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My God, it's full of galaxies

"The 2MASS Redshift Survey (2MRS) has catalogued more than 43,000 galaxies within 380 million light-years from Earth. In this projection, the plane of the Milky Way runs horizontally across the center of the image. 2MRS is notable for extending closer to the Galactic plane than previous surveys - a region that's generally obscured by dust." Hires image.
posted by bwg on May 28, 2011 - 10 comments

One Nation Under a Groove

The Smithsonian's forthcoming National Museum of African American History and Culture won't open until 2015, but it has already made a number of important acquisitions, including most recently, the Parliament-Funkadelic Mothership.
posted by Horace Rumpole on May 19, 2011 - 32 comments

"I've always loved this photograph, but I can't figure out why."

Four Photographers on Three Wheels: William Eggleston's Tricycle and Before. Mark Feeney's lecture examines the humble tricycle in twentieth century photography. He compares photos by Helen Levitt, Garry Winogrand, Bill Owens and, of course, William Eggleston.
posted by bstreep on Apr 19, 2011 - 2 comments

Andy Jackson, you crazy.

Historically Hardcore is an awesome fake advertising campaign for the Smithsonian. Created as a portfolio project by two students, the ads have gone viral and the Smithsonian is none too pleased about it.
posted by helloknitty on Mar 31, 2011 - 73 comments

Paul Theroux

The Trouble With Autobiography
posted by puny human on Mar 16, 2011 - 18 comments

Roxie Laybourne

Who invented the cloacascope? Who could pinpoint minute structural characteristics of charred bird feathers and identify the bird species or family based on the feathers? Who was the oldest of 15 children and worked for more than 50 years at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History? Roxie (large image). Roxie C. Laybourne, feather detective, pioneer of forensic ornithology. [more inside]
posted by cashman on Mar 14, 2011 - 13 comments

Got my flash on, it's true. Need that picture of you.

Smithsonian Wild is a collection of over 200,000 pictures of animals taken by "camera traps", automated cameras with motion sensors. Each species is linked to its article in the Encyclopedia of Life, and the entire set of photos is also available on Flickr.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Feb 28, 2011 - 13 comments

Iconic 70s and 80s Americana

Richard Amsel was a Philadelphian artist who created original and iconic illustrations and paintings found on posters for several popular 1970s and 80s American movies, including Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome, The Dark Crystal, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and The Sting. He also created unique artwork for TV Guide covers, as well as album cover art for Bette Midler and others. His Time cover featuring Lily Tomlin was added to the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Jan 6, 2011 - 10 comments

Its not easy being human

Our wisdom teeth need to be pulled because our brains are too big: The Top Ten Daily Consequences of Having Evolved
posted by Huplescat on Nov 27, 2010 - 65 comments

Smithsonian to exhibit videogames as art. Jason Scott Completes GET LAMP. Can this day be any better?

The Art of Videogames, a Smithsonian American Art Museum exhibit set to open in March 2012, has been featured on CNN today. But you don't have to wait until 2012 to get your fix of gaming history. CNN has let the cat out of the scanner: our very own Jason Scott (jscott) has finished GET LAMP. It's now shipping! [more inside]
posted by honest knave on Aug 19, 2010 - 17 comments

Have you eaten your pound of potatoes today?

Beans are bullets. Potatoes are powder. An exhibition of food posters from the National Agricultural Library.
posted by mudpuppie on Jul 29, 2010 - 13 comments

The future, broken down

40 Things You Need to Know About the Next 40 Years For it's 40th anniversary issue, Smithsonian magazine asks experts in various fields for insights into our future and compiles a list of 40 predictions about the future of science, nature, the arts and technology. The feature essay is by President Obama, in which he explains why he's optimistic about America's future. (VIA) [more inside]
posted by mondaygreens on Jul 15, 2010 - 48 comments

I laugh to see your tiny world; Your toys of ships, your cars

Go For Launch! Timelapse video of preparing STS-131 (Discovery) for launch. [more inside]
posted by blue_beetle on May 21, 2010 - 17 comments

Hammerstone from Kenya, Handaxe from India

View, rotate, and interact with fascinating 3D scans of some of humanity's oldest artifacts. [more inside]
posted by SpringAquifer on Mar 15, 2010 - 8 comments

My Mom Is Proud of HDR Photography

HDR photography seems to be polarizing. People either love it, or hate it, including here on MeFi. For those who enjoy exploring the possibilities HDR presents, a good place to start is Stuck In Customs. Trey Ratcliff has the first HDR photo ever to hang in the Smithsonian. He offers a comprehensive, six-step HDR tutorial if you want to try it yourself. A sampling of his HDR travel photography is here, and throughout the site, and he is also experimenting with HDR video technology. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Dec 3, 2009 - 59 comments

Steve Jobs interview

I'm 100% sure that if it hadn't been for Mrs. Hill in fourth grade and a few others, I would have absolutely ended up in jail. A timeless and fascinating 1995 interview with Steve Jobs.
posted by erikvan on Oct 15, 2009 - 22 comments

Much Cooler Than Ceiling Cat!

There's ceiling cat, then there is this! Be sure to watch the video. (via.)
posted by cjorgensen on Sep 10, 2009 - 29 comments

Ben Stiller and walking dino skeleton not included.

Saturday, September 26th, the Smithsonian museum family and their affiliates will be hosting a free admission event, if you go to their MUSEUM DAY site and print out the admission coupon. One coupon = 1+ admission. [more inside]
posted by FunkyHelix on Aug 20, 2009 - 20 comments

Rocks from Heaven

Rocks from Heaven “â€ĤA party of the inhabitants of the town of Casas Grandes, as a matter of curious speculation, commenced excavating in the old ruins there. One more fortunate than the others drifted into a large room, in the middle of which there appeared to be a kind of tomb made of adobe-brick. Curiosity led this bold knight of the crowbar to renew his excavations, he found a large mass of meteoric iron in the middle of the tomb, carefully and curiously wrapped with a kind of coarse linen.” [more inside]
posted by various on Apr 5, 2009 - 21 comments

FlickTubeFaceSpace.com

Web Tech Guy and Angry [Museum] Staff Person. A very funny animation for the museums workers and librarians subset of Mefites. From Michael Edson at Smithsonian 2.0.
posted by LarryC on Mar 9, 2009 - 47 comments

Wiring the Castle

Circuits are flipping on in the nation's attic. A couple of weeks ago, 31 "digerati" -- like Clay Shirky, Chris Anderson, and George Oates -- dropped in to the Smithsonian Institution for the invitation-only conference "Smithsonian 2.0: A Gathering to Re-imagine the Smithsonian in the Digital Age". Dan Cohen of the Center for History and New Media provides a great summary (and continues to pose provocative questions) on his own blog. Those whose invitations were somehow lost in the mail can play fly-on-the-wall by watching the keynotes, paging through the Flickr pool of envymaking glimpses of their behind-the-scenes lab and collections tours, reading the blog (where Bruce Wyman of the Denver Art Museum lays out a succinct road map for museums using social media), and poking around in the SI's website gallery. Want to cheer on the USA's favorite 163-year-old "Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge" without taking the trip to DC? Thanks to their recent efforts, you can now follow the SI on Twitter, listen to its podcasts, watch its YouTube channel, visit the Latino Virtual Museum in Second Life, or use the FaceBook gifts page to send your best friends their very own pair of Dorothy's ruby slippers, Hope diamond, Negro Leagues baseball, or coelocanth.
posted by Miko on Feb 27, 2009 - 13 comments

Revival Revival

The Folkways Collection is a downloadable, 24-part podcast series that "explores the remarkable collection of music, spoken word, and sound recordings that make up Folkways Records (now at the Smithsonian as Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)."
posted by Miko on Feb 16, 2009 - 27 comments

U.S. Ex. Ex. 1838-1842

The United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 — Authorized and funded by the U.S. government, six ships sailed with 346 men (including officers, crew, scientists, and artists) on a four-year scientific and surveying mission, logging 87,000 miles around the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. Two ships and 28 men were lost, and the Expedition's contentious commander Charles Wilkes was court-martialled for his erratic behavior, and was sued by former officers and crew members. During the Civil War in 1861, he boarded a British ship, seized two Confederate agents, and nearly provoked military retaliation by England (he was court-martialled once again in 1864 for insubordination.) Wilkes' 1845 Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition and the Ex. Ex.'s journals were published by Congress, and some 40 tons of Expedition specimens and artifacts became the foundation of the Smithsonian Institution's collections. [Nathaniel Philbrick (video lecture) chronicles this almost-forgotten voyage in his 2003 book Sea of Glory (NYT review).]
posted by cenoxo on Oct 25, 2008 - 21 comments

The Smithsonian on Flickr

The Smithsonian has a Flickr page as part of the Flickr Commons program. So far there are 6 sets, Portraits of Scientists and Inventors, Portraits of Artists, American Celebrations, Smithsonian Folklife Festival, People and the Post and Smithsonian's First Photographer, featuring the work of Thomas William Smillie. [via The New Yorker's Book Bench]
posted by Kattullus on Jun 19, 2008 - 9 comments

Invention Playhouse

Explore the playful side of invention and the inventive side of play in Invention at Play. Learn how play connects to the creative impulse of both historic and contemporary inventors. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Jun 1, 2008 - 1 comment

Do You Like American Music?

Sounds of America is a new monthly streaming audio program, a collaboration between the National Museum of American History and Smithsonian Global Sound. Up now are 3 episodes: African-American music in New Orleans, Women in American Music, and Freedom Songs of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
posted by Miko on Apr 2, 2008 - 12 comments

The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nation's Millennium General Assembly

All that glitters is not gold. In this case, it happens to be pure junk. (via) [more inside]
posted by flatluigi on Feb 28, 2008 - 22 comments

Doodles, Drafts and Designs

Doodles, Drafts and Designs: Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian. Including crayon tests, the original telescoping shopping cart and more. [via the horse's neck]
posted by mediareport on Feb 11, 2008 - 7 comments

And all of it on their own stationery.

Saul Steinberg, artist-in-residence of the nation's attic. 1967 S. Dillon Ripley, the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution at the time, invited Saul Steinberg to come be their artist-in-residence. He lasted four months. A gallery of the works he made while there is included in the article. Previous Saul Steinberg.
posted by From Bklyn on Jun 15, 2007 - 6 comments

vote for your favorites

Finalists in the 4th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest.
posted by nickyskye on May 21, 2007 - 27 comments

Challenging the Smithsonian

The non-profit group, Public.resource.org, are challenging the Smithsonian Institution by downloading all 6,288 (mostly) public domain photographs from the very restrictive Smithsonian Images site and reposting them to Flickr. [more: here, here] {via Ramage}
posted by peacay on May 18, 2007 - 25 comments

Digging in the Back Yard

A Polite Letter from the Smithsonian
posted by Stynxno on Apr 19, 2007 - 50 comments

Native Art in Embassies

Established by the US Department of State, the Art in Embassies Program (AIEP) is "a global museum" exhibiting works by U.S. citizens in "approximately 180 American diplomatic residences worldwide". Recently, the AIEP began a collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) to bring limited edition works by five important contemporary Native American artists to embassies around the world.

The Native artists selected for the project include internationally exhibited Mario Martinez, who was recently given a major retrospective at the NMAI in New York City, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, a pioneering artist and art activist, as well as Marie Watt, Larry McNeil, and Norman Akers.
posted by aletheia on Apr 2, 2007 - 13 comments

Art Museum, Deconstructed

The Luce Foundation Center in the recently renovated and reopened National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, is more like a smörgåsbord-cum-antique store, packed in an overflowing archive rather than a more traditional museum layout. The collection is comprised of varying American art styles and genres in intimate display cases, with little in the way of context or reference. (Though the same site in this link is available on computers scattered throughout the gallery for further detail.)
posted by Dave Faris on Jan 12, 2007 - 12 comments

Sunday Bible fun!

The Smithsonian's Sackler gallery opened a unique and wide-ranging new exhibit yesterday featuring fragments of Bibles from before the year 1000. "Most of the manuscripts have never been seen outside the countries where they are stored. [Some Smithsonian-owned documents in the exhibition] have never been exhibited and two have not been shown since 1978." Fragments of the Codex Sinaiticus are included in the exhibit. Along with the archaeological interest, these fragments can pose theological and historical challenges for Christians. Some, like UNC's Bart Ehrman, have lost their faith as a result of studying early Bibles; some, like Luke Timothy Johnson of Emory, believing that Christianity is about a common cultural and spiritual experience, are unmoved by the "corruptions" and differences in the New Testament over time; other Christians try to refute (MeFi link) claims that the text has changed.
posted by ibmcginty on Oct 22, 2006 - 36 comments

Free museum admission! Whee!

"On September 30, 2006, for one day only, museums across the country will join the Smithsonian Institution in its long-standing tradition of offering free admission to visitors."
posted by moss on Sep 28, 2006 - 29 comments

16,000 artifacts from 87 countries for the last 101 years

Did you ever wonder what a Block 1 Apollo guidance computer looked like? Was grandpa a gunner in the Imperial German Air Force ? Maybe he sold a pioneer some laxatives? Perhaps you're just interested in a high tech Japanese Cameras? Find images of these items and more! at The Smithsonian Air and Space eMuseum
posted by Megafly on Sep 27, 2006 - 5 comments

Smithsonian Photography Initiative

The Smithsonian Photography Initiative provides access to "1,800 digital images, the work of 100 photographers, who used 50 different processes." It's the first online batch of the Smithsonian's 13 million photographs. (More info here and here). The Enter the Frame feature lets you save your own photo sequences.
posted by kirkaracha on Aug 20, 2006 - 4 comments

Smithsonian selling right-of-first-refusal to Showtime

World Famous publicly founded Smithsonian Institution recently sold a right-of-first-refusal on their collections to Showtime Networks, allegedly because the Smithsonian badly needed cash for urgent works (previous Mefi thread). Some poster on other blogs notes that if the WIPO Broadcasting Treaty (links to second draft) will be implemented that could grant Showtime a broadcast right over the documentaries produced with Smithsonian materials ; this right would be similar yet separated from copyright , but with additional and increasingly chilling effects [partially via BoingBoing]
posted by elpapacito on Apr 4, 2006 - 15 comments

Shuck an Oyster, Smoke a Bluefish, Sail a Skipjack, Call a Duck, Haul a Net

Wade in the Water In 2004, Smithsonian Folklife Festival featured the maritime cultures of the Mid-Atlantic region, from Long Island to North Carolina. Now, this site gives a home on the web to the cultural documentation gathered for the festival -- music, recipes, stories and oral history, an interactive map, the occupational folklore and natural history of regional fisheries, photos, video, and more. The material, ably compiled by folklorists and educators, creates a lasting and very accessible archive of festival highlights as well as an excellent overview of the distinct coastal culture of the Mid-Atlantic. Don't miss the great menhaden net-hauling chantey Help Me to Raise 'Em (links to mp3).
posted by Miko on Mar 27, 2006 - 7 comments

CivilWar@Smithsonian

"CivilWar@Smithsonian is produced by the National Portrait Gallery and is dedicated to examining the Civil War through the Smithsonian Institution's extensive and manifold collections." Winslow Homer's Civil War drawings, portraits of leaders, artifacts of soldiering, and, of course, Mathew Brady's portraits. Much more besides. Previous Winslow Homer thread.
posted by OmieWise on Dec 20, 2005 - 6 comments

Smithsonian Cover Art

Cover Art: The Time Collection [Flash] "In 1978 Time Magazine gave to the National Portrait Gallery some 800 works of original art that had at one time or another appeared on its covers." The gallery has created an online-only exhibition of the covers (the museum is closed for renovation until July 4, 2006). "And while one may normally imagine ornately framed oils of distinguished luminaries when thinking of the NPG, the Time covers offer a much closer to 'street level' survey of the prominent figures of any specific period." [via CSM]
posted by clgregor on Dec 14, 2005 - 7 comments

Operation Fresh Start

"[Operation Fresh Start's] mission is to use energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies to reduce the human suffering and economic loss caused by natural disasters." An intiative of the Dept. of Energy, Operation Fresh Start has helped many communities rebuild after disasters. Under the case studies link you can read about four. The most fascinating is Valmeyer, IL, which moved two miles to higher ground after being destroyed in the 1993 Mississippi River floods. Here is a Context article about the Valmeyer move, and one from Smithsonian Magazine, both well worth reading. (The DOE also published Rebuilding for the future...A guide to Sustainable Redevelopment for Disaster-Affected Communities.)
posted by OmieWise on Sep 6, 2005 - 5 comments

Smithsonian Water Stains

Smithsonian's latest exhibit includes catastrophic leaks that are damaging priceless treasures. Many items have been destroyed beyond repair and the problem seems to be getting worse. Will certain history be wiped out for good because officials lacked foresight?
posted by Guerilla on Aug 25, 2005 - 17 comments

The Museum Of Sounds

Did you know there's a department of the Smithsonian dedicated to saving the sounds of the past? Old phone rings, coffee percolators, home movie projectors, and much more.
posted by braun_richard on Jan 11, 2005 - 20 comments

Don't Bite the Hand That's Feeding You

Edison's New Media. American Memory (natch) offers this sprawling archive of audio files and filmic material. Uncovered while seeking an archive of piano roll recordings, unsuccessfully. Also noted: Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier and recordings from the American Variety Stage: Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment, 1870-1920.
posted by mwhybark on Sep 6, 2004 - 3 comments

Chasing Venus

Chasing Venus Transits of Venus occur every 130 years or so when Venus can be observed passing across the face of the sun. Chasing Venus is an online exhibition by Smithsonian Institution Libraries that tells the story of how the transit has been observed since the 17th century, with early observations in England, illustrated accounts of expeditions by 18th century astronomers to various parts of the world, and early uses of photography to record observations in the 19th century. Includes links to animations of transits reconstructed from Victorian photographs, and details of a lecture series on Thursdays in April and May (first one April 8). The first transit since 1882 is this year.
posted by carter on Apr 4, 2004 - 5 comments

Botanical illustrations

Smithsonian Catalog of Botanical Illustrations Feel the need for a touch of spring? The Smithsonian offers five hundred images (created by eleven artists) from its vast collection of botanical illustrations. Check out the images in the Curtis Botanical Magazine (1787-1807). For more wide-ranging overviews, try the Scientific Illustrators (1600-present); the Missouri Botanical Garden Library (digitized copies of 46 rare books); this special exhibition at the University of Delaware (general survey); and Haley & Steele (women artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries). Julene Sodt provides an extensive bibliography.
posted by thomas j wise on Mar 8, 2004 - 2 comments

Camping with the Sioux: The Fieldwork Diary of Alice Cunningham Fletcher

Camping with the Sioux: The Fieldwork Diary of Alice Cunningham Fletcher. 'In the Fall of 1881, Alice Fletcher traveled to Dakota Territory to live with Sioux women and record their way of life, accompanied by Susette La Flesche, an Omaha Indian, and journalist Thomas Henry Tibbles... '
More online anthropological collections from the Smithsonian, including selections from William Duncan Strong's 1933 Honduras Journal, and Kiowa drawings.
posted by plep on Feb 1, 2004 - 3 comments

Smithsonian Magazine's new photo contest

Smithsonian Magazine is holding its first-ever photo contest, open to all adult non-professional photographers to submit entries in five categories. (Professionals may want to see about freelance opportunities here.) I find it particularly nice that there is no entry fee, and no citizenship requirements. For inspiration you may want to browse a gallery of Smithsonian freelance photographers or view the beautiful (and seasonally appropriate) Ghost Towns by Night Light and pick up a few tips on night photography from the photographer.
posted by taz on Oct 10, 2003 - 23 comments

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