The Torch

The Torch News by, for, and about the Smithsonian community. The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum, research and education complex with 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoological Park, as well as research facilities around the world.

Museums include:

Anacostia Community Museum
Arts and Industries Building
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum (New York City)
Freer Gallery of Art
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
National Air and Space Museum
National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Chantilly, Va.) National Museum of African American History and Culture
National Museum of African Art
National

Museums include:

Anacostia Community Museum
Arts and Industries Building
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum (New York City)
Freer Gallery of Art
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
National Air and Space Museum
National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Chantilly, Va.) National Museum of African American History and Culture
National Museum of African Art
National

Operating as usual

Are you smart, sciencey and know your way around the media universe? Come work with us!The Smithsonian Office of Public ...
06/28/2021

Are you smart, sciencey and know your way around the media universe? Come work with us!

The Smithsonian Office of Public Affairs is seeking a mid-career science press secretary. This position will work on public affairs activities related to the science museums, research and conservation centers, and the National Zoo and provide professional communications counsel on strategies and plans to ensure coverage in various media outlets. This person also develops and executes comprehensive communications plans for special projects and serves as a member of the OPA crisis communications team.

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter, resume, relevant writing samples, and contact information for three references to [email protected] by July 2, 2021.
https://s.si.edu/3hbTgwJ

Are you smart, sciencey and know your way around the media universe? Come work with us!

The Smithsonian Office of Public Affairs is seeking a mid-career science press secretary. This position will work on public affairs activities related to the science museums, research and conservation centers, and the National Zoo and provide professional communications counsel on strategies and plans to ensure coverage in various media outlets. This person also develops and executes comprehensive communications plans for special projects and serves as a member of the OPA crisis communications team.

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter, resume, relevant writing samples, and contact information for three references to [email protected] by July 2, 2021.
https://s.si.edu/3hbTgwJ

It’s hard enough starting a new job—finding your way around, getting to know your colleagues, adapting to new responsibi...
06/16/2021
Torch | Meet Rebecca Johnson: Scientist, cat lover and fearless croc handler

It’s hard enough starting a new job—finding your way around, getting to know your colleagues, adapting to new responsibilities—but what if you had to do it in the middle of a global pandemic thousands of miles from home?
https://s.si.edu/3xsqSwU

Jun 16 Meet Rebecca Johnson: Scientist, cat lover and fearless croc handler It’s hard enough starting a new job—finding your way around, getting to know your colleagues, adapting to new responsibilities—but what if you had to do it in the middle of a global pandemic thousands of miles from hom...

A rose by any other name would still get blight, black spot and aphids (at least in our garden.) Horticulturist Shelley ...
06/11/2021

A rose by any other name would still get blight, black spot and aphids (at least in our garden.) Horticulturist Shelley Haskins explains how Smithsonian Gardens is working to grow a kinder, gentler rose.
https://s.si.edu/3ze9RrQ

A rose by any other name would still get blight, black spot and aphids (at least in our garden.) Horticulturist Shelley Haskins explains how Smithsonian Gardens is working to grow a kinder, gentler rose.
https://s.si.edu/3ze9RrQ

In celebration of Pride Month, we honor LGBTQ+ women who have made remarkable contributions to the nation and helped adv...
06/10/2021

In celebration of Pride Month, we honor LGBTQ+ women who have made remarkable contributions to the nation and helped advance equality in fields as diverse as medicine and the dramatic arts. Here are a few of their stories:

https://s.si.edu/2Tdj3fJ

In celebration of Pride Month, we honor LGBTQ+ women who have made remarkable contributions to the nation and helped advance equality in fields as diverse as medicine and the dramatic arts. Here are a few of their stories:

https://s.si.edu/2Tdj3fJ

GVGK Tang takes us on a fascinating journey through literature, film and politics to trace the origins of the iconic rai...
06/09/2021

GVGK Tang takes us on a fascinating journey through literature, film and politics to trace the origins of the iconic rainbow flag.

Reading the Rainbow: The origins of the Pride Symbol
https://s.si.edu/357eWUW

GVGK Tang takes us on a fascinating journey through literature, film and politics to trace the origins of the iconic rainbow flag.

Reading the Rainbow: The origins of the Pride Symbol
https://s.si.edu/357eWUW

06/08/2021
Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past

For 175 years the Smithsonian has been the caretaker of America’s treasures, the archivist of its history and the narrator of our shared story. But that story is incomplete and inaccurate if it does not acknowledge and include the voices of those oppressed by racial injustice.

We're baaaaack! Haven't seen you guys since the last pandemic. So what's been going on the last year?
06/08/2021
Torch | All Smithsonian museums will reopen to the public this summer

We're baaaaack! Haven't seen you guys since the last pandemic. So what's been going on the last year?

May 26 All Smithsonian museums will reopen to the public this summer Museum reopenings will be staggered beginning in June. I am pleased to announce that we will reopen 10 more museums over the course of the summer, following the successful reopening this month of the National Air and Space Museum.....

A long-lost photograph helps us see an abolitionist icon as young woman just beginning the hard journey to freedom.
05/28/2020
Torch | Sidedoor: Young Harriet

A long-lost photograph helps us see an abolitionist icon as young woman just beginning the hard journey to freedom.

May 27 Sidedoor: Young Harriet A long-lost photograph helps us see an abolitionist icon as young woman just beginning the hard journey to freedom. In 2017, a photograph of the famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman surfaced that had been lost to history for more than a century. In this episode of Sidedoo...

In the midst of an alarming plummet in migratory bird populations, how do we keep common songbirds common?
05/27/2020
Torch | The silence of the birds: How can we make sure common songbirds stay common?

In the midst of an alarming plummet in migratory bird populations, how do we keep common songbirds common?

May 22 The silence of the birds: How can we make sure common songbirds stay common?   Ironically, a Zoo exhibition of common migratory songbirds may help ensure these backyard birds never become exotic rarities found only in zoos. The reason many people visit zoos is to marvel at exotic animals fro...

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are closed to the public. We will upda...
05/26/2020

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are closed to the public. We will update our operating status as events warrant. Stay tuned and stay safe! We'll get through this.

Today in Smithsonian History: January 17, 1883. The Board of Regents asks Congress for more money for the U.S. National ...
01/17/2020

Today in Smithsonian History: January 17, 1883. The Board of Regents asks Congress for more money for the U.S. National Museum. They don't get it.

The Board of Regents presented a resolution to Congress requesting an appropriation of $300,000 to enlarge the National Museum by erecting a new building on the southwest corner of the Smithsonian Reservation in order to house the U.S. Geological Survey--at the time occupying 20 rooms in the National Museum building (now known as the Arts and Industries Building.) The request, coming just two years after the National Museum Building opened, is denied.

It was not until 1902 that Congress appropriated funding for a new U.S. National Museum, now the National Museum of Natural History.

Image: The workroom for for Indian ethnology located on the second floor, West Tower of the United States National Museum, now known as the the Arts and Industries Building, ca. 1890s. Via Smithsonian Institution Archives

Today in Smithsonian History: January 16, 1978. The Chase Manhattan Money Collection of more than 24,000 pieces is given...
01/16/2020

Today in Smithsonian History: January 16, 1978. The Chase Manhattan Money Collection of more than 24,000 pieces is given to the Smithsonian. If you're going to collect something, it might as well be money, right?

The National Numismatic Collection of the Smithsonian Institution is the largest such collection in North America and one of the largest in the world, comprising approximately 1.6 million objects. There are over 450,000 coins, medals and decorations and 1.1 million pieces of paper money, including many great rarities in coins and currency, from the earliest coins created 2,700 years ago up to the latest innovations in electronic monetary exchange, as well as fascinating objects such as beads, wampum, dentalia, and other commodities once used as money.

Image: United States One Dollar, Pattern, 1877, United States Mint, Philadelphia. Obverse: Liberty head with coronet facing left, date below. Reverse: Denomination in a cereal wreath. William Barber designed this pattern. Only a half-dozen,including this one, are known to exist. Via Smithsonian Institution Archives

Today in Smithsonian History: January 15, 1924. A special exhibition of James Whistler's etchings opens at the Freer Gal...
01/15/2020

Today in Smithsonian History: January 15, 1924. A special exhibition of James Whistler's etchings opens at the Freer Gallery of Art. We do not know how many young ladies were invited to view them by Lotharios with impure motives.

Whistler (1834-1903) was a leading proponent of "art for art's sake." His best known painting is the iconic and often parodied "Whistler's Mother." Whistler had great influence on the art world and broader culture of his time with his artistic theories and his friendships with leading artists and writers.

Image: "The Balcony" by James McNeill Whistler (1834 - 1903), etching on paper 1879 - 1880. Gift of Charles Lang Freer.

Today in Smithsonian History: January 14, 1967. Nearly 600 children attend a talk by Dr. William Melson of the Departmen...
01/14/2020

Today in Smithsonian History: January 14, 1967. Nearly 600 children attend a talk by Dr. William Melson of the Department of Mineral Sciences, are mildly disappointed not to receive actual gems as lovely parting gifts.

Image: A large pear-cut ametrine from the National Gem Collection. Ametrine is a naturally occurring variety of quartz. It is a mixture of amethyst and citrine with zones of purple and yellow or orange. Almost all commercially available ametrine is mined in Bolivia. (Photo by Chip Clark)

Last week we learned of an enormous structure of hot gas in the middle of the Milky Way. We’re fairly certain it did not...
01/13/2020
Torch | ICYMI: Highlights from the week than was January 3 – January 10, 2020

Last week we learned of an enormous structure of hot gas in the middle of the Milky Way. We’re fairly certain it did not originate on Earth. But then again…

Jan 13 ICYMI: Highlights from the week than was January 3 – January 10, 2020 No one can keep up with everything, so let us do it for you. We’ll gather the top Smithsonian stories from across the country and around the world each week so you’ll never be at a loss for conversation around the wat...

For a quarter of a century, the Museum on Main Street [MoMS] program has brought the Smithsonian to small-town audiences...
01/13/2020
Torch | Sharing the stories of America

For a quarter of a century, the Museum on Main Street [MoMS] program has brought the Smithsonian to small-town audiences and rural communities with exhibitions that focus on storytelling and celebration of each community’s heritage.
Amy Rogers Nazarov shows how the history and heritage weaves a larger story.

Jan 13 Sharing the stories of America For a quarter of a century, the Museum on Main Street [MoMS] program has brought the Smithsonian to small-town audiences and rural communities with exhibitions that focus on storytelling and celebration of each community’s heritage. Since 1994, MoMs exhibition...

Today in Smithsonian History: January 13, 1982. The crash of Air Florida Flight 90 into the Potomac river takes 78 lives...
01/13/2020

Today in Smithsonian History: January 13, 1982. The crash of Air Florida Flight 90 into the Potomac river takes 78 lives, including that of Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute scientist Robert Elliot Silberglied.

Smithsonian staff, dismissed from work early because of a snow storm, are caught between two terrible accidents: a Metro derailment just north of the Smithsonian station and the tragic crash of Air Florida Flight 90 into the 14th Street Bridge that took the lives of 78 people, including Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute scientist Robert Elliot Silberglied. Most staff are given administrative leave on Thursday, Jan. 14, as well. The National Zoo is closed from the 13th through the 15th. Phone traffic is so heavy on the main telephone switchboard that the mechanical answering machine breaks down on Wednesday evening at about 6:30 p.m.

Image: The tail of Air Florida Flight 90 is visible during the recovery effort after the jet crashed into the Potomac River during a snowstorm on January 13, 1982. This photo was taken January 19, 1982. Source: Washington Weather

Today in Smithsonian History: January 12, 1945. Ornithologist Alexander Wetmore is elected sixth Secretary of the Smiths...
01/12/2020

Today in Smithsonian History: January 12, 1945. Ornithologist Alexander Wetmore is elected sixth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

A noted ornithologist, Wetmore had been associated with the Institution since 1924, when he served for a short time as director of the National Zoological Park. He had also served as Assistant Secretary in charge of the United States National Museum. He served as Secretary from 1944 to 1952.

Image: This is a portrait photograph of Wetmore taken on April 10, 1944. (Photographer unknown, via Smithsonian Institution Archives)

Today in Smithsonian History: January 11, 1994. "Workers at the White House" opens as a traveling exhibition.The exhibit...
01/11/2020
Hear From the Real Butler of the White House, Eugene Allen

Today in Smithsonian History: January 11, 1994. "Workers at the White House" opens as a traveling exhibition.

The exhibition was produced by the Traveling Exhibition Service and the Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies in cooperation with the White House Historical Association and the National Archives in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the White House. It is based on a program presented during the 1992 Festival of American Folklife and gives an intimate, behind-the scenes portrait of “the people's house.”

Learn more from Smithsonian magazine:

Smithsonian Folkways interviewed the man who inspired the new film starring Forest Whitaker

Today in Smithsonian History: January 10, 1928. Charles Greeley Abbot becomes the fifth Secretary of the Smithsonian Ins...
01/10/2020

Today in Smithsonian History: January 10, 1928. Charles Greeley Abbot becomes the fifth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Surprisingly, his impressive mustache was not a deciding factor in his appointment.

Abbot first came to the Institution in 1895 as an aide at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory after receiving his master's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Upon Secretary Samuel P. Langley's death in 1908, Abbot succeeded him as director of the Astrophysical Observatory and in 1918, was named Assistant Secretary. He served 16 years as Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

Image: Dr. Charles G. Abbot, fifth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1928 - 1944. (Photographer unknown. Via Smithsonian Institution Archives

Manly men with hipster hair.
01/09/2020

Manly men with hipster hair.

It may be cold outside but it's warm in Smithsonian Institution Archives. This portrait of a Smithsonian staff member/undiscovered model is from the 1880s.

Today in Smithsonian History: January 9, 1969. An exhibition of Winslow Homer's graphic art opens at the American Art Mu...
01/09/2020

Today in Smithsonian History: January 9, 1969. An exhibition of Winslow Homer's graphic art opens at the American Art Museum.

Homer is recognized as one of the leading figures in American art, known especially for his dramatic marine scenes and realistic depictions of American life. This illustration, "The Skating Season," appeared in the Jan. 18, 1862 issue of Harper's Weekly.

The Smithsonian Castle after the first of two snowstorms in February 2010 that came to be known as "Snowmageddon." (Phot...
01/09/2020

The Smithsonian Castle after the first of two snowstorms in February 2010 that came to be known as "Snowmageddon." (Photo by James Di Loreto)

Today in Smithsonian History: November 30, 1846. The Board of Regents chooses James Renwick to design what will become k...
11/30/2019

Today in Smithsonian History: November 30, 1846. The Board of Regents chooses James Renwick to design what will become known as the Smithsonian "Castle."

The Building Committee of the Board of Regents reports on their efforts to select an appropriate plan for a building to accommodate the functions of the newly established Smithsonian. After visiting buildings in a number of cities and reviewing plans submitted by various architects, the committee selected a plan submitted by James Renwick, Jr., in the later Norman, or more strictly Lombard style, as it prevailed in Germany, Normandy, and Southern Europe in the 12th century.

Today in Smithsonian History: November 29, 1972. "Modern American Art" opens, featuring 50 works of um, modern American ...
11/29/2019

Today in Smithsonian History: November 29, 1972. "Modern American Art" opens, featuring 50 works of um, modern American art.

he special installation contains some 50 contemporary paintings and sculptures, including part of the S. C. Johnson collection.

Image: n Edward Hopper's "People in the Sun" (1960), from the S.C. Johnson collection, five men and women sit on a terrace beneath a vast blue sky. Stark contrasts and cool light emphasize the eerie expressions, frozen poses, and formal attire of the visitors. Hopper distilled his memories of tourist destinations in the American West to create a scene that is strangely familiar but nowhere in particular. The precisely staggered deck chairs and bands of color indicating mountains, sky, and grass create an abstracted environment that veers between a real view and a stage set, as if Hopper were replaying a silent film of a family vacation. People in the Sun suggests a crowd of tourists who feel obliged to take in a famous scenic view, but do so with little pleasure. The canvas may reflect Hopper's discomfort in the West, where he found himself unable to paint with his usual enthusiasm when confronted by the harsh light and monumental landscapes.

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