When you are standing next to a Japanese folding screen.

This delicate Japanese art form often depicts a story in progress. This screen shows cherry blossoms in early spring. A rope strung around the trees holds up large, ornate brocades. The cloth acts as curtains to block off the area for a blossom-viewing party.

Ancient tales of beauty ›


The O. Orkin Insect Zoo lets you get up-close and very personal with some of its inhabitants.

The O. Orkin Insect Zoo lets you get up-close and very personal with some of its inhabitants. The O. Orkin Insect Zoo is a special exhibit hall on the 2nd Floor of the National Museum of Natural History where visitors can observe live insects and their many-legged relatives. Volunteers conduct tarantula feeding demonstrations, work with live insects that visitors may touch and hold, and answer questions about the many-legged creatures that live in the Insect Zoo.

The more legs, the better ›


Want more of a say in what happens at the Smithsonian?

We are looking for a few good Smithsonian fans to join our Smithsonian Fan Forum (SFF), an online group of our friends and visitors who will give us feedback on an array of Smithsonian initiatives. If you would like to provide occasional feedback to the Smithsonian and help us plan for the future, please click below to sign up.

Join the Smithsonian Fan Forum ›


How many cables does it take to hang a 5-ton airplane?

Join Anthony Carp at Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum as he shows us the science behind how he hangs some of our heaviest artifacts at the Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center.

Planes and spaceships and more ›


How do you entertain an otter?

Join Smithsonian's National Zoo keeper, Stacey Tabellario, as she shows us why enrichment activities for our Asian Small-Clawed Otters are so important.

Meet our family group of otters ›


What plant smells good enough to eat?

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Our world is a gauntlet of death for birds. Habitat loss, cats, chemicals & more: #SOTB14 http://t.co/RBTuEJFpPt http://t.co/oqsZhcp3V5

2 months ago


What color is chocolate?

Natural chocolate is actually a reddish color. Chocolate didn't turn brown until chemists got their hands on it.

How did this happen? ›


How can you help make history with the Smithsonian?

Happy American Archives Month! The Smithsonian Institution Archives staff show us how the Smithsonian has been crowd sourcing for 165 years.

Crowdsourcing the weather and the stars ›


Born to a poet, how did Ada Lovelace turn to a career in tech?

Surprisingly, Lovelace never met her poet father due to a parental squabble. In fact, her overprotective mother sheltered her from the arts and nudged her to pursue math and science. Lovelace is best known for translating and adding to notes about Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, including a method for calculating Bernoulli numbers; this is widely consider to be the script for the first computer program.

See more women in science from the Smithsonian ›


Were baseball players always this hairy?

At the turn of the 20th century, the majority of baseball players sported mustaches. But by the 1930s, fuzzy upper lips were frowned upon in the major leagues. The idea was to make the game more appealing to families, by keeping the boys clean-shaven and well groomed.

Baseball's best facial hair ›

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Here's how @3d_digi_si and @chandraxray worked together to allow you to hold a dying star in your hand: https://t.co/MheCllDVHR

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Did hobbits really exist?

Meet Homo floresiensis, nicknamed “hobbit” because of its short stature and large feet. This early human species lived on the island of Flores in Indonesia. Its body and brain were very small, probably due to the scarce resources available on the one island where it’s been found so far.

What does it mean to be human? ›

The ensemble worn by Marian Anderson for her historic concert at the Lincoln Memorial.

A watershed moment ›


When -- and why -- did Apple promise to keep you away from Big Brother?

Companies pay millions to broadcast innovative ads during the Super Bowl. In 1984, Apple promised in its Super Bowl XVIII spot that when its Macintosh was released, “you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984’.” The “Classic” Macintosh PC introduced clickable icons (with the newly introduced “mouse”) to open programs instead of typing out program commands.

Kiss those floppy disks goodbye ›


How can you hold a dying star in your hand?

You can 3D print a model of a supernova made from Smithsonian data. It is one of 23 collection items that have been 3D scanned and data made available for download by the Smithsonian 3D Digitization team.

Print a 3D model of your own ›


If Pablo Picasso was in charge of the guest list who would he invite?

With a list jotted down on a scrap of paper, Pablo Picasso listed the European artists he recommended for the 1913 Armory Show. With phonetic spelling, Picasso recommended Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Leger and Juan Gris, among others.

Picasso's short list ›


Can your biggest fear shape your art?

It can! In this case, a fear of iguanas can be an inspiration to explore identity in pictures. Karen Miranda Rivadeneira is a Latina artist featured in the National Portrait Gallery's new exhibition, Portraiture Now: Staging the Self. Karen uses photography to explore the intersection between memory and identity.

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month ›


Which insect has multi-talented legs?

Katydids! Their front wings have special structures that can be rubbed together to make sounds. They hear these sounds with flat patches on their legs that act as ears.

Bugs aplenty! ›

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is the companion facility to the Museum on the National Mall.

This photo is one of 100 that make up the “American Cool” exhibition at the Portrait Gallery.

American Cool ›


When can breathing help quench your thirst?

When wearing the Armbrust cup. This odd device, worn over the face, converts condensation from breath into drinking water. Renowned pilot Charles Lindbergh always took one with him on flights over the ocean in case of an emergency landing.

Aviation must-haves ›

The Smithsonian honors the musical legacy of Coltrane during Jazz Appreciation month.

American stories ›

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the passenger pigeon’s extinction.

Once there were billions ›


Where can you put your own stamp on history?

At The National Postal Museum, visitors can create their own stamp collection on topics that interest them most. Interactive stations also allow visitors to create their own stamp designs.

Connect with U.S Stamps ›

May 2014 marks the 75th anniversary of Batman’s debut with DC Comics.


What jungle bird has all the right moves?

Few have witnessed the flamboyant courtship displays of Papua New Guinea's Flame Bowerbird. Hidden in the dense jungles, the bird's extraordinary mating ritual has captured the interest of wildlife experts across the world.

A sultry dance ›

Lady slipper orchids are just some of the varieties in the exhibition “Orchids of Latin America.”

If the slipper fits, pollinate it. ›

This is the smallest shark, a dwarf lantern shark – smaller than a person's hand!

Petite predator ›


Ahoy, matey! What arrr you having for supper?

If you were a pirate, not much. Being constantly at sea meant little food and a lot of mold, so pirates mostly survived on a diet of dried meats and, you guessed it, rum.

Talk like a pirate and eat like one, too ›

This folk art guitar has a two chambers for stashing strings, picks or snacks

A primitive guitar ›


Can a cup of coffee save a bird?

Yes. Massive pesticides used for growing coffee on plantations can immediately affect tropical forests and the birds that live there. Luckily, some coffee growers are using shade-grown coffee, which plays a key role in environmental conservation and for migratory birds.

Sustainable brew is for the birds ›


Can cats save your soul?

Yes. In ancient Egypt, amulets made of stone often represented sacred animals, including cats. Amulets were believed to give their owners magical protection from evil forces.

A powerful possession ›