mercury's Freedom 7 (5/5/61); then the Gemini Project (1965-66); followed by the Apollo Program (1967-1972), with Apollo 17 as the last manned exploration of the moon.
- Space flight time line, with photos of participating astronauts
- Items and equipment used by astronauts during the Apollo Project
- Space suits worn by Apollo astronauts on the moon
- Information about the moon and selected lunar scenes showing Lunar Rover and astronauts at work
- Saturn Booster -- S-1C rocket propulsion system
- Lunar Samples: 4 types of lunar soils and rocks
- Apollo 16 telescope backup; the original, designed by George Carruthers, is on the moon
The Wright Brothers & The Invention of the Aerial Age
Gallery 209, 2nd Floor, East Wing
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' historic first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903, this exhibition presents the Wrights' technical achievements and examines the cultural impact of early powered flight. The centerpiece of the gallery is the original 1903 Wright Flyer, displayed on the ground for the first time since the Smithsonian acquired it in 1948. Also on view are 250 photographs and 150 other artifacts, including the stop watch used to time the first powered flights, a Wright wind tunnel test instrument used in unlocking the secrets of aerodynamics, a reproduction of the Wright Brothers' 1899 experimental kite, and full-size reproductions of their 1900 and 1902 experimental gliders.
Hands-on stations and interactive computer stations: both provide an understanding of flight
Free Family Guide
Companion publication by curators Tom Crouch and Peter Jakab, $35 (cloth)
Explore the Universe
Gallery 111, 1st Floor, East Wing
Through objects, interactives, and videos, this exhibition explains what scientists think our universe is like, how the present scientific view of the universe came to be, how it is being shaped today, and what mysteries remain. With the development of each new tool to explore the universe -- telescopes, photography, spectroscopy -- our understanding of the universe changed dramatically. Despite these new advances, many of our questions remain unanswered: What is the universe? How big is it? How old is it? How did it begin? A changing section on what's new in our exploration of the universe will keep the exhibition up to date and attempt to answer these questions.
- Exploring the Universe with the Naked Eye examines our first, basic understanding of the universe. Featured artifacts include Islamic astrolabes and a replica of the armillary sphere and portable mural quadrant used by Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe.
- Exploring the Universe with the Telescope illustrates how the telescope revolutionized the way we see the universe. Featured artifacts include the telescope tube through which William Herschel discovered thousands of nebulae and star clusters, leading him to postulate that other galaxies exist beyond our Milky Way.
- Exploring the Universe with Photography shows how photographs changed the way astronomers recorded the universe. Featured artifacts include the camera used by Edwin Hubble in discovering other galaxies.
- Exploring the Universe with Spectroscopy demonstrates how the composition of light reveals histories within the universe. Featured artifacts include an early spectrograph from the late 1800s and a 1912 letter from Albert Einstein discussing the warping of space by matter.
- Exploring the Universe in the Digital Age explains how digital detectors and processors have enhanced the power of the earlier tools. Featured artifacts include the "Z machine" that gathered data for the first 3-D map of the universe.
Related book: Beyond the Earth, $40 (cloth)
The Golden Age of Flight
Gallery 105, 1st Floor, West Wing
This gallery covers the years between the World Wars (1919-1939) but focuses on the period shortly after Lindbergh's flight in 1927 through 1939. Described as "golden" because of many advances in aviation technology, record-making flights, and intense interest by the public in aviation events, the era produced many of today's legendary aviation heroes. Aircraft and engines, newsreel coverage of aviation events, photographs, models and reproductions, and newspaper headlines are included. The opening of this exhibition coincided with the 60th anniversary of the takeoff of the Douglas World Cruisers, a major event during the Golden Age.
- Wittman Buster: 1947 air racer that won the most races in aviation history
- Beechcraft Staggerwing: popular general aviation aircraft of the 1930s
- Northrop Gamma Polar Star: first transantarctic flight, 1935
- Curtiss Robin Ole Miss: set endurance record of 27 days over Meridian, Mississippi, in 1935
- a reproduction of the Gee Bee Z
- the Golden Age Theater, featuring film footage of famed pilot Jimmy Doolitle
Looking at Earth
Gallery 110, 1st Floor, East Wing
This gallery traces the development of technology for viewing Earth from balloons, aircraft, and spacecraft. The quest for ever-higher, ever-clearer images of the Earth is reflected in photographs and spacecraft images from a few feet to 7.5 million miles away. Some photographs are mural-size.
- de Havilland DH-4: an American World War I aircraft used extensively for mapping and surveying in the 1920s
- Lockheed U-2C: key U.S. high-altitude reconnaissance jet developed in 1954-55 during the Cold War era, with flight suit and typical camera, dating from the 1950s to the present
- Earth observation satellites: prototypes of TIROS, the world's first weather satellite, built in 1960; ITOS weather satellite (engineering test model), 1970s; GOES geostationary satellite (full-scale model), 1975 to the present; and models of other satellites
- Landsat image of your state: interactive touchscreen display showing orbital views of the 50 states. Visitors to the gallery can also "punch in" an image of their hometown area as seen by a Landsat satellite
Voyager: Around the World without a Pit Stop
Independence Ave. Lobby (South Lobby), Gallery 108, 1st Floor
This exhibit features the Voyager, the first aircraft to fly around the world without landing or refueling. The flight was made by pilots Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager December 14-23, 1986.
The Teledyne engine used to propel the aircraft is included, as well as a video showing the building of the plane and its test flights. The plane was designed by Burt Rutan.
The exhibit also presents the history of round-the-world flights and the evolution of aircraft construction techniques, including a sample of the Voyager's composite material.
National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
The National Air and Space Museum's spectacular Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is a massive complex displaying aviation and space artifacts both large and small.
Food & Entertainment:
Full service McDonald's menu featuring burgers, fries, chicken sandwiches, sodas, and sundaes.
Group and bulk packages available
Hours: Daily 10 a.m.-5p.m.
Offering specialty coffees, teas and pastries
Hours: Daily 10 a.m.-5p.m.
Experience being an engineer and.or astornaut during a space shuttle mission.
Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar
View from Visitor Overlook
Watch from the mezzanine as museum specialists reconstruct, repair, and preserve the historic aircraft, spacecraft, and other treasures in the National Air and Space Museum's collection. The Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar is spacious enough to accommodate several aircraft at a time. The Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver is currently being restored. Visit often to watch our progress!
World War II Prints by Robert Taylor
1st Floor, near Claude Moore Education Center
On view are prints by Robert Taylor that depict World War II.
James S. McDonnell Space Hangar
West of Aviation Hangar
Some 160 large space and missile artifacts and 500 smaller space history artifacts are on view to illustrate the scope of space exploration history as organized around the following four main themes: rocketry and missiles, human spaceflight, applications satellites, and space science. Highlights include:
- Space Shuttle Discovery, NASA's longest-serving orbiter, which flew 39 missions from 1984 through 2011 and spent 365 days in space
- An unflown Mercury series spacecraft
- Gemini 7 space capsule, flown by Frank Borman and James Lovell on their two-week orbital endurance mission in 1965
- Apollo command module Boilerplate, used by Navy personnel to train for shipboard retrieval procedures
- Spacelab Laboratory Module
- Mobile Quarantine Facility #3, 1 of 4 Airstream trailers built by NASA to isolate astronauts in order to prevent the spread of any lunar-based contagions ("moon germs"); used by the crew of Apollo 11 after their return to Earth
- 63-foot floor-to-ceiling Mercury-Redstone missile
- Close Encounters of the Third Kind Mothership model, used for the filming of the movie of the same name
- A case of popular culture space toys
- Anita, a spider used for web formation experiments aboard Skylab
- Sirius FM-4 digital radio broadcasting satellite (installed October 24, 2012)
Related app from Air & Space magazine: Space Shuttle Era: Stories from 30 Years of Exploration.
Boeing Aviation Hangar
More than 160 aircraft are currently on view to illustrate the scope of aviation history, including military, commercial, business, sports, and pre-1920 aviation and vertical flight (helicopters). Highlights include:
- Spirit of Tuskegee, a PT-13 Stearman biplane used to train Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, went on view October 26, 2011; it is on loan from the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.
- Pathfinder Plus, a high-altitude, solar-powered, unmanned experimental aircraft, went on view early March 2007.
- Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer, the 1st non-stop solo airplane flown around the world without refueling in 2005 by Steve Fossett (donated to the Smithsonian on May 23, 2006).
- SR-71 Blackbird: This reconnaissance aircraft is the world's fastest flying airplane in the atmosphere (donated to the Smithsonian by the Air Force on March 6, 1990).
- Air France Concorde 205 Fox Alpha: This 27-year-old aircraft flew at Mach 2, twice the speed of sound.
- Enola Gay (Boeing B-29): This bomber helped to end WWII.
- Grumman Goose: This amphibian is Grumman's 1st twin-engine monoplane and its 1st aircraft to enter commercial airline service
- Boeing 307 Stratoliner: This is the 1st airliner to have a pressurized fuselage; 1st flown in 1938.
- Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation: Known as the Connie, this plane, introduced in 1951, shortened transcontinental travel by an astounding 5 hours
- Langley Aerodrome A: This craft represents the failed attempt at human flight by Samuel Pierpont Langley (Secretary of the Smithsonian, 1887-1906)
- Biplanes, gliders (e.g., Bensen B-6 Gyroglider), ultralights, and aerobatic planes (e.g., Little Stinker, flown by Betty Skelton) suspended from the ceiling
- Several helicopters, including a Bell UH-1H "Huey" and the Bell LongRanger Model 206L, Spirit of Texas (spring 2010), in which H. Ross Perot Jr. and Jay Coburn completed the 1st around-the-world helicopter flight, Sept. 1-30, 1982
- Curtiss JN-4 Jenny, the 1st aircraft to fly mail, has been moved from the Mall museum (fall 2009) and is on view here while it is being restored
- Arado AR 234 B-2 Blitz (Lightning), the world's first operational jet bomber and reconnaissance aircraft
- Artifacts of varying sizes (e.g., uniforms, equipment, aircraft models, etc.) on view in a number of glass-fronted cases
- Transformer toys and props from the movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which was filmed in part at the museum.
Japanese American Pioneers of the Jet Age
Boeing Aviation Hangar
In 1955, Pan American World Airways -- in an effort to become the pre-eminent carrier for routes over the Pacific -- recruited Japanese American stewardesses as ambassadors to the growing tide of world travelers and established an Asian language base in Honolulu. Photographs and such memorabilia as uniforms, flight bags, and scrapbooks provide a peak at the role of these Japanese America stewardesses.
National Museum of African Art
The National Museum of African Art is America's only museum dedicated to the collection, conservation, study and exhibition of African art in all its forms.
Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa
Now - January 5, 2014
Sublevel 2, Pavilion, outside in gardens
Earth Matters is the first major exhibition to examine the conceptually complex and visually rich relationship between African artists and the land upon which they live, walk, and frame their days. Approximately 100 artworks are on view in five thematic sections -- the Material Earth, Power of the Earth, Imagining the Underground, Strategies of the Surface, and Art as Environmental Action. These categories provide vantage points from which to examine the most poignant relationships that Africans have with the land, whether it be to earth as a sacred or medicinal material or to earth as something exploited by mining or claimed by burial. For the first time, five artists create land-art installations in the Smithsonian gardens.
African Mosaic: Building a Collection
Like a colorful mosaic made from a thousand pieces of brilliant glass, African Mosaic features some 100 objects that represent 10 years of building a permanent collection and reflect the diversity and outstanding quality of Africa's arts. On view are a variety of objects from gold jewelry and wooden figures to a coffin in the shape of a cell phone.
Serving as a welcome center, the pavilion features several contemporary and traditional objects, which are often on a large scale and rotated on a regular basis, to show a cross section of African art.
The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection Highlights
On view are 60 objects and 4 in the lobby from this comprehensive 525-piece collection of African art representing 20 African countries and 75 peoples and covers 5 centuries of African art, including most major styles ranging from a highly abstract Cameroon mask to a naturalistic carved wooden male figure from Madagascar. Many of the works inspired such 20th-century artists as Picasso and Juan Gris.
Catalogue: $39.95 (paper)
Free family guide
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
The National Museum of American History collects artifacts of all kinds, from gowns to locomotives, to preserve for the American people an enduring record of their past. The Museum has more than three million artifacts in its collection.
Food & Entertainment:
Stars and Stripes Cafe
The main eatery for the National Museum of American History is the newly renovated Stars and Stripes Cafe, which seats 600 and is large enough to accommodate groups. Menu includes all-American barbeques, soups, salad bar, burgers, pizza and desserts. Cash and credit cards accepted.
Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
The new Constitution Cafe, open the same hours as the Museum, is the perfect place for morning coffee, a light lunch or a mid-afternoon ice cream. Its large picture window has a terrific view of the Museum’s fountain and the street.
Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
If taking a short, wild adventure is your idea of a break, then you will enjoy our new ride simulators. They will take you on a variety of journeys like driving a racecar or riding a roller coaster.
I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story
September 2013 (TBA)
3rd Floor, Corridors
This banner exhibition celebrates Asian Pacific American history across a multitude of incredibly diverse cultures and explores how Asian Pacific Americans have shaped and been shaped by the course of our nation’s history. Rich with compelling, often surprising stories, it takes a sweeping look at this history, from the very first Asian immigrants centuries ago to the complex challenges facing Asian Pacific American communities today.
Related iPhone app.
Gymnast Gabrielle Douglas
American History Museum, 2nd Floor, East Wing
On view are objects donated by gymnast Gabrielle Douglas: the leotard she wore during her first competitive season in 2003; the grip bag, wrist tape, and uneven bar grips she used at the 2012 London Olympics; her mother Natalie Hawkins's Olympics ticket; Douglas's credentials for access to Olympic venues; and personal photos. Celebrates Black History Month.
The National Woman Suffrage Parade, 1913
October 2013 (TBA)
History Highlights Case, 1st Floor, Center
On March 3, 1913, 5,000 women marched up Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, demanding the right to vote. Their “national procession,” staged the day before Woodrow Wilson’s presidential inauguration, was the first civil rights parade to use the nation’s capital as a backdrop, underscoring the national importance of their cause and women’s identity as American citizens. The event brought women from around the country to Washington in a show of strength and determination to obtain the ballot. The extravagant parade -- and the near riot that almost destroyed it -- kept women's suffrage in the newspapers for weeks. Costumes worn by participants, along with banners, sashes, postcards, letters, and photographs, re-create the mood of the parade and illustrate its impact.
Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863, and the March on Washington, 1963
Now - September 15, 2013
African American History and Culture Gallery, 2nd Floor, East Wing (American History Museum)
The National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History commemorate two events that changed the course of the nation: The 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1963 March on Washington. These events were the culmination of decades of struggles by individuals—both famous and unknown—who believed in the American promise that this nation was dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal.” Such objects as the inkstand used by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862 to draft the document that would become the Emancipation Proclamation and the pen President Lyndon Johnson used to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964 reveal how these two events—separated by 100 years—are linked together in a larger story of freedom and the American experience. Other highlights include:
- the top hat Abraham Lincoln wore to Ford's Theater the night he was assassinated on April 14, 1865
- shards of stained glass from the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, where four young black girls were killed in an explosion on September 15, 1963
- Harriet Tubman’s shawl
- a marshal's armband from the March on Washington and the guitar played by singer Joan Baez
Related iPad app: Changing America: To Be Free
No photography permitted
1st Floor, East Wing
By the late 19th century, America's Industrial Revolution was moving full steam ahead. This hall follows the development of the increasingly efficient power machinery that helped the United States become a world leader in industrial production during this time. Full-size engines and models illustrate attempts to harness atmospheric force (1660-1700), the early age of steam power (1700-1770), the development of high-pressure and high-speed engines (1800-1920). The exhibition also shows the evolution of steam boilers and the steam turbine and progress in the techniques of harnessing water power. A number of pumps, waterwheels, and historic internal combustion engines are also on view.
3rd Floor, East Wing
Built in 1776, the gunboat Philadelphia is the oldest American fighting vessel in existence. She sank on October 11, 1776, in Lake Champlain during the battle of Valcour Island, when an American flotilla commanded by General Benedict Arnold was defeated by a British fleet. The gunboat Philadelphia was raised in 1935 and came to the museum in 1964, complete with the 24-pound ball that sent it to the bottom.
Historical video footage of the 1935 raising of the gunboat Philadelphia from Lake Champlain (runs continuously)
Food: Transforming the American Table, 1950-2000
1st Floor, East Wing
Whether convenient, fast, organic, processed, gourmet, ethnic, or local—the foods available to Americans have never been more plentiful and diverse, or more ripe for discussion. Coupled with big changes in who does the cooking, where meals are consumed, and what we know (or think we know) about what’s good for us, the story of Americans and food in the last half of the 20th century is about much more than what’s for dinner. Learn about the social changes that have changed how we eat in the the following sections:
- Julia Child's Kitchen: One of the Smithsonian’s most popular artifacts, the kitchen contains the tools, equipment, and furnishings arranged exactly as they were when Julia donated it to the museum. She was an important force who changed the way many Americans think about and prepare food; she inspired many cooks to venture into unfamiliar cuisines and encouraged them to enjoy cooking and to share the pleasures of the table.
- “New and Improved!”: Explore the innovations behind some of the major changes in food production, distribution, preparation, and consumption since the 1950s. Learn about the rise of large-scale, centralized agriculture, the expansion of manufactured “convenience” foods, and the tremendous increase in drive-thru and on-the-go dining.
- Resetting the Table: How have social and cultural movements affected what’s on the table in America? Explore the role of new immigrants in introducing new flavors. Learn how shifting gender roles, working patterns, and family life have changed the way we eat. Examine the roots of movements embracing local, fresh, and organic foods.
- Wine for the Table: The tremendous growth and expansion of wine and winemaking is an important story in postwar America. Discover how new technologies, innovators, and changing attitudes led to the production of wine in all 50 states by 2000.
- Open Table: Take a seat at a large, communal table and engage in conversation about a wide range of food-related issues and topics.
1st Floor, Center
Covered wagons, which enabled settlement to spread from the Atlantic to the Pacific, have long held an iconic place in the real and storied past of the American nation. Until the 1850s, Conestoga wagons helped settlers just beyond the mid-Atlantic region compete in national and even world markets. They hauled supplies and finished goods over the Allegheny Mountains and returned to Philadelphia and Baltimore with agricultural bounty from the western frontier.
The Miniature World of Faith Bradford: The Dolls' House
1st Floor, West Wing
This dollhouse represents a romantic view of the life of a large and affluent American family in the early 1900s. Its 23 rooms contain more than 800 miniature items, including furniture, linens, toys, and other household items. The late Faith Bradford, a records expert at the Library of Congress, spent more than a half century designing and building the miniature furnishings; it was donated to the museum in 1951. Also on view is Ms. Bradford's scrapbook, which shows her methods of creating the house.
Girl Scouts 1912-2012
The museum celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts with this special case highlighting the organization's history from its early years to today through uniforms, camping, community activities, and more.
2nd Floor, East Wing
A chronological look at the people, inventions, issues, and events that shape the American story, this exhibition showcases more than 100 historic and cultural touchstones of American history from the museum’s vast holdings, supplemented by a few loans. A changing exhibition space features new acquisitions. Highlights include:
- Dorothy's ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz
- a fragment of Plymouth rock
- Benjamin Franklin's walking stick
- Abraham Lincoln’s gold pocket watch
- a sunstone capital from the Mormon temple at Nauvoo, Illinois
- Bob Dylan's jacket
- Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves
- Archie Bunker's chair
- Kermit the Frog
- former Secretary of State Madeline Albright’s suit
- Elphaba’s costume from the musical Wicked
- miniature teakettle from 1807
Spanish-language translations of the exhibition labels are available for loan at the information desks.
Download the related app for iPhone and Android devices.
Artifact Walls near the Constitution Ave. Entrance
Snowboarding first appeared in the 1960s through the efforts of a few American surfing, skateboarding, and skiing enthusiasts. This History Highlight case examines the history of snowboarding and features the Snurfer, one of the earliest snowboard prototypes; a Backhill snowboard made by Burton; and objects from recent Olympians Shaun White and Hannah Teter.
You Must Remember This
Artifact Walls near the Constitution Ave. Entrance
Coinciding with the grand opening of the museum's new Warner Bros. Theater, this display case features 20 feet of Hollywood memorabilia, including Bette Davis's costumes from Dark Victory and Now, Voyager; the press book and producer's script from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?; Bruce Lee's martial arts costume from Enter the Dragon; and Harry Potter’s robe. Also on view are such historical objects from Warner Bros. Studio as Jack Warner’s silver telephone and Bugs Bunny animation drawings.
(photo: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone © 2001 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R.)
The First Ladies
Rose Gallery, 3rd Floor, Center, enter from American Presidency
Learn how first ladies have shaped the role of first lady as the role of women in society evolved. On view are more than two dozen gowns, including those worn by Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan, and Jacqueline Kennedy. Four cases provide in-depth looks at Dolley Madison, Mary Todd Lincoln, Edith Roosevelt, and Lady Bird Johnson and their contributions to their husband’s presidential administrations.
Two Key Smithsonian Figures: Leonard Carmichael and Frank Taylor
Artifact Walls near the Mall Entrance
Images and objects in this case reveal the role of two Smithsonian leaders who championed the creation of the National Museum of American History (originally known as the Museum of History and Technology): Leonard Carmichael (1898–1973), Smithsonian Secretary between 1953 and 1964, and Frank Taylor (1903–2007), the Museum of History and Technology’s founding director from 1958 to 1968.
Celluloid: The First Plastic
Artifact Walls near the Constitution Ave. Entrance
This case examines celluloid, the world's first commercially successful plastic, which was invented by John Wesley Hyatt in 1869. Initially made to imitate natural materials, celluloid was mainly used to manufacture inexpensive yet stylish goods -- ranging from beauty accessories and housewares to postcards and advertising keepsakes -- proving that inexpensive but durable products could be made from plastic. Though celluloid was no longer a popular material by the 1940s, it remains the primary material for Ping-Pong balls.
The Star-Spangled Banner: The Flag that Inspired the National Anthem
2nd Floor, Center
The nation's flag, which underwent an 8-year conservation period from 1998 to 2006, is today the centerpiece of the museum. Soaring above the entrance to the gallery is an architectural representation of a waving flag -- approximately 40 feet long and up to 19 feet high and composed of 960 reflective tiles made of polycarbonate material.
An introductory section in the entry corridor sets the scene for the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812. Around the corner, the 30-by-34-foot wool-and-cotton flag is on view in a new dramatic display behind a 35-foot-long, floor-to-ceiling glass wall in a climate-controlled gallery that re-creates the dawn's early light, similar to Francis Scott Key's experience the morning of September 14, 1814, when he saw the flag flying over Ft. McHenry in Baltimore Harbor, inspiring him to pen the famous lyrics. The first stanza of the national anthem is projected prominently on the wall above the flag. Sections in the exit corridor trace the flag's history, including its safekeeping by Major George Armistead and his descendants, the Smithsonian's efforts to preserve it for more than 100 years, and how both the flag and the national anthem have come to represent diverse ideas of patriotism and national identity.
Also at the exit is a tactile panel with an outline of the flag and a full-size star for visitors who are visually impaired.
No photography permitted
- The Star-Spangled Banner: The Making of an American Icon: $29.95 (cloth)
- Book of 33 postcards:$7.95
The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden
Views into the Collection Gallery, 3rd Floor, Center Corridor
This exhibition of more than 900 objects related to the 43 men who have held the nation's highest office explores the public, personal, ceremonial, and executive boundaries of the presidency. Composed of 11 thematic sections, the exhibition addresses such topics as inaugural celebrations, presidential roles, life at the White House, limits of presidential power, assassinations and mourning, the influence of the media, and life after the presidency.
The following highlights are on view:
- the portable desk used by Thomas Jefferson to draft the Declaration of Independence
- Abraham Lincoln's life mask
- Lewis and Clark compass
- the horse-drawn carriage that carried Ulysses S. Grant in his second inaugural parade in 1873
- a radio microphone used by Franklin D. Roosevelt to give his fireside chats during World War II
- an early teddy bear (named after Theodore Roosevelt)
- Bill Clinton's saxophone.
Videos, including an introductory video welcoming visitors to the exhibition
Catalogue: $50 (cloth); $24.95 (paper)
Satellite Museum Store
The Price of Freedom: Americans at War
Armed Forces History Hall, 3rd Floor, East Wing
This exhibition surveys the history of America's military from the Colonial Era to the present conflict in Iraq, exploring how wars have been defining episodes in American history. Through more than 800 artifacts, images, and interactive stations, the exhibition reveals how Americans have fought to establish the nation's independence, determine its borders, shape its values of freedom and opportunity, and define its role in world affairs. It also explores the social impact of America's wars, presenting the link between military conflict and American political leadership, social values, technological innovation, and personal sacrifice.
The exhibition is arranged chronologically into the following 10 sections:
- Introduction, including the French and Indian War
- Revolutionary War, featuring George Washington's uniform and commission from Congress as commander in chief of the Continental Army.
- Wars of Expansion -- including the Indian Wars, the Mexican War, and the Spanish-American War -- featuring the buckskin coat worn by George Custer while he was stationed at frontier Army posts in the West during the Western Indian War.
- Civil War, featuring the chairs Civil War generals Lee and Grant used during the surrender ceremony at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.
- World War I, featuring a doughboy uniform, gas mask, and carrier pigeon Cher Ami.
- World War II, featuring a Willys Jeep used for transporting troops and supplies.
- Cold War and Korean War
- Vietnam War, featuring restored UH-1H Huey Helicopter.
- Recent conflicts -- including the 1991 Gulf War and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- featuring Colin Powell's uniform from Operation Desert Storm.
- Medal of Honor, featuring videos in which recipients recount their experiences.
Catalogue: $17 (paper)
Satellite Museum Store
Within These Walls...
2nd Floor, West Wing
This exhibition tells the history of the re-created, 2 1/2-story, Georgian-style house that stood at 16 Elm Street in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and five of the many families who occupied it from the mid-1760s through 1945. The exhibition explores some of the important ways ordinary people, in their daily lives, have been part of the great changes and events in American history. Walking around the exterior of the house, visitors can view -- through open walls, windows, and doorways -- settings played out against the backdrop of Colonial America, the American Revolution, the abolitionist movement, the industrial era, and World War II. Near the exit is a list of all the families who lived in the house through the 1960s.
Free brochure "House Detective: Finding History in Your Home"
Electricity: Lighting a Revolution
Electricity Hall, 1st Floor, East Wing
This exhibition reveals -- through five interwoven stages -- how Thomas Edison's incandescent electric light bulb and other inventions began to transform our world and examines the similarities and differences between the process of invention in Edison's era and today.
• several of Edison's early light bulbs
Taking America to Lunch
Lower Level, near entrance to Stars and Stripes Cafe, south wall
On view are more than 50 children's and workers' illustrated metal lunch boxes and beverage containers dating from the 1890s through the 1980s to celebrate the history and endurance of American lunch boxes. After reaching the height of their popularity at the dawn of the television era, lunch box sales became barometers for what was current in popular culture.
America on the Move
1st Floor, East Wing, Transportation Hall
This major exhibition examines how transportation -- from 1876 to 1999 -- has shaped our American identity from a mostly rural nation into a major economic power, forged a sense of national unity, delivered consumer abundance, and encouraged a degree of social and economic mobility unlike that of any other nation of the world.
Arranged chronologically and through 19 sections, historical moments explored include the coming of the railroad to a California town in 1876, the role of the streetcar and the automobile in creating suburbs outside of cities, and the transformation of a U.S. port with the introduction of containerized shipping in the 1960s.
Among the 300 objects on view, highlights include:
- Electrifying Cars (October 27, 2011-January 2012) explores the history of the electric car from the early 20th century to the present and showcases two cars—a 1904 Columbia electric runabout, the best-selling car in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, and a 1913 Ford Model T touring car, a gasoline car equipped with an early type of electric starter and electric headlights.
- "Jupiter," a steam-powered locomotive built in 1876 for the Santa Cruz Railroad
- 260-ton "1401" locomotive, which pulled President Franklin Roosevelt's funeral train on part of its journey to Washington, D.C.
- 1903 Winton was the first car driven across the U.S. -- by H. Nelson Jackson and Sewall Crocker, with Bud the Dog as a passenger
- 1926 Ford Model T Roadster; the Ford Motor Company ceased production of the Model T in 1927
- 1942 Harley-Davidson motorcycle
- Chicago Transit Authority "L" mass transit car built in 1959
- a piece of U.S. Route 66, the "People's Highway," that connects Chicago to Los Angeles
Free brochure: America on the Move TripTik
Bilingual (English/Spanish) Family Guide
Companion book: $35 (cloth)
Main Corridors of each wing
Three large, iconic artifacts in the main corridor of each wing highlight the key themes of the exhibitions in that wing:
• The John Bull Locomotive identifies the transportation and technology wing of the museum (1st Floor, East Wing Corridor).
On view is the steam locomotive John Bull and a section of the first iron railroad bridge in America.The John Bull was built in 1831 and ran for 35 years, pulling trains of passengers and cargo between the two largest cities of the time, Philadelphia and New York. The locomotive propelled trains at 25 to 30 miles per hour. The John Bull, which was ordered from England by Robert Stevens for his railroad company, was named after the mythical gentleman who symbolized England. It was assembled by Isaac Dripps, a young steamboat mechanic who had never seen a locomotive before.
• The Greensboro Lunch Counter identifies the American ideals wing of the museum (2nd Floor, East Wing Corridor).
This section of the Woolworth's lunch counter with 4 stools from Greensboro, North Carolina, represents the February 1, 1960 sit-in that challenged segregated eating places. On February 1, 1960, four African American students -- Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond -- sat down at this counter and politely asked for service. Their request was refused. When asked to leave, they remained in their seats. They were all enrolled at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College. Their "passive sit-down demand" began one of the first sustained sit-ins and ignited a youth-led movement to challenge injustice and racial inequality throughout the South. See February 2010 Smithsonian magazine, pp. 28-29.
• Civil War Draft Wheel identifies the American wars and politics wing of the museum (3rd Floor, East Wing Corridor). This Civil War draft wheel demonstrates the beginning of conscription (military draft) in the United States; it functioned as part of a procedure to select men for military service. The names of men eligible for the draft were written on slips of paper and dropped into holes inside the wheel. An official pulled out names to fill the ranks of the Union army.
On the Water: Stories from Maritime America
American Maritime Enterprise, 1st Floor, East Wing
Marine transportation and waterborne commerce underlie American history like a strong and steady ocean current. Maritime trade established major cities, created connections between people and places, and opened the continent. This exhibition traces American maritime history from 18th-century sailing ships, to 19th-century steamboats and fishing craft, to today's huge container ships. Items featured include rigged ship models, patent models, documents, and images from the Smithsonian's National Watercraft Collection. American maritime history is brought to life through the stories of whaling crews, fishermen, shipbuilders, merchant mariners, passengers, and many others who work on the nation's waterways.
Audio and video components
Stories on Money
1st Floor, East Wing
Through objects from the museum's National Numismatic Collection, this exhibition explores the development and meaning behind American coinage and currency and demonstrates the interplay among people, money, and history from the earliest times to the present.
- America's Money shows what money looked like in colonial America and at pivotal times in the nation's history, including the gold rush, the Great Depression, and the current era. It also compares coins from the 19th century with those produced during the renaissance of American coinage in the early 20th century.
- The Power of Liberty features an array of coins from the U.S. and around the world depicting Liberty, the feminine personification of freedom, as well as coins featuring real and mythological women.
Interactive stations allow visitors to view enlarged images and learn more about numismatic history.
Artifact Walls: Constitution Ave. Entrance Corridor
Constitution Ave. Entrance Corridor
On view in floor-to-ceiling, glass-fronted walls on both sides of the Constitution Avenue entrance are objects highlighting the depth and breadth of the museum's permanent collection and our nation's rich and diverse history. The objects, which are occasionally rotated, are organized around the following themes, along with special themed cases:
• Popular Culture
• Business, Work, and the Economy
• Home and Family
• Land and Natural Resources
• Peopling America
• Politics and Reform (temporarily off view through summer 2012)
• Science (temporarily off view through summer 2012)
• America's Role in the World
Outdoor Sculptures: Gwenfritz and Infinity
Near Madison Dr. entrance (Mall entrance) and on Northwest grounds
• Gwenfritz, a mammoth stabile by Alexander Calder, is on the northwest museum grounds (installed 1968).
• Infinity, a stainless-steel sculpture by Jose de Rivera, is at the Mall entrance (installed 1967).
Artifact Walls: Mall Entrance Corridor
Madison Dr. Entrance Corridor
On view in floor-to-ceiling, glass-fronted walls on both sides of the Mall entrance are objects highlighting the depth and breadth of the museum's permanent collection and our nation's rich and diverse history. The objects are organized around the following themes:
• Popular Culture
• Business, Work, and the Economy
• Home and Family
• Land and Natural Resources
• Peopling America
• Politics and Reform
• America's Role in the World
National Museum of Natural History
The wonders of the natural world await you beneath the dome of this classical building, which has recently been undergoing extensive renovation.
Atrium Cafe (Ground Floor)
Featuring natural and sustainable foods including natural beef burgers, rotisserie chicken. pizza, taqueria, sandwiches, soups, salads, pastas and desserts.
Discounts for Smithsonian members
Group packages available
Hours: Mon-Fri: 11a.m.-3p.m. Sat: 11a.m.-5p.m. Sun: 11a.m.-4p.m.
Firday Night Jazz Cafe
call 202-633-1000 for schedule and details
Fossil Cafe (First Floor)
Espresso/Cappuccino bar featuring sandwiches, salads, soups and desserts.
Discounts for Smithsonian Members
Hours: Daily 10a.m.-7p.m.
Specialty Ice Cream and Coffee Bar (Ground Floor)
Daily from 11:30a.m.-5p.m., 7p.m. on Fridays
Outdoor Carts (seasonal)
Hot Dogs, Pretzels, Sodas, Ice Cream and Dippin' Dots
Hours: Daily 10a.m.-3p.m. Sat-Sun: 11a.m.-5p.m.
Whales: From Bone to Book
May 2014 (TBA)
Ground Floor, Evans Gallery
Natural History is more than just bones, feathers, and fossils in a museum drawer; it is a process of discovering and recovering objects in the natural world and then translating what they mean into scientific knowledge. This exhibition traces the path of knowledge from discovery on the beach or sea cliff to museum drawer to scientific publication. It features scientific illustrations by Sydney Prentice, the fossils that were used to make the illustrations, the printing blocks and resulting books, tools used in collecting specimens, and current research to illustrate the collaborative process that results in these beautiful images.
Census of Marine Life/A Decade of Discovery
September 2013 (TBA)
Case in Sant Ocean Hall, 1st Floor, North Center
The Census of Marine Life project, a decade-long project culminating in 2010, produced the most comprehensive inventory of known marine life ever compiled and cataloged. The project, which will be the basis for future research, involved several curators from the museum and from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Systematics Lab at the museum. This case features the prestigious International COSMOS prize received by the project, graphics, and a squid specimen.
The Evolving Universe
Now - July 7, 2013
Special Exhibits Gallery, 2nd Floor, Northwest Wing
Through full-color images from high-powered terrestrial and orbiting telescopes, take a mind-bending journey from present-day Earth to the far reaches of space and the distant past — back to the beginning of the universe. Explore how stars and galaxies — even the universe itself — change from birth to maturity to death, much like living things on Earth. Presented in collaboration with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
Eternal Life in Ancient Egypt
2nd Floor, West Wing, near entrance to Written in Bone
Learn about Egyptian burial ritual; its place with ancient Egyptian cosmology; and the insights that mummies, burial rites, and cosmology provide about life in ancient Egypt. The exhibition focuses on Smithsonian science and what museum experts have learned about burial practices, health, disease, and demographics from studying mummies.
The following cases are on view:
- In the Mummy's Tomb is a re-creation of a tomb with a mummy and its coffin (ca. 150 BC to AD 50 ) and a variety of grave goods from various periods (ca. 3500 BC to AD 50). Such grave goods were intended to provide the deceased with the spiritual and physical support needed for smooth passage to eternity.
- Making a Mummy reveals the step-by-step process of mummification. Scientific studies indicate that the 2,200-year-old mummy on view ate little meat and that his lungs contain soot, which he probably inhaled while tending fires.
- What’s in a Face displays 6 mummy masks dating from ca. 1388 BC to AD 200 to trace the changing style of coffin decoration and to bring visitors face-to-face with the living people behind the mummies.
- Mummy Science reveals insights into burial practices, health, disease, and demography that can be gained from the study of mummies.
- Animal Mummies explains the link between animal mummification and the Egyptian belief system and features the museum’s two Apis bull mummies and mummies of cats, ibises, hawks, crocodiles, dogs, and a baboon.
- Tentkhonsu’s Coffin showcases the richly decorated inner coffin of Tentkhonsu, a member of a group of noble women who participated in temple services and festivals.
- Preparing for Eternal Life explores how living Egyptians tried to assure they and their families would have eternal life after death.
- The Gods and Eternal Life explores the roles of two prominent gods, Osiris and Re, in helping the dead achieve eternal life and in keeping the natural order of the world of the living.
- Insects in Ancient Egypt reveals that insects were an important part of preparing for the afterlife and became symbolic of the transition.
Geology, Gems, and Minerals, Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of
2nd Floor, East Wing
This hall features 2,500 minerals and gems, including the Hope Diamond, Hooker Emerald Brooch, and Star of Asia sapphire. It also explores the birth and evolution of the solar system and the earth's changing surface through computer interactives and video presentations and is divided into the following sections:
The Harry Winston Gallery houses the Hope Diamond, in a specially designed case. On January 13, 2012, the Hope Diamond was returned to its historic setting.
The National Gem Collection features:
- the Dom Pedro aquamarine, the world's largest faceted aquamarine, cut into an obelisk standing 13.75 inches tall and weighing 10,363 carats (4.6 pounds)
- the Cindy Chao Black Label Masterpiece Royal Butterfly Brooch (2009), composed of 2,328 gems, including sapphires, diamonds, rubies, and tsavorite (green) garnets, for a total weight of 77 carats; many of the gems fluoresce under ultraviolet light (to be added March 6, 2013)
- the Marie Antoinette diamond earrings
- a 263-carat diamond necklace and a diadem (tiara) given by Napoleon to Empress Marie-Louise
- the Janet Annenberg Hooker fancy yellow diamonds
- 2 topaz crystals from Brazil, weighing 111 and 70 pounds respectively, and a 23,000-carat cut-and-polished topaz
- a 423-carat sapphire set in diamonds
- the DeYoung red and pink diamonds
- the 127-carat Portuguese diamond, the largest cut diamond in the collection
- the Rosser Reeves ruby
- the Carmen Lucia Ruby, weighing 23.1-carats, is one of the largest faceted Burmese rubies known to exist. The stone is set in platinum and flanked by 2 triangular colorless diamonds measuring 1.1 and 1.27 carats.
The Minerals and Gems Gallery features some 2,000 specimens grouped by shape, color, growth, and other characteristics.
The Mine Gallery features a re-creation of 4 mines showing crystal pockets and ore veins in created dioramas.
The Plate Tectonics Gallery illustrates how earthquakes, mountain chains, and volcanoes result from the constantly shifting plates of the Earth's surface and features the "Plate Tectonics Theater" and interactive computer stations.
The Moon, Meteorites, and Solar System Gallery explores the birth and evolution of our solar system through films, computer interactives, and specimens and features moon rocks, a touchable Mars rock, meteorites, and stardust.
The Rocks Gallery focuses on how rocks record and verify the geological processes that have shaped our planet -- erosion and deposition, which destroy and create rocks on Earth's surface and heat and pressure, which transform and melt rocks within the Earth.
• The National Gem Collection, $39.95 (cloth), $24.95 (paper)
• Blue Mystery: The Story of the Hope Diamond, $9.95 (paper)
The Sant Ocean Hall
1st Floor, North Center
Covering 71% of the Earth's surface and containing 97% of the planet's water, the ocean is a vast and complex ecosystem; it is intrinsically connected to other global ecosystems and is essential to all life, including our own. In this new hall, the importance and complexity of the ocean is revealed through a cross-disciplinary perspective -- biological, geological, and anthropological. Information on understanding and predicting changes to the Earth's environment and on how to conserve and manage coastal and marine resources to meet our nation's economic, social, and environmental needs is also highlighted.
Highlights include a life-size model of a 45-foot North Atlantic right whale, based on the real female whale named Phoenix, the centerpiece of the exhibition; two giant squids; a set of 7-foot-tall jaws of the extinct great white shark (Carcharodon megalodon), the biggest shark that ever lived; and a 26-foot long Northwest Coast canoe, carved especially for the exhibition by a Tlingit master carver.
The other 10 sections are as follows:
- Living on an Ocean Planet (opens summer 2013) highlights the long-term connections between the ocean and people's daily lives and inspires visitors to conserve the ocean and continue learning about it.
- Shores to Shallows highlights different kinds of coastal ecosystems around the world and how they are affected by humans.
- The Coral Reef, a 1,000-gallon aquarium featuring a living model of an Indo-Pacific coral reef ecosystem with some 50 live, colorful specimens.
- The Poles demonstrates the differences between the North and South poles and how life thrives at both through extreme adaptations.
- Ocean Systems, featuring "Science on a Sphere," a large rotating 360-degree global display suspended from the ceiling with images and narration that explains many of the complex aspects of the ocean, including what the ocean produces, how it changes, and how it interacts with the atmosphere.
- Journey Through Time gives visitors the opportunity to compare fossils of a large number of ancient animals; some are more than 500 million years old.
- Deep Ocean Exploration, a 13-minute video shown continuously in the exhibit theater, takes visitors on a dive to the very bottom of the ocean's floor in a submersible with scientists as they uncover some of the her deepest mysteries.
- Collections, featuring a special showcase, displays the world's largest and most diverse collection of marine specimens and explains how this collection helps scientists make sense of ocean life.
- Ocean in the News: An "Ocean Today" kiosk provides interactive ocean news -- giving regular updates on ocean-related topics around the world.
- Focus Gallery featuring changing exhibitions (see separate listing).
Also, the exhibition uses modern technology to create the following:
- High Bay Media Experience: The main hall's upper walls are transformed into windows into the ocean through high-definition underwater footage.
- The Ocean as a Laboratory The work of marine scientists around the world is revealed through 7 audio-visual stories, a large map, and photo essays.
Related Smithsonian publication Smithsonian Ocean: Our Water, Our World: $39.95
Dinosaurs: Reptiles—Masters of Land
Spring 2014 (TBA)
1st Floor, East Wing
All of the old favorites are on view in the exhibition hall:
- Diplodocus longus: The gigantic 90-foot-long Diplodocus longus is the centerpiece of the hall and was found in Utah in 1923.
- Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex): The "King of the Tyrant Lizards" is 40 feet long and still fearsome after 65 million years. This full-size cast is on loan indefinitely from Voyage Expanded Learning, Inc. The original specimen was 65% complete and was discovered in South Dakota.
- Triceratops: The museum's 65-million-year-old Triceratops is named "Hatcher" in honor of John Bell Hatcher, who discovered the original fossil in Wyoming in 1891. It is positioned in a face-off with its rival T. rex and placed with related species to reveal the evolution and diversity of the ceratopsian dinosaur group.
Other attractions include Quetzalcoatlus, a huge toothless pterosaur with a 40-foot wingspan, posed in flight; a nest of dinosaur eggs; and the meat-eatingAllosaurus challenging the vegetable-eating Stegosaurus.
Local Discoveries: Case: Dinosaurs in Our Backyard (opened April 28, 2010): From 225 to 65 million years ago, dinosaurs lived everywhere on Earth -- including around Washington, D.C. This case explores how scientists piece together information about dinosaur biology, ecology, and evolution from fossil specimens and reveals the important contributions amateur collectors make to the museum's collections and knowledge. It features a unique skeleton impression of a baby dinosaur of a species new to science.
The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins: What Does It Mean To Be Human?
1st Floor, Northwest Wing (Halls 11 & 12)
This major exhibition hall focuses on the story of human origins and probes the ecological and genetic connections that human beings have had with the natural world over time. It examines the shared framework of humankind -- the biological and cultural history we all share -- as well as the differences that exist and preoccupy us today.
- An amphitheater show featuring One Species Living Worldwide
- "Changing the World," a special gallery where visitors can address pressing questions and issues surrounding climate change and humans' impact on the Earth
- Interactive snapshots in time using the actual field site where research is being conducted
- An interactive human family tree showcasing 6 million years of evolutionary evidence from around the world
- A time tunnel depicting life and environments over the past 6 million years
Related catalogue: What Does It Mean To Be Human, by Rick Potts: $24.95 (paper)
Related mobile app for iPhone and Android: MEanderthal
The museum marked its 100th anniversary on the National Mall with the opening of this new exhibition hall on the same date when the museum opened to the public: March 17, 1910.
Insect Zoo, O. Orkin
2nd Floor, West Wing
The Insect Zoo focuses on insects and their relationships with plants, animals, and humans. The exhibition contains a section about the evolution of insects and showcases live insects and their environments, including:
• The Termites' Turf
• Water-loving Bugs
• Familiar Insects
• The Bee Hive
• Desert Dwellers
• Rain Forests--Home to Millions
Written in Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th-Century Chesapeake
Now - January 6, 2014
2nd Floor, Northwest
This exhibition features archaeological discoveries that reveal the historic importance of Jamestown and its contribution to the American way of life. The exhibition addresses such subjects as life and death in the colonies, activity and physical labor, health and disease, dietary resources, internal strife, and inter-population relationships and includes the stories of all peoples affected by the colonization of North America -- Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans -- and their role in the formation and function of the first permanent settlements and capitals of Maryland and Virginia.
Catalogue: $34.95 (paper)
Children's book: $22.95
Kenneth E. Behring Family Rotunda, 1st Floor & Balcony, 2nd Floor
The museum's 8-ton, 14-foot-tall African elephant is in a setting that re-creates the Angolan bush. The diorama also introduces important ideas in botany, entomology, mineral sciences, and zoology, as well as information on the ancestors of modern-day elephants and the elephants' importance in African cultures.
The Elephant's World -- located on the Rotunda Balcony, second floor -- includes interactive Elephant Discovery Stations that provide additional information on elephants and their habitat and is made up of the following two sections: Fossil Elephants and Elephants in Art.
Videos (run continuously; in Rotunda and on Balcony)
Interactive Learning Stations (Balcony)
Birds of the District of Columbia
Ground Floor, East Ambulatory
Year-round and seasonal residents, migrants and vagrants--hundreds of bird species--are displayed. They all live in the region extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Allegheny Mountains. Learn where and when to look for a snowy owl or ruffed grouse, warbling vireo or orange-crowned warbler, chickadee or indigo bunting.
Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution
2nd Floor, Southwest Wing, near Insect Zoo
This exhibition shows how butterflies have evolved, adapted, and diversified with their plant partners over millions of years. Housed within this exhibition is a special Butterfly Pavilion, which looks like a cocoon, where visitors can walk among hundreds of live butterflies and pesticide-free plants to observe butterfly behaviors ranging from flying and sipping nectar at flowers to roosting and emerging from chrysalides. These butterflies hatch from pupae raised on farms in Africa, Asia, and North and South America.
- To maintain an environment conducive for butterflies, the temperature inside the Pavilion is 80-85 degrees with high humidity.
- For operating hours, visit the Web
- For ticketing information, visit the Web
- Photography permitted
- Wheelchairs permitted in Pavilion, but no strollers allowed.
African Cultures Hall, 1st Floor, Northeast Wing
This exhibition examines the diversity, dynamism, and global influence of Africa's peoples and cultures over time in the realms of family, work, community, and the natural environment. Included are historical and contemporary objects from the museum's collections, as well as commissioned sculptures, textiles, and pottery. Video interactives and sound stations provide selections from contemporary interviews, literature, proverbs, prayers, folk tales, songs, and oral epics.
- Wealth in Africa demonstrates how exchanges of objects build relationships between people; objects include an iron blade, a king's carved staff, a bridal veil, and a modern designer coffin (airplane).
- Market Crossroads re-creates the hustle and bustle of the downtown market in Accra, Ghana, and features a yam vendor, a kola-nut vendor, a cloth vendor, and a vendor of house wares.
- Working in Africa explores different types of work and how work is valued through ceremony and art.
- Living in Africa features an aqal (a portable Somali home) and a carved wood door from Zanzibar.
- Kongo Crossroads displays objects of reverence and remembrance used to honor ancestors, including Kongo power figures, Christian crosses, and grave memorials.
- Global Africa addresses the forced versus voluntary migrations of African peoples and includes the diaspora in America and Freedom Theater.
- History Pathway features displays of historical moments to create a walk through the millennia, including the pharaohs of ancient Nubia and the election of Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa in 1994.
- Focus Gallery houses the temporary exhibitions (see separate listings).
Freedom Theater (two 15-minute videos run continuously)
Welcome to the National Museum of Natural History
Ground Floor, Constitution Ave. Lobby
The museum welcomes visitors with display of the following objects from its collection:
- Easter Island Head: Also called a Moai, this ancestor sculpture is from Easter Island in the South Pacific (located on the southeast wall).
- Totem Poles, Northwest Coast: The three Northwest Coast totem poles are from the Haida and Tsimshian tribes of British Columbia. The display includes an ongoing video about these tribes (located near the east stairwell of the lobby).
- Yap Money: This large stone disk or coin was used as money on the Yap islands in Micronesia in the western Pacific Ocean (located on the ground floor near the entrance to the main Museum Store).
Outdoor Sculptures, including Sculptures from Nature
Near Constitution Ave. and Madison Dr. entrances
Near Constitution Avenue entrance:
• Colossal Head: This replica of Olmec Colossal Head No.4 from San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan in Veracruz, Mexico, was sculpted by Ignacio Perez Solano of Veracruz (installed Oct. 19, 2001).
Near Madison Drive entrance:
• Sculpture from Nature: Banded Iron Ore Boulder: On one plinth is a banded iron ore boulder, 7 x 5 feet in size and approximately 2.25 billion years old. One side is cut and polished. The boulder is from Ishpeming, Michigan (installed March 16, 1985).
• Sculptures from Nature: Petrified Logs: On the other plinth are two petrified logs, each 8 feet long x 3 feet in diameter and over 180 million years old. One end of each log is cut and polished. The logs are from Holbrook, Arizona (installed March 16, 1985).
• Triceratops Head: This bronze statue is a replica of the head of the Triceratops on view in Dinosaurs Hall (installed July 19, 2001).
Early Life: Earliest Traces of Life
1st Floor, East Wing, near Dinosaurs Hall
An overview of the origin and early evolution of life is presented. Included is the oldest fossil, a cabbage-sized, 3.5-billion-year-old fossil algal mat, as well as the earliest animal fossils, to relate a large portion of the earth's history known as the Precambrian.
Ice Age: Ice Age Mammals and the Emergence of Man
1st Floor, East Wing
This hall provides a glimpse of the Ice Age, one of the most extraordinary times in earth's history. Mounted skeletons of some of the largest Ice Age mammals dominate the hall: a towering giant ground sloth, a woolly mammoth, an Irish elk, a long-tusked American mastodon, a saber-toothed cat, the mummified remains of a big horned bison, and dozens of other Ice Age animals are displayed. At the northeast entrance is a life-sized diorama of a reconstructed Neanderthal burial site depicting a Neanderthal family burying a young man in a shallow grave, along with tools and food; the reconstructed diorama is based on a 70,000-year-old site found in the Regourdou cave in Dordogne, France.
2nd Floor, Center, North Corridor
To celebrate the country's distinctive art, culture, and 2,600-year history, on view are some 85 objects, including Korean ceramics, wooden furniture, stone and wooden sculptures, paintings, and textiles.
The exhibition is divided into the following thematic sections:
- Korean Ceramics: A Tradition of Excellence
- Honoring Family
- The Korean Wedding
- Hangeul: Symbol of Pride, exploring Korean calligraphy and the Korean writing system
- Landscapes of Korea, exploring the country's natural history and built landscape
- Korea Beyond Borders, exploring the cultural identity of Koreans and their descendants living around the world
- Contemporary Korean Art, illustrating that modern Korea finds inspiration in the rich traditions of its past
Mammals, Kenneth E. Behring Family Hall of
1st Floor, West Wing
This hall showcases some 274 mammals and explores their diversity and how they originated and adapted to changing landscapes and environments over the last 225 million years -- from polar to desert regions and from dry to humid environments. The exhibition addresses such questions as: What is a mammal? Why do some mammals live in groups while others live alone? How many kinds of mammals are there and what are their habitat preferences? How are mammals related? How and why do scientists study mammals? The exhibition also shares information about the unusual -- the oddest specimens (including egg-laying mammals), the rarest specimens (an okapi from Africa), and the oldest known mammal (Morganucadon) from 210 million years ago.
- various habitats: Africa, North America, South America, and Australia
- an Evolution Theater with an 8-minute film. Seated on a bench in the theater is a bronze sculpture of a chimpanzee named Harriet.
- Discovery areas that include computer interactives, touchable objects, and educational question-and-answer stations for families
- A small area in the South America section highlights the work of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and the history and background of Barro Colorado Island, Panama, where STRI scientists do research.
Related book: $75 (cloth)
Satellite Museum Store
Fossils Galore: A Grand Opening
1st Floor, East Wing, Entrance to Dinosaurs Hall
Soft-bodied and hard-shelled animals, tall sponges, and algae offer a rare glimpse into the earliest explosion of animal life more than 500 million years ago. This plethora of weird wonders was reconstructed based on fossils preserved in the rocks of the Burgess Shale. In 1909, Charles Wolcott, fourth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, discovered the Burgess Shale fossil deposit in British Columbia, Canada. The museum houses more than 65,000 Burgess Shale fossils, many of which are still intensively studied by scientists around the world. Dozens are on display.
National Museum of the American Indian
The National Museum of the American Indian is home to one of the largest and most diverse collections of American Indian art and cultural objects in the world.
"Mitsitam" means "let's eat!" in the Native language of the Delaware and Piscataway peoples. The museum's Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe enhances the museum experience by offering Native-inspired cuisines from five regions of the Western Hemisphere including the Northern Woodlands, South America, the Northwest Coast, Meso America and the Great Plains.
Menu includes tamales, roasted turkey, grilled salmon, homemade seasonal soups, buffalo burgers, Indian fry bread, and a seasonal variety of aqua fresca.
Discount for Smithsonian members
Group dining packages available
Hours: Daily 10a.m.-5p.m.
Ceramica de los Ancestros: Central America's Past Revealed
Now - February 1, 2015
W. Richard West Jr. Contemporary Arts/3M Gallery, 3rd Level
This bilingual (English/Spanish) exhibition illuminates Central America’s diverse and dynamic ancestral heritage with a selection of more than 160 objects. For thousands of years, Central America has been home to vibrant civilizations, each with unique, sophisticated ways of life, value systems, and arts. The ceramics these peoples left behind, combined with recent archaeological discoveries, help tell the stories of these dynamic cultures and their achievements. Cerámica de los Ancestros examines seven regions representing distinct Central American cultural areas that are today part of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Spanning the period from 1000 BC to the present, the ceramics featured are augmented with significant examples of work in gold, jade, shell, and stone. These objects illustrate the richness, complexity, and dynamic qualities of the Central American civilizations that were connected to peoples in South America, Mesoamerica, and the Caribbean through social and trade networks sharing knowledge, technology, artworks, and systems of status and political organization.
Grand Procession: Dolls from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection
Now - January 5, 2014
Sealaska Gallery, 2nd Level
Grand Procession celebrates Native identity through 23 colorful and meticulously detailed objects that are much more than dolls. Traditionally made by female relatives using buffalo hair, hide, porcupine quills, and shells, such figures have long served as both toys and teaching tools for American Indian communities. Outfitted in intricate regalia, these dolls represent Plains and Plateau tribes and the work of five artists: Rhonda Holy Bear (Cheyenne River Lakota), Joyce Growing Thunder (Assiniboine/Sioux), Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty (Assiniboine/Sioux), Jessa Rae Growing Thunder (Assiniboine/Sioux), and Jamie Okuma (Luiseño and Shoshone-Bannock). Their superb craftsmanship and attention to detail imbue these figures with a remarkable presence and power, turning a centuries-old tradition into a contemporary art form. Objects on loan from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection.
As We Grow: Traditions, Toys, Games
3rd Level, near ImagiNATIONS Activity Center
All children play. Native American children play like any others—competing in ball games, dressing up dolls, playing in the snow. But Native children’s toys and games are more than playthings. They are ways of learning about the lives of grown men and women. They are ways of learning the traditions of our families and our people. The toys, games, and clothing in these cases come from all over North, Central, and South America, representing many tribes and many time periods.
Our Peoples: Giving Voice to Our Histories
This exhibition discusses events that shaped the lives and outlook of Native peoples from 1491 to the present. The first part of the exhibition reveals the forces that affected the lives of Native peoples; it shows how Native peoples have struggled to maintain traditions in the face of adversity, and explains why so little of this history is familiar. The second area consists of eight small galleries that recount the histories of individual tribes: Blackfeet (Montana), Chiricahua Apache (New Mexico), Kiowa (Oklahoma), Tohono O'odham (Arizona), Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation (North Carolina), Nahua (Mexico), Ka'apor (Brazil), and Wixarikari -- sometimes known as Huichol -- (Mexico). The exhibition also includes a "wall of gold" featuring over 400 gold figurines, dating back to 1490, along with European swords, coins, and crosses made from melted gold.
Indoor Sculptures: Tsimshian Totem Pole and Sacred Rain Arrow
1st Level, Potomac Atrium, and 3rd Level, near Our Lives
- Sacred Rain Arrow (1988, 94" x 58"): Allan Houser's (Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache) bronze sculpture represents the legend of a young Apache warrior selected in times of drought to shoot a sacred arrow to the heavens carrying his people's prayer for rain to the Spirit World. Third Level, near entrance to Our Lives.
- Tsimshian Totem Pole (2012): David Boxley’s (Tsimshian) 22-foot-tall cedar totem pole depicts the legend of Eagle and Young Chief: A young boy frees an eagle from a fishing net. Years later, after the boy has become chief, the eagle returns the favor by providing fish when the chief’s village faces starvation. First Level, Potomac Atrium (installed January 14, 2012; Permanent)
• We Were Always Here: September 21, 2012-Indefinitely:
On view on the northwest landscape is Rick Bartow's (Wiyot/Mad River Band) sculpture that features Bear and Raven, Healer and Rascal.
• Buffalo Dancer II: 2010-Indefinitely:
On view outside the main entrance to the museum is George Rivera's (Pueblo of Pojoaque) 12-foot, 2-ton bronze sculpture depicting a Buffalo dancer who performs during a celebration of thanksgiving.
• Always Becoming: September 21, 2007-Indefinitely:
On view outside near the Maryland Ave. entrance to the museum is a family of five sculptures hand-built by artist Nora Naranjo-Morse (Santa Clara Pueblo, Espanola, N.M.), winner of the museum's outdoor sculpture design competition. Based on aboriginal architecture and made of organic, nontoxic materials -- dirt, straw, sand, clay, wood, and moss -- the tipi-like forms are from 6 to 15 feet tall and 3 to 4 inches deep. Each will take on a life of its own as the elements of nature slowly erode the organic materials over time, thus the name Always Becoming. Nora Naranjo-Morse is the first Native American woman to create an outdoor sculpture in Washington, D.C.
Orientation Exhibition Cases
Potomac Atrium, 1st Level, South Wall
These eight introductory exhibition cases cover the following topics:
- Our Place in the Universe
- Native Identities
- Contact and Confrontation
- Challenges and Solutions
- Achievements and Contributions
- Learning More
Return to a Native Place: Algonquian Peoples of Chesapeake
Through photographs, maps, ceremonial and everyday objects, and interactives, this small display provides an overview of the history of the Native peoples of the Chesapeake Bay region (what is now Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.) from the 1600s to the present day. The Native people of this region include the Nanticoke, Powhatan, and Piscataway tribes.
National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center
Opened in October 1994, the George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian, at the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in lower Manhattan, serves as the National Museum of the American Indian's exhibition and education facility in New York City.
C.Maxx Stevens: House of Memory
Now - June 16, 2013
2nd Floor, East Gallery
C.Maxx Stevens (Seminole/Muscogee) is a visual storyteller whose deeply personal, eclectic constructions tell stories about places and people from her past. Working with “found objects” and such ephemeral materials as paper, wood, and hair, she creates art that has a dark, gritty quality that is both haunting and familiar. The 19 works selected for this solo exhibition -- sculpture, installation, and prints -- illustrate the complexities of the contemporary Native experience and address memory through cultural and personal symbols.
Circle of Dance
Now - October 8, 2017
1st Floor, Diker Pavilion for Native Arts & Cultures
Music and dance have always been essential to the spiritual, cultural, and social lives of Native people, and unique forms of ritual, ceremonial, and social dancing remain a vital part of contemporary community life. Featuring 10 social and ceremonial dances from throughout the Americas, this exhibition illuminates the significance of each dance and highlights the unique characteristics of its movements and music. Each dance is represented by a single mannequin, dressed in appropriate regalia and posed in a distinctive dance position, and a video component capturing the movements and music integral to each performance.
Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians in Popular Culture
Now - August 11, 2013
This banner exhibition highlights Native people who have been active participants in contemporary music for nearly a century. Musicians like Russell "Big Chief" Moore (Gila River Indian Community), Rita Coolidge (Cherokee), Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree), and the group Redbone are a few of the Native performing artists who have had successful careers in popular music. Many have been involved in each form of popular music -- from jazz and blues to folk, country, and rock. In this exhibition their stories will be told, along with the history behind them. Visitors can hear samples of these music greats and find out with whom they collaborated, learn by whom they were inspired, and consider contemporary artists whom they influenced. Highlights include Jimi Hendrix's (Cherokee) colorful patchwork full-length leather coat.
Video (runs continuously)
Hand-held devices with music clips by each of the featured musicians
Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian
This exhibition of some 700 works of Native art from throughout North, Central, and South America demonstrates the breadth of the museum's renowned collection and highlight the historic importance of many of these iconic objects.
Chosen to illustrate the geographic and chronological scope of the museum's collection, Infinity of Nations opens with a display of headdresses. Signifying the sovereignty of Native nations, these works include a magnificent Kayapo krok-krok-ti, a macaw-and-heron-feather ceremonial headdress.
Focal-point objects, representing each region, include an Apsaalooke (Crow) robe illustrated with warriors' exploits; a detailed Mayan limestone bas relief depicting a ball player; an elaborately beaded Inuit tuilli, or woman's inner parka, made for the mother of a newborn baby; a Mapuche kultrung, or hand drum, depicting the cosmos; a carved and painted chief's headdress, depicting a killer whale with a raven emerging from its back, created and worn by Willie Seaweed (Kwakwaka'wakw); an anthropomorphic Shipibo joni chomo, or water vessel from Peru; a Chumash basket decorated with a Spanish-coin motif; an ancient mortar from Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon, N.M.; a gourd carved with a detailed picture of the Battle of Arica by Mariano Flores Kananga (Quechua); and an early Anishinaabe man's outfit complete with headdress, leggings, shirt, sash, and jewelry. The exhibition concludes with works by Native artists including Allan Houser (Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache) and Rick Bartow (Mad River Wiyot).
National Portrait Gallery
The Donald W. Reynolds Center is home to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery
Featuring soups, sandwiches, salads, antipasti, desserts, ice cream, coffee, beer, wine, and soft drinks.
Daily, 11:30 AM-4 PM: See menu above
Daily, 4 PM-6:30 PM: Limited selection of menu above
Portico Cafe (seasonal and weather permitting)
Features pastries, sandwiches, specialty coffees and beverages. Wine, beer and cocktails are available in late afternoon and evening hours.
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Outdoor Sculptures: Daguerre Memorial
Outdoors, on the 7th Street side of the building
Daguerre Memorial (1890): This bronze and marble statue by Jonathan Scott Hartley (1845-1912) features a small relief bust of Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre in front of a large globe on top of a curved pedestal base. A female figure of Fame frames his face with a laurel garland, while another garland encircles a globe to exemplify the universality of photography. On loan from the National Museum of American History.
Mr. TIME: Portraits by Boris Chaliapin
Now - January 5, 2014
2nd Floor, North Corridor
On view are 26 portraits by artist Boris Chaliapin, most of which appeared on Time magazine's cover during his 28-year career. Chaliapin was the portrait artist Time magazine’s editors turned to first when they needed a cover in a hurry. As Time’s most prolific artist, he created 413 covers for the publication. He could execute excellent likenesses in as little as 12 hours; record speed for the years between 1942 and 1970, when he was with the magazine. Week after week, millions of faithful readers recognized Chaliapin’s familiar signature on the cover, and his coworkers aptly nicknamed him “Mr. TIME.”
Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2013
Now - February 23, 2014
The National Portrait Gallery presents 48 of the finalists' works that were selected from the third triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. The works were produced by artists across the nation and include portraits in such traditional media as oil paintings, drawings, and photographs, as well as more surprising materials such as rice, glitter, thread, and video. The winner of the competition receives the grand prize of $25,000 and an opportunity to create a portrait for the Portrait Gallery's permanent collection. The competition invited professional artists age 18 and over working in the figurative arts to submit portraits completed after January 1, 2010. The public had the opportunity to vote for its favorite work among the finalists to receive the People's Choice Award.
The two winning portraits from the National Portrait Gallery's first Teen Portrait Competition—by McNeel Mann (age 14) of Alaska and Allen Chiu (age 17) from California—are on view near the exhibition entrance.
Related publication: $14.95
Mobile app: www.npg.si.edu/app/
Bound for Freedom's Light: African Americans and the Civil War
Now - March 2, 2014
1st Floor, East
Drawing principally from images in the museum's collection, this exhibition explores the roles individual African Americans played during the Civil War and focuses attention on the impact of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Among the featured stories are those of Frederick Douglass; Martin Delaney; Sojourner Truth; and Gordon, who escaped from enslavement on a Louisiana plantation to join a black regiment and fight for the Union.
Ambrotypes from the National Portrait Gallery
Now - June 2, 2013
1st Floor, East Wing
In the mid-1850s American photographers, ranging from the celebrated Mathew Brady to the little-known itinerant L.W.F. Mark, embraced a new photographic medium known as the ambrotype. Taking its name from the Greek word ambrotos (meaning immortal or imperishable), an ambrotype was created when an underexposed collodion negative on glass was made to appear as a positive image by placing it against a dark backing. Drawn exclusively from the museum's collection, this exhibition includes ambrotypes of abolitionists Frederick Douglass and Anna Dickinson, as well as West Point classmates George Armstrong Custer and John Pelham, who later served as generals for opposing sides of the Civil War.
Portraiture Now: Drawing on the Edge
Now - August 18, 2013
1st Floor, Northeast
Artists Mequitta Ahuja, Mary Borgman, Adam Chapman, Ben Durham, Till Freiwald, and Rob Matthews expand the narrow boundaries that once defined drawing and portraiture. Probing the intersection between drawing and photography, painting, video, textual writing, and computer technology, all six artists show a commitment to direct, immediate, highly personal mark-making. Each of them employs a painstaking technique; their meticulous, repetitive actions result in a contemplative, almost meditative, engagement with process that adds a psychological depth to their work.
Now - October 27, 2013
1st Floor, North
On view are works recently aquired by the museum, including paintings of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Adolph Ochs; a bronze of Ethel Waters; photographs of Marjorie Merriweather Post, Mary Pickford, and Muhammad Ali; and prints of George Washington and Samuel Adams.
A commissioned portrait of General Colin Powell by artist Ron Sherr goes on view outside the exhibition entrance on December 3, 2012.
One Life: Amelia Earhart
Now - May 27, 2013
1st Floor, East
Amelia Earhart achieved international celebrity status as the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean in an airplane in 1928. Timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of her disappearance in 1937, this one-room exhibition tells the story of her remarkable life and career, focusing particular attention on her role in breaking barriers for women. On view is a selection of portraits in all artistic media, along with rare vintage film and audio excerpts.
A Will of Their Own: Judith Sargent Murray and Women of Achievement in the Early Republic
Now - September 2, 2013
1st Floor, East Wing, Alcove in American Origins
Judith Murray (c. 1769) by John Singleton Copley and seven additional portraits of prominent American women from the late 18th century are on view to showcase both the important achievements of women during this period and the early efforts to gain gender equality in America. Judith Murray is on loan from the Terra Foundation for American Art (TFAA),
Mathew Brady's Photographs of Union Generals
Now - May 31, 2015
1st Floor, North
Although Mathew Brady may be best known for his photographic documentation of the Civil War, his New York and Washington galleries also did a brisk business throughout the conflict by producing studio portraits of the ever-changing roster of Union army generals. Featuring modern albumen prints made from the original Brady negatives in the museum's Frederick Hill Meserve Collection, this installation includes portraits of many of the North’s military leaders, from George McClellan and Ambrose Burnside to William Tecumseh Sherman and Ulysses Grant.
Bravo! and Champions
3rd Floor, South, Mezzanines
Two exhibitions feature particular themes in American life:
- BRAVO! showcases individuals who have brought the performing arts to life, beginning with P.T. Barnum, who raised the curtain on modern entertainment in the late 19th century and continuing to the present.
- Champions showcases American sports figures whose impact has extended beyond the ring, the court, and the field to become a part of the larger story of the life and culture of our nation.
Note: A lively combination of portraits, artifacts, memorabilia, and videos enhances both exhibitions.
The Struggle for Justice
2nd Floor, West
This permanent exhibition showcases major cultural and political figures -- from key 19th-century historical figures to contemporary leaders -- who struggled to achieve civil rights for disenfranchised or marginalized groups. On view are more than 40 photographs, paintings, posters, buttons, and sculptures, including portraits of Civil Rights leaders Frederick Douglass, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr., and Andrew Young; women's-rights advocates Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Betty Friedan; Native American activist Leonard Crow Dog; cultural icons Jackie Robinson and singer Marian Anderson; United Farm Workers organizer César Chávez; gay and lesbian rights leaders; Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver; and Japanese American activist Fred T. Korematsu.
A video created exclusively for the exhibition and narrated by Soledad O'Brien is also featured.
Renovating a Landmark: From Patent Office to Reynolds Center
Historic Fabric Room, 1st Floor, near lockers
This small exhibition commemorates the opening of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard, the final phase of a major renovation of the National Historic Landmark building that houses the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. It highlights aspects of the renovation with photographs, architectural artifacts from the building, and objects discovered during the excavation of the courtyard. Also included are historic images of the building, a 7-foot segment of one of the 19th-century cast iron fountains from the courtyard, and an architect's model of the building.
Related publication: Temple of Invention: History of a National Landmark by Charles Robertson, who is also the guest curator of the exhibition: $19.95 (paper)
Note: This National Historic Landmark building was formerly the Patent Office Building.
Jo Davidson: Biographer in Bronze
2nd Floor, North
On view are 14 bronze and terra-cotta portraits made by renowned American sculptor Jo Davidson between 1908 and 1946, including depictions of Gertrude Stein, Franklin D. Roosevelt, artist John Marin, and Lincoln Steffens.
3rd Floor, South
Four galleries showcase the major cultural and political hallmarks of the 20th century. Paintings, sculpture, photographs, and prints portray those who were at the center of these moments. People from a range of backgrounds -- Jane Addams, Douglas MacArthur, Robert F. Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor, Michael Jackson, Denyce Graves, Marilyn Monroe, Jim Henson, among others -- tell the story of America's 20th century.
Artist Lincoln Schatz's The Network, a video group portrait featuring 89 people (mostly Washington power players), was added December 11, 2012.
American Origins, 1600-1900
1st Floor, West
In 17 galleries and alcoves, this exhibition chronologically arranged starts from the days of contact between Native Americans and European explorers through the struggles of independence to the Gilded Age. Major figures from Pocahontas to Chief Joseph, Sam Adams to Henry Clay, and Nathaniel Hawthorne to Harriet Beecher Stowe to Juliette Gordon Low are included. Three of the galleries are devoted to the Civil War, examining this conflict in depth. Complementing this section is a group of modern photographic prints produced from Mathew Brady's original negatives. Highlights from its daguerreotype collection -- the earliest practical form of photography -- also are on view.
2nd Floor, South
This exhibition displays multiple images of the 43 presidents of the United States, including the greatest historical painting in our nation's history, Gilbert Stuart's "Lansdowne" portrait of George Washington,and two life masks of Abraham Lincoln. Also included are whimsical sculptures of Presidents Johnson, Carter, and Nixon by caricaturist Pat Oliphant. Five presidents are given expanded attention because of their significant impact on the office: Washington, Andrew Jackson, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Audio interpretive materials augment the exhibition.
The America’s Presidents app is available on the iPad at www.AppStore.com/AmericasPresidents.
National Postal Museum
Don't look for it on the National Mall but on Capitol Hill at the corner of First St. and Massachusetts Ave., NE, just west of Union Station. The building, which was the Washington City Post Office from 1914 to 1986, is big and grand, and the National Postal Museum occupies most of the lower level.
Fire & Ice: Hindenburg and Titanic
Now - January 6, 2014
As the largest, fastest, and most glamorous ships of their eras, the Hindenburg and the Titanic share many similarities. The human tragedy associated with each stunned the world . . . a shock that affects people to this day. Both offered travelers elegant accommodations, and both provided postal services. In each era, the public trusted modern technology to provide safety and speed. And as anniversaries of the disasters are marked in 2012—75 years since Hindenburg burned and 100 since Titanic sank—many questions remain unanswered. Featured are more than 50 objects, including a rare piece of mail sent from the Titanic, keys from the Titanic post office, and burned mail and the salvaged postmark device from the wreckage of the Hindenburg.
Systems at Work
You drop a letter in a mailbox and then what happens? You receive mail at home or the office! But how does it get there? Find out in this exhibition that re-creates the paths of letters, magazines, parcels, and other mail as they travelled from sender to recipient over the last 200 years.
Soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen anxiously awaiting mail delivery is a familiar scene from movies, newsreels, and documentary photographs. Mail call is the moment when the frontline and home front connect. This exhibition tells the history of military mail from the American Revolution to 2010: How does this mail reach its destination? What roles does it play? Why does it influence morale? The exhibition explores the great lengths taken to set up and operate postal services under extraordinary circumstances. It also features letters that reveal the expressions, emotions, and events of the time. On the battlefront and at home, mail provides a vital communication link between military service personnel, their communities, and their loved ones.
Moving the Mail
Faced with the challenge of moving the mail quickly, the postal service looked to trains, automobiles, airplanes, and buses to deliver the mail, all of which are the focus of the museum's 90-foot-high Atrium gallery.
- Mail by Rail: After the Civil War, postal officials began to take advantage of railway trains for moving and sorting the mail. Sorting the mail while it was being carried between towns was a revolutionary approach to mail delivery, involving generations of devoted postal employees who worked as railway mail clerks.
- Owney: Mascot of the Railway Mail Service Owney was a stray mutt who wandered into the Albany, New York, post office in 1888. He began to ride with the bags on trains across the state--and then the country. In 1895 Owney traveled with mailbags on steamships to Asia and across Europe before returning to Albany. He was beloved by Railway Mail Service clerks, who adopted him as their unofficial mascot.
- Networking a Nation: Star Route Service: Some of the most ambitious movers of the mail were not railway mail clerks, aviators, or even postal employees, but were Star Route contractors. Star Routes were established in 1845 when the Postal Service began hiring contractors to use the most appropriate and efficient methods of transportation to carry the mail. The name "Star Routes" came about because postal clerks became weary of writing "Celerity, Certainty, and Security" over and over again in the contract books and began using "***" instead. These routes have been covered by all modes of transportation from stagecoaches, trucks, and planes to less conventional means, such as dog sleds, showshoes, and bare feet. "Star Routes" were renamed "Highway Contract Routes" in 1970, but are still known by their original name today. On view are a 1850s Concord-style stagecoach and a full-size semi truck cab-cutaway.
- On the Road: Motorizing the Mail: This section discusses the evolution of mail vehicles starting with the first tests in 1899 to the present. With the introduction of Parcel Post Service in 1913, these vehicles brought millions of packages into the mail stream for the first time. Despite numerous challenges over the years, motorized mail has undergone numerous improvements to dramatically increase efficiency in delivering the mail. In the early 1980s, after years of study and testing, another generation of postal trucks was introduced -- nicknamed Long Life Vehicles -- which quickly became familiar sights in American neighborhoods. On view are a 1931 Model A Ford Parcel Post truck and a contemporary Long Life Vehicle mail truck.
- Airmail Service in America: Airmail service was the base from which America's commercial aviation industry developed. This section of the exhibition examines this critical role of the postal service and features the airmail service established in 1918 between New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., through the remarkable pioneering flights of pilots Torrey Webb, James Edgerton, H. Paul Culver, and George Boyle. On view are a 1911 Wiseman-Cooke biplane, a 1919 de Havilland DH-4B, and a 1936 Stinson Reliant SR-10.
Honoring Lincoln: Abraham Lincoln Certified Plate Proofs
October 2013 (TBA)
Philatelic Gallery, Lower Level
Eleven certified plate proofs for postage stamps honoring Abraham Lincoln are on view in the Philatelic Gallery pullout frames. Certified plate proofs are the last printed proof of the plate before printing the stamps. These plate proofs are each unique, with the approval signatures and date. Issued from 1894 to 1959, the stamps feature a variety of Lincoln portraits.
Alphabetilately: An Alphabet of Philately
Spring 2012 (TBA)
Jeanette Cantrell Rudy Gallery, Lower Level
This exhibition presents an alphabet of philately through 26 topics, in which each letter stands for some aspect of stamp collecting or the sending of mail. From Advertising Covers to Zeppelins, each topic is introduced by a non-postage stamp image (called a Cinderella), designed by 26 designers in the San Francisco area. The 26 topics and their delightful definitions provide an ideal showcase for displaying both historical and modern items from the museum's collection.
U.S. & International Stamp Galleries, Lower Level
The history of the stamp begins in 1840, when Great Britain issued the first gummed postage stamp. Since then stamps of every subject, shape, and design have been produced for consumer use or as collectibles. Some stamps tell stories while others contain secrets and hidden meanings. This gallery is for all collectors, as well as for those who know little about the renowned hobby of philately.
With over 13 million philatelic objects in the museum's collection, this gallery features the Rarities Vault, the National Stamp Collection (housed in pull-out cases), and changing and rotating exhibitions (see On View). The section More American Stamps, which opened Oct. 12, 1997, features a selection of more than 55,000 American stamp, rotated every six months.
Amelia Earhart's Personal Collection
Philatelic Gallery, Lower Level, Southwest
Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, was an avid stamp and cover collector. On view are key pieces from her collection, including photographs and stamps commemorating her flights. She often flew signed pieces of mail that were then sold to philatelists to support her endeavors.
Binding the Nation
This gallery provides an overview of mail service in America from colonial times through the 19th century, stressing the importance of written communication in the young nation. As early as 1673, regular mail was carried between New York and Boston following Indian trails. That route, once known as the King's Best Highway, is now U.S. Route 1.
Benjamin Franklin, a colonial postmaster for the British government, played a key role in establishing mail service in the colonies, as well as in forging a strong link between colonial publishers and the postal service. Many newspapers that relied heavily on information carried in the mail customarily adopted the word "Post" into their title. Newspapers were so important to the dissemination of information to the people that they were granted cheaper postage rates.
By 1800, mail was carried over more than 9,000 miles of postal roads. The challenge of developing mail service over long distances is the central theme of "The Expanding Nation," which features the famed Pony Express and the Southern Postal Administration of the Civil War. At one interactive video station, visitors can create their own postal route. Another interactive video challenges visitors to move mail bags from Philadelphia to New Orleans in the 1850s without losing any bags in wrecks and bad weather.
Visitors are also invited to walk through a replica of the first post road, peek inside a Colonial mailbag, and climb into a mud wagon replica.
Postal Inspectors: The Silent Service
Binding the Nation, Lower Level, North
This exhibition spotlights the oldest federal law enforcement agency and its role in fighting crime from the earliest days of our nation to the present. Featured objects include the handcuffs used on Ted Kaczynski (the "Unabomber") when he was apprehended, a mail bomb, a Tommy gun, a detonator used in a 1923 train robbery, and a bio-hazard suit.
Hands-on learning activities
Pony Express: Romance vs. Reality
Binding the Nation, Lower Level
The legendary name of the Pony Express calls up thrilling images of horse and rider racing across treacherous terrain. Yet the actual Pony Express lasted for less than two years (April 1860 to October 1861). It owes its enduring fame to the romanticizing of the American West that began in the late 19th century. Pony Express riders have raced through Wild West shows and dime novels, comic books and movies. Pony Express: Romance vs. Reality examines fictional and actual stories from the history of the world's best known mail carriers.
Customers and Communities
By the turn of the 20th century, nearly 10,000 letter carriers worked in over 400 cities. The nation's population was expanding at top speed, and with it, the nation's mail volume and the need for personal mail delivery. This gallery focuses on the modern changes in mail service introduced at the beginning of the 20th century in the following sections:
- Serving the Cities: Crowded cities inspired postal officials to experiment with a variety of mail delivery systems, such as the impressive but ultimately impractical underground pneumatic tubes. Home delivery of mail began in the cities during the Civil War, when postal officials decided it was inhumane to require soldier's families to receive death notices at post office windows.
- Reaching Rural America: As rural Americans watched city residents receive free home delivery, they began to demand equal treatment. This was the start of Rural Free Delivery. Facets of Rural Free Delivery and its important and often heart warming role in the fabric of the nation is explored with photographs, mail vehicles, and a variety of rural mailboxes. A more contentious argument at the turn of the century centered around Parcel Post Service. Because Parcel Post would allow goods to be sent through the mail, individuals would have access to more merchandise, and no longer would rely on local shopkeepers. Parcel Post helped to usher in an era of consumerism by the early 20th century that foreshadowed the massive mechanization and automation of mail and the mail-order industry. Today, mail service is a vital conduit for big business.
National Zoological Park
Come meet the Zoo's more than 2,400 animals. Fascinating creatures, great and small, inhabit our beautiful park's urban oasis in the heart of Washington, DC.
Mane Restaurant on Lion/Tiger Hill
Panda Cafe near the Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat
Express Grill at Panda Plaza
Popstop across from the Small Mammal House (seasonal)
Located throughout the park as are soda, water, and snack vending machines.
Bring Your Own Picnic
Visitors may bring their own food and beverages. Coolers are permitted but not grills or other cooking devices. There are picnic areas throughout the Zoo, available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Gibbon Ridge, situated among tall trees near the Great Apes House, is home to three groups of white-cheeked gibbons -- famous for their wild acrobatics and resounding calls -- and a group of siamangs.
The American Trail provides a new home for seals, sea lions, and brown pelicans in an enriching environment modeled on the central California coast. There are wave machines to keep the water moving, giving the marine mammals a chance to swim within a changing environment. Underwater features in the sea lion pool provide interesting places for the animals to explore.
The exhibition provides a multisensory experience that re-creates the smells, sounds, look, and feel of the California coast and explores the delicate balance between human actions and the health of our coastlines. The exhibit and facilities are constructed using sustainable practices -- in the spirit of the exhibition's conservation messages.
Also on view along the American Trail are bald eagles, gray wolves, North American river otters, beavers, and ravens.
In Invertebrate Exhibit
Living plants, butterflies, and bees are used to explore pollination -- the means of plant reproduction. The evolution, beauty, and mechanics of pollination are examined. The exhibition also includes a 7-foot tall, 3-panel, glass enclosed beehive.
Reptile Discovery Center
The Reptile Discovery Center is an interactive, educational exhibition designed for visitors to explore the biology of reptiles and amphibians. The Center features some 70 species from snakes to frogs to turtles to lizards to crocodiles to Komodo dragons.
Unlike most of the Zoo's other animals, most of the inhabitants of the Reptile Discovery Center won't be found outside during the wintertime. This is because ectothermic (previously referred to as "cold-blooded") creatures rely on the temperature of their surrounding environment to maintain their body temperature; they cannot withstand the cold, wintry weather that endothermic (previously referred to as "warm-blooded") animals can.
Cheetah Conservation Station
Olmsted Walk, past Visitor Center on the left
At the Cheetah Conservation Station, cheetahs can be seen engaged in natural behaviors in a grassland setting similar to their natural savanna habitat -- roaming through their habitat or sunning themselves on the gentle slopes -- giving visitors a chance to closely observe these highly endangered cats.
The Inside Story: Radiography
Small Mammal House
Radiographs and bones on view reveal the relationship between body structure and the behaviour of animals. See these interesting X-rays to learn how animals move, eat, and play. Sections include:
- The Tale of the Tail explores rodent tails.
- The Story of Skulls reveals different structures in animals that bite, gnaw, and slurp.
- Mammal Moves demonstrates how an animal's shape determines how it moves.
- Seeing through Mysteries challenges you to figure out what the images depict!
Olmsted Walk, Reptile House, Lower Level
Invertebrates -- creatures without backbones -- are the most abundant creatures on earth, crawling, flying, floating, or swimming in virtually all of Earth's habitats. About 99% of all known living species are invertebrates. This exhibition is home to such invertebrate species as sea stars; spiny lobsters; sea anemones; corals; insects; spiders, including tarantulas; mollusks; and giant Pacific octopuses named Octavius and Pandora.
• Blue Crab and the Chesapeake Bay
This section higlights the biology and ecology of the blue crab (Callinectes sapidus), focusing on its life cycles and its environment in the Chesapeake Bay. Topics discussed include how blue crabs take advantage of a diversity of habitats in the Bay during different stages of their life cycles, how crab populations reflect the overall health of the Bay -- crab populations decrease as pollution levels increase; and how our everyday actions affect the blue crab and the entire Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.
Olmsted Walk, near Reptile Discovery Center
This exhibition explores the biology and evolution of animal thinking, focusing on primates. It also demonstrates how animals use tools, send sophisticated messages, and employ social strategies. In conjunction with this exhibition is the O-Line, an orangutan transit system for orangutans to travel from the Great Ape House to Think Tank. Beginning April 15, 2011, play tug-of-war with an orang utan or watch the orangs turn a shower on themselves...or on visitors!
Also beginning April 15, 2011, learn about rats up close at a new exhibition inside Think Tank. Watch them run mazes and learn about their amazing biology and behavior.
Animals and plants of the New World are included in this rain forest habitat featuring a re-created microcosm of the world's largest rain forest and the Amazon River. This living tropical forest features more than 350 species of plants, including 50-foot-tall trees, tropical vines, and epiphytes. It is also home to dozens of species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects typical of the Amazon Basin. Giant Amazon fish are a special feature.
• Amazonia Science Gallery
This section showcases biodiversity and the work of Smithsonian scientists. It features a nutrition laboratory, Science On a Sphere, Amphibian Alert! and wildlife toxicology exhibits:
- Science On a Sphere (SOS) uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data onto a six-foot diameter sphere, analogous to a giant animated globe. It provides information on global climate change, weather patterns, animal migration, and many other topics.
- Amphibian Alert! highlights the efforts of Smithsonian scientists to understand and conserve amphibians. The exhibit features 18 species of frogs, and information on threats to the survival of amphibian species around the world due to disease (chytridiomycosis), habitat loss, and other factors.
New Animals at the Zoo
Throughout the Zoo
Visit some of the newest members of the Zoo family:
- A black howler monkey was born December 15, 2012, at the Small Mammal House
- Two Dama gazelles: A male born September 4, 2012, and a female born October 13, 2012
- Roseate spoonbill chicks, born June 2012
- Scarlet ibis chick, born June 2012
- Stanley crane chick, born May 2012
- Two fishing cat kittens, born May 18, 2012
- Two cheetah cubs, born April 23, 2012, at the Zoo's Conservation Biology Institute
- Two Guam rail chicks hatched March 3 and 4, 2012. Guam rails are extremely rare, and the chicks bring the total population of the small, flightless birds to 162.
- A male kiwi chick hatched March 7, 2012. The National Zoo was the first zoo to hatch a kiwi outside of New Zealand in 1975.
- A rhea chick hatched March 8, 2012. Male rheas build the nest, incubate the eggs, and raise the chicks after they hatch. The bird originally comes from South America and can grow to be over five feet tall.
- A wattled crane chick hatched March 16, 2012. In stark contrast to their white-plumaged parents, wattled crane chicks sport yellow downy feathers and very small wattles—flaps of skin that prominently hang beneath the beak of adult birds.
- Sunbittern chicks hatched March 28, 2012. A long-billed bird, the sunbittern has a thin neck and patterned feathers. When threatened, it spreads its wings to display numerous eyespots. With its tail lifted as well, its feathers form a semicircle.
As part of the Zoo's campaign to save Asian elephants, this expanded and transformed home for the Zoo's Asian elephants features a variety of habitats that support the natural behavior of the multi-generational herd. The entire habitat provides more than 4 acres of indoor and outdoor space and has the capacity to accommodate a natural, matriarchal herd and individual bulls -- between 8 and 10 elephants and their young -- with suites for individual elephants.
- Two new outdoor yards, with almost two acres of varied terrain, offer shade structures, heaters, and a pool.
- The Elephant Trek is a quarter-mile walking path to provide the elephants with exercise and foraging opportunities
- A new Elephant Barn with soft flooring replaces the old Elephant House as the primary living space for the Zoo's elephants Kandula (born in 2001), his mother Shanthi, and another female named Ambika.
- The Elephant Community Center (opened March 23, 2013, in the old Elephant House) offers visitors the opportunity to observe the elephants socializing throughout the year and to learn how the Zoo's keepers, vets, scientists, and other animal care staff provide world-class care.
- The Homer and Martha Gudelsky Elephant Outpost, an open courtyard, features interactive exhibits that bring to life the challenges facing Asian elephants in the wild, a range map, three life-size "willow" elephant sculptures, and vistas for viewing the elephants in their outdoor habitats.
This exhibition features Asian animals already living at the Zoo -- sloth bears, fishing cats, Asian small-clawed otters (including an 11-member family group), a Japanese giant salamander, and red pandas -- along with the clouded leopards (returning to the Zoo after several decades). Also featured are the beloved giant pandas (see separate listing).
The Trail incorporates enrichment activities that stimulate the animals' natural behaviors, including fabricated termite mounds where sloth bears can forage for insects, cut-away views of pools where fishing cats can hunt, nest boxes where red pandas can raise their young, and a glass-fronted pool where visitors can observe Asian small-clawed otters underwater. The exhibition also highlights the Zoo's research and conservation work and features the following:
- Decision stations: Here visitors can explore the complex conservation issues facing endangered species through touch-screen, interactive kiosks.
- Curiosity stations: Here visitors can learn about the native habitats of the species that live along the trail through hands-on exhibits.
- Researchers at Work stations: Here visitors can learn about the Zoo's efforts to preserve these animals and their habitats in the wild through videos and graphics.
Giant Panda Habitat, David M. Rubenstein Family
Giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian can be seen in their habitat wrestling in the grass, sleeping in a tree, munching on stalks of bamboo, or lounging in a misty grotto.
Features included in the 2006 renovation/expansion:
- An expanded outdoor area, 4 yards, and 4 dens.
- Conservation Plaza provides information on ongoing efforts to save the pandas and their habitats; it features a large-scale topographic map and interactive touch-screen kiosks.
- Experience Zone includes some of the features of the panda yard, including cooling rocks, a panda grotto, and foggers to mimic the environment in their native habitat.
- Research Center (in the indoor exhibit area) provides information on panda research at the zoo and the panda's life cycle and biology.
- A new Giant Panda Cooperative Research and Breeding Agreement was signed in January 2011, extending the Zoo’s giant panda program for five more years.
- The pandas may be resting indoors during warm-weather months.
Lemur Island (formerly Monkey Island)
This open-air exhibition is home to both ring-tailed (Lemur catta) and red-fronted (Eulemur fulvus rufus) lemurs. These prosimians -- a suborder of primates -- are found only on Madagascar, an island in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa. Today's prosimians retain much of the appearance of the earliest primates. Like many other animal species, wild lemur populations are rapidly declining due to extensive habitat loss.
Near Rock Creek entrance
This child-friendly exhibition reveals that most of the food we eat comes from a farm and allows visitors to lend a hand around the farm.
- A Play Area, featuring an oversize, climb-on pizza that connects familiar pizza ingredients with plants grown on a farm. The pizza garden includes tomatoes, herbs, garlic, onions, green peppers, and wheat. Note: Open weather permitting.
- The Barn gives visitors a view into how animals are housed and cared for.
- Goat and Miniature Donkey Yards, where visitors are able to touch the animals through the fence. The area also includes a Caring Corral, where children are invited inside to help take care of the animals.
- The Cow Pasture, where visitors are able to touch the animals when they approach the fence.
Great Cats: Lions and Tigers
Lion & Tiger Hill and surrounding area
See living, breathing, roaring Sumatran tigers and African lions and learn more about these endangered animals. Here, great cats lounge in the shade under towering scarlet and red oaks and Himalayan pines, hide in the scattered bamboo thickets, rest in the shelter of dens built into the terraced hills, and patrol their territorial boundaries along the edges of the ponds. Features also include:
- Tiger Tracks, an interpretive trail, allows children to compare their weight to those of various cats and to species of prey; play interactive tiger cub games; and examine life-size models of a tiger's skull, tongue, and paws.
- A machan -- an elevated, enclosed platform -- allows visitors to watch the lions and tigers patrol their Zoo territory.
- An area featuring a bronzed Tyrannosaurus rex skull from the Museum of the Rockies.
Explore new graphics and interactives installed summer 2011:
- Graphics interpret aspects of lions’ and tigers’ behavior at the Zoo and in the wild.
- Cat Scan allows visitors to see inside the great cats to learn more about their biology.
- Main Street shows how actions visitors take in their daily lives help conserve these endangered animals.
Outdoor Sculptures: The Gathering, Lions, and Uncle Beazley
Near entrance and within the Zoo
• The Gathering: A group of 7 life-size chimpanzee sculptures by Maryland artist Brad Walker was installed in a garden near Think Tank June 18, 2002. Each sculpture depicts a chimpanzee fulfilling a different social role within the troup: matriarch, servant, observer, alpha, ally, explorer, and youth.
• The Taft Bridge Lion Sculptures: The original two lion sculptures -- cast in concrete -- that graced the Taft Bridge, south of the Zoo on Connecticut Ave., were created in 1906 by Roland Perry. After 90 years of being exposed to the elements, they were recast in concrete and covered in bronze -- one-third scale of the original lions -- by artist Reinaldo Lopez-Carrizo and were unveiled Nov. 19, 2002.
• Uncle Beazley: Uncle Beazley, the 25-foot-long fiberglass replica of a Triceratops, returned to view in a "dinosaur garden" near Lemur Islandon May 23, 2007. He had resided at the Elephant House since June 18, 1994, but was off view for several years. Before coming to the Zoo, Uncle Beasley inhabited the Mall outside the Natural History Museum. This statue of Uncle Beazley was designed by Louis Paul Jonas for a television show based on the book The Enormous Egg; the show was filmed in part at the National Zoo.
The Renwick Gallery, a branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, is dedicated to exhibiting American crafts from the 19th to the 21st centuries.
Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color
Now - July 28, 2013
Special Exhibitions Gallery, 1st Floor
This exhibition fully examines the extraordinary career of Thomas Day (1801-about 1861), a free African American who owned and operated one of North Carolina’s most successful cabinet shops prior to the Civil War. On view are 37 pieces of his furniture and photographs of his architectural work. Day's surviving furniture and architectural woodwork still represent the finest of 19th-century craftsmanship and aesthetics. The exhibition also includes 3 period quilts from the museum's collection, a Bible owned by Day, historic photographs, and contemporary photographs of architectural interiors he designed.
Related book: $42
Craft Galleries, 2nd Floor
The permanent collection of the Renwick Gallery, a branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, features contemporary American crafts in glass, ceramics, metal, wood, and fiber. Highlights include:
- Reclining Dress Impression with Drapery (2009) by Karen LaMonte (b. 1967) (Octagon Room)
- Portal Gates (1974) by Albert Paley (b. 1944)
- Game Fish (1988) by Larry Fuente (b. 1947)
- Bureau of Bureaucracy by Kim Schmahmann (a cabinet sculpture described by the artist as a "contemporary cabinet of curiosities")
- Ghost Clock by Wendell Castle
- The Renwick 30th Anniversary Plate by Irma Starr
2nd Floor, South
The Octagon Room is furnished with paintings from SAAM's collection, including impressionism and the Gilded Age period.
Grand Salon Installation: Paintings from the Smithsonian American Art Museum
Grand Salon, 2nd Floor
On view are 70 paintings from the 1840s to the 1930s—landscapes, portraits, and allegorical works—by 51 American artists, including Edward Mitchell Bannister, Romaine Brooks, Elliott Daingerfield, Daniel Garber, William Morris Hunt, George Inness, Homer Dodge Martin, Albert Pinkham Ryder, Abbott Handerson Thayer, John Henry Twachtman, and Irving R. Wiles. The room is installed salon style, with paintings hung one-atop-another and side by side.
Visitor Guide featuring short biographies of the artists: $16.95
S. Dillon Ripley Center, International Gallery
Entered from a copper domed kiosk on Jefferson Drive between the "Castle" and the Freer Gallery of Art, the S. Dillon Ripley Center houses the International Gallery, The Smithsonian Associates and the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service.
Graphic Eloquence: Limited-Edition Prints from "The Smithsonian Associates Art Collectors Program"
Concourse, Sublevel 3, near escalators
On view are limited-edition works on paper created by American artists -- including Sean Scully, Janet Fish, Wolf Kahn, and Elizabeth Catlett -- for the Art Collectors Program, which began in the early 1970's. The works are commissioned annually by the Art Collectors Program and many now hang in the permanent collections of national museums.
These and other prints, which are signed and numbered by the artists, are available for purchase. The sale of these works support the educational programs produced by The Smithsonian Associates (TSA).
Concourse, Sublevel 3, in alcoves between elevator and escalator
Two large cases contain approximately 80 one-of-a-kind posy holders made of precious metals and semi-precious stones, donated by Frances Jones Poetker.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Donald W. Reynolds Center is home to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery
Featuring soups, sandwiches, salads, antipasti, desserts, ice cream, coffee, beer, wine, and soft drinks.
Daily, 11:30 AM-4 PM: See menu above
Daily, 4 PM-6:30 PM: Limited selection of menu above
Portico Cafe (seasonal and weather permitting)
Features pastries, sandwiches, specialty coffees and beverages. Wine, beer and cocktails are available in late afternoon and evening hours.
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Pictures in the Parlor
Now - June 30, 2013
2nd Floor, South
More than 50 objects -- painted tintypes, hand-colored photographs, and folios from a Victorian collage album -- reveal how decorative images from the mid-19th century through the early 20th century were used in domestic interiors. Photography was introduced to the United States in the 1840s, democratizing home décor by allowing more families to display art. The parlor became the center of middle-class domestic life, a place where pictures that reflected a family’s aesthetics, status, and history were prominently displayed.
Nam June Paik: Global Visionary
Now - August 11, 2013
3rd Floor, North
This exhibition -- the first in a series of exhibitions to be drawn from the Nam June Paik Estate Archive -- offers an unprecedented view into the artist's creative method. It presents artworks and documentary materials from the archive to examine Paik's creative process and to tell the story of his groundbreaking ideas. On view are key artworks in the museum's collection, including Zen for TV (1963/1976), and Technology (1991), and Megatron Matrix, as well as works on loan from public and private collections.
Art Since 1945
3rd Floor, North
On view is modern and contemporary art, including works from Color Field, Abstract Expressionism, and Pop Art and 20th-century paintings by such artists as Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Helen Frankenthaler.
Related book: America's Art: $65 (cloth), $45 (paper)
Luce Foundation Center for American Art
3rd & 4th Floors and 3rd Floor Mezzanine, West
The Luce Foundation Center for American Art is the first visible art storage and study center in Washington that showcases more than 3,000 artworks from the museum's permanent collection: paintings densely hung on screens; sculptures, contemporary crafts, and art objects arranged on shelves; and portrait miniatures, bronze medals, and contemporary jewelry in drawers that slide open with the touch of a button. The space allows the museum to display five times the number of paintings and sculptures on public view.
- selected objects from the Rosenak Collection of American Folk Art
- a selection of Presidential Inaugural medals
- in-depth collections of paintings by the African American modernist William H. Johnson
- paintings by 19th-century artists Albert Pinkham Ryder and Henry Ossawa Tanner
- John Gellatly's European collection of decorative arts
Preamble by Mike Wilkins
1st Floor, North, near Museum Store
See how artist Mike Wilkins (b. 1959) used 51 "vanity" license plates -- arranged alphabetically by state and including the District of Columbia -- to phonetically spell out the preamble to the Constitution of the United States.
With Liberty: Folk Art from the Smithsonian American Art Museum
1st Floor, West
These galleries serve as a reminder that not all artists are formally trained, and that the making of art is as much an act of passion as of intellect. Artists represented range from Thorton Dial Sr. to Mr. Imagination to Malcah Zeldis.
- James Hampton's The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly (1950-64), a visionary work made from salvaged materials covered in gold and silver foil.
- Selected objects from the Rosenak Collection of American Folk Art
Related book: America's Art: $65 (cloth), $45 (paper)
Inventing a Better Mousetrap: Patent Models from the Rothschild Collection
Now - November 3, 2013
Allan J. and Reda R. Riley Gallery, 2nd Floor, South
Thirty-two models illustrate the variety of 19th-century patented inventions submitted by inventors from across the United States. All of the models on view were originally displayed in large cases in the grand galleries on the third floor of the building, which originally housed the Patent Office. Nineteenth-century American patent law required the submission and public display of a model with each patent application; these scale models in miniature illustrate not only the imaginative fervor of the era but also the amazing craftsmanship required to fabricate these often intricate works of art.
The models are grouped by category, including domestic life, leisure, agriculture, and machinery; they are complemented by drawings, illustrations, a rare early patent signed by George Washington, and a full-scale model of a "better" mousetrap -- with questions about its advantages over more conventional mousetraps. The installation also includes a case of "mystery models," each accompanied by a clue, which allows visitors to guess their purpose.
Watch This! New Directions in the Art of the Moving Image
3rd Floor, North
In this rotating gallery dedicated to the media arts, the museum takes stock of the cutting-edge tools and materials used by video artists during the past 50 years. This installation features key artworks from the history of video art and works by a new generation of artists on the cutting edge of new media art practices.
The following works are on view:
- John Baldessari, Six Colorful Inside Jobs (1977)
- Bruce Nauman, Walk with Contrapposto (1968)
- Charlemagne Palestine, Running Outburst (1975)
- Bill Viola, The Fall into Paradise (2005)
Outdoor Sculptures: Modern Head, Vaquero, and Tableau Noir
- Modern Head (2008): This 31-foot-tall sculpture by pop artist Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) is made of stainless steel painted blue and weighs 13,000 pounds. The sculpture is part of a series Lichtenstein began in the late 1960s that explored the idea of creating images of human figures that look like machines; this concept pervaded the artist's work throughout his career. Lichtenstein created the first Modern Head in 1974 out of wood that was painted blue. In 1989, he produced an edition of four in brushed steel. In 1990, the artist painted one a vibrant blue making it a unique work. Installed in 1996 in Battery Park City, one block from the World Trade Center, the sculpture survived the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack with only surface scratches and was temporarily used by the FBI as a message board during the investigation. It has had several homes before coming to the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The museum acquired the sculpture in 2008. It is on view outside at F & 9th Sts., NW.
- Vaquero (1987): The colorful fiberglass sculpture of a Mexican cowboy on a bucking blue horse by New Mexico artist Luis Jimenez Jr. (1940-2006). It is on view outside at the G St. entrance.
- Tableau Noir (The Blackboard) (1970): Alexander Calder’s large painted stabile sculpture. It is on loan from a private collection and is on view outside at the G St. entrance.
Modern and Contemporary Art
Lincoln Gallery, 3rd Floor, East
On view in the Lincoln Gallery are modern and contemporary artworks from the museum's permanent collection. New acquisitions are often featured.
- Room-size acquisitions, including David Hockney's Snails Space with Vari-Lites, "Painting as Performance"; Nam June Paik's Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii; and Edward and Nancy Kienholz's Sollie 17
- Large-scale works by Alfred Jensen, Sean Scully, and James Rosenquist
- Duane Hanson's Woman Eating
- For SAAM (2007) by Jenny Holzer: Commissioned by the museum, this contemporary site-specific light sculpture is a 28-foot-tall, floor-to-ceiling cylindrical column of LEDs (light-emitting diodes) with text -- varying in height, font, and intensity -- that is programmed to swirl and travel around the body of the piece. The text is from four of the artist's series -- Truisms, selections from Living, selections from Survival, and Arno (added November 3, 2007).
Related book: America's Art: $65 (cloth), $45 (paper)
American Art through 1940
2nd Floor, East, South, and North
This exhibition links artworks to major moments in America's past in nine thematic sections in 31 galleries. The introductory area features Frederic Auguste Bartholdi's model for the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of America as a place welcoming to all immigrants whose ingenuity and creativity plays a key role throughout America's art.
- "The American Colonies" and "The New Republic": The arts of New Spain and New England show how the cultures of colonial Britain, Spain, France, as well as American Indians and African Americans influenced the other while continuing to compete for land well into the 19th century. From independence through the Federal period, American art presented the nation as it wanted to be viewed and appreciated at home and abroad. Highlights include John Singleton Copley's Mrs. George Watson.
- "Western Frontier Art": The nation's westward expansion is explored through majestic landscapes of the western territories and portraits of American Indians. Highlights include Albert Bierstadt's "Great Picture" Among the Sierra Nevada, California and three rows of George Catlin's "Indian Gallery" portraits, all displayed as they would have been when they were first presented to the public.
- "Antebellum Art": Many 19th-century American artists traveled through Europe to pay their respects to the old masters and Antiquity. While there, they saw thousands of years of art that made their young country seem raw and primitive by comparison; many felt America needed a culture to match its political and economic power. This gallery features sculptures by Hiram Powers and others that represent the classical styles of art and architecture these 19th-century artists brought home with them -- styles that would dominate American public life for many decades. The museum has the world's largest collection of American sculpture.
- "Civil War": Prints by Winslow Homer, graphic early photographs, wood engravings, paintings, and sculptures illustrate how the Civil War tore apart the fabric of the nation (east wing).
- "Impressionism": American artists in the 1880's were attracted to the light and color of painting outdoors and many studied abroad to absorb the new palette and compositions that were modernizing painting in France. On view are works by Childe Hassam, John Twachtman, William Merritt Chase, and Mary Cassatt, who were influenced by this movement.
- "Gilded Age": The final quarter of the 19th century was dubbed the "Gilded Age" by author Mark Twain. On view to represent the period are signature works by John Singer Sargent, Abbott Handerson Thayer, and Henry Ossawa Tanner. Also on view are rooms devoted to the works of Albert Pinkham Ryder and Thomas Wilmer Dewing. Highlights include a gilded Steinway and Sons piano decorated by Dewing and a stained glass window by John La Farge.
- "Modernism": On view are early 20th-century American paintings and sculptures to show the contrast between abstraction and realism. Highlights include a suite of Ashcan School paintings, works from the Stieglitz Circle and the Harlem Renaissance, paintings from the Works Progress Administration's Federal Art Project, Everett Shinn's The White Ballet, and Thomas Hart Benton's mural Achelous and Hercules.
- "Southwestern Art": Artists working in eastern cities around 1900 saw the Southwest almost as a foreign country, where the age-old Spanish Catholic culture seemed like an antidote to the pressure of "progress." Painters from New York and Chicago, attracted by the clear light, ancient rhythms, and rich artistic traditions of the Pueblo communities, settled and developed artists' colonies around Santa Fe and Taos. Highlights include works from the Dallas Nine and the Taos Society.
Related book: America's Art: $65 (cloth), $45 (paper)
Lunder Conservation Center
3rd Floor Mezzanine and 4th Floor, West
The Lunder Conservation Center -- shared with the National Portrait Gallery -- is the first facility that provides a unique opportunity for the public to view through glass walls conservators at work in five different labs and studios examining, treating, and preserving art: Frames Studio, Paintings Studio, Paintings Lab, Paper Lab, and Objects Lab.
1st Floor, South
These introductory galleries feature 19th- and 20th-century landscapes from across the United States that convey a sense of place and the defining role of land in the American imagination, paintings by Edward Hopper, and 56 photographs from Lee Friedlander's series "The American Monument" (1963-2001) of outdoor sculptures across the country.
Thomas Moran Landscapes
2nd Floor, North
On view are three large landscape paintings by Thomas Moran, two on long-term loan from the U.S. Department of the Interior -- The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (1872) and The Chasm of the Colorado (1873-1874) -- and the museum's The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (1893-1901), along with a smaller Moran painting.
Sculptures by Paul Manship
1st Floor, North
From the museum's collection of nearly 500 works by Paul Manship (1885-1966) are 25 graceful sculptures -- including such mythological figures such as Atalanta and Europa, as well as a collection of gilded animal figures. As a young artist studying in Rome, Manship fell in love with both Roman and Greek sculpture and was captivated by animals and mythological figures. He also studied Egyptian, Asian, and Assyrian art. An exponent of Art Deco in the United States, he developed a style that was both representational and highly stylized.
• Additional works are on view in the Luce Foundation Center, 3rd floor.
• From time to time, the sculptures in this exhibit may rotate.
David Beck's MVSEVM
2nd Floor, South
Commissioned by the museum, David Beck created MVSEVM, an exquisitely crafted world in miniature; the work reflects the neoclassical architecture of the building, from the 1840s when it was the U.S. Patent Office, to the present day.
Related book: $16.95 (cloth)
Smithsonian Institution Building, the Castle
The Castle, the Smithsonian's original home, is a Medieval Revival building designed by James Renwick Jr. and completed in 1855. Its nine towers, battlements and chimneys make it an easy landmark to spot on the National Mall.
Castle Cafe and Coffee Bar
Featuring an Espresso/Cappuccino bar, Argentinean Gelato, Panini, Antipasti, Organic salads, Specialty Sandwiches, Soups and Pastries.
Discount for Smithsonian Members
Experience Civil War Photography: From the Home Front to the Battlefront
July 2013 (TBA)
Learn how Americans personally experienced the Civil War through photographs of the era. Stereo-view photographs, viewing devices, and 3-D images created from the photos (glasses provided) are on view to explore this new and innovative technology of 150 years ago. A camera, glass-slide negatives, and a video reveal how the photographs were created.
The photographs are divided into the following three sections:
- Smithsonian Castle; Washington, DC; and the National Mall
- Beginnings of American photojournalism and battlefield photography
- Homefront experience through photography
No photography permitted
Note: This exhibition may be closed to the public occassionally for special events.
Smithsonian Information Center
- An information desk, serving the public and Smithsonian Associate members, which is staffed by volunteers from 8:30 AM-4 PM daily.
- A scale model of Washington's monumental core.
- Smithson's Gift showcase (provides information on the history of the Institution).
- A tactile map of the Washington's monumental core with Braille labels
For a brief history of the Great Hall, click here.
1st Floor, North Entrance (Jefferson Drive)
The final resting place of the Institution's benefactor, James Smithson (1765-1829), is a small chapel-like room located at the north entrance to the Castle. An exhibit cases contain a few of Smithson's personal effects. A panel explains how Smithson's remains came to the United States in 1904 and the Smithsonian's plans to build a memorial to him.
For more information about James Smithson, click here.
Featured Areas: Children's Room, The Commons, and Schermer Hall
• Children's Room: (First Floor, South Entrance, Independence Avenue)
The Children's Room -- with the theme "Knowledge Begins in Wonder" -- was installed in the south tower of the Castle in 1901 and featured natural history exhibitions for children. The original decorative scheme by designer Grace Lincoln Temple was restored in the mid-1980s.
• The Commons: (First Floor, West Wing)
The Commons, in the 19th-century Gothic Revival architectural style, features a soaring, groin-vaulted ceiling, elaborate corbels, a ribbed-vaulted apse, and a rose window on the south wall. Encircling the room are 28 walnut exhibit cases built in 1871 and refurbished in July 2004 with selected objects representing the Smithsonian's collections (for details, see permanent exhibition The Smithsonian Institution: America's Treasure Chest). A dining facility operated in the room for many years; it closed in June 2004. For a brief history of the room, click here.
• Schermer Hall: (First Floor, West Wing)
Schermer Hall, named for Smithsonian donors Lloyd G. and Betty A. Schermer, is in the Romanesque Revival style with clerestory windows, rounded arches, and a barrel-vaulted ceiling. Furnishings from the Castle Collection include a pair of Rococo Revival gilded mirrors that belonged to Simon Cameron, Secretary of War (1860-1862) under President Lincoln; a pair of Renaissance Revival armchairs (c. 1860) that belonged to Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War (1862-1867) under Presidents Lincoln and Grant; and Georgian Revival tables (c. 1910) in mahogany and verdi marble with classically carved motifs, including anthemion and acanthus leaves and guilloche (running dog) borders. Also in this room is a small panel display on the history of the west wing; for details, see the permanent display The West Wing: A Chronology. For a brief history of the room, click here.
• Great Hall: See Smithsonian Information Center.
• Smithson's Crypt: See separate listing.