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The cofounder and lead singer of the new wave punk band Blondie, Deborah Harry carved a path for female rockers with her good-meets-bad fusion of haughty detachment and streetwise style.

In 1978, Harry challenged the notion that musicians—particularly women—needed to be accessible. This 1978 photo is one of 100 that make up the “American Cool” exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

One way, or another ›

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Each shoe collected by artist Chiharu Shiota in this installation at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery describes lost individuals and past moments.

Haunted by the traces that the human body leaves behind, the work amasses personal memories through an accumulation of nearly 400 individual shoes. Collected by the artist, each shoe comes with a note from the donor describing lost individuals and past moments.

See the exhibition in progress ›

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In the history of Hawaii! Hawaii was originally named the Sandwich Islands by Captain James Cook in 1778.

Polynesians in voyaging canoes first reached the Hawaiian Islands over 1,000 years ago. In 1778 Captain James Cook and his men became the first westerners to visit. He named the island chain the Sandwich Islands.

Can't get to paradise? Come see the exhibition ›

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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 ›

SI—Q

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 ›

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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

19 days ago

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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? ›

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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! ›

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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 ›

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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 ›

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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 ›

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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 ›

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Would you eat a chocolate bar that did not melt?

This may sound too good to be true, but during World War II, The Hershey’s Chocolate Co. was commissioned by the U.S. Army to create a heat-resistant chocolate bar with strict regulations. These regulations included specific weight and taste – yes, taste. The Army stated that the bar could not be so tasty that soldiers would want to eat it, except in an emergency. These “Tropical Chocolate Bars” were incredibly successful, which surely made founder Milton Hershey very proud.

24 million bars produced every week in 1945 ›

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

A watershed moment ›

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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 ›

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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 ›

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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

19 days ago

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What's a sweet way to visualize our universe?

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory has illustrated the energy distribution of our universe by using a jar of jelly beans, mostly black. Dark energy and dark matter (black jelly beans) take up most of the Universe.

Delicious science ›

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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 ›

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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 ›

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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 ›

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 ›

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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 ›

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 ›

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What do bats have in common with happy hour?

Tequila! Tequila is made from the agave plant. Certain species of bats feed on the nectar of agave flowers and in the process they pollinate the flower and help the plant to thrive.

A toast to pollinating bats ›

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

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How is hip-hop like the microchip?

Both grew out of communities that were innovation hotbeds—the microchip from Silicon Valley and hip-hop from the Bronx. By building primitive song mixers, constructing speakers out of trash cans and hacking power from street lights, early MCs in the 1970s’ Bronx demonstrated problem solving, risk taking and creativity, inventing a new style of American music. The Smithsonian studies how inventive communities form and impact culture.

Innovation Hotspots ›

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 ›

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What dream vacation was not exactly “dreamy” once upon a time?

Going to Hawaii. Before the advent of safe and reliable jet travel, it took weeks to make the ocean journey there. And attempts by civilians to make the dangerous flight often resulted in tragedy.

How air travel changed Hawaii ›

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

A primitive guitar ›

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Where would you find a flying vampire?

In the caves of Mexico south to Argentina and Chile. Of the 1,300+ species of bats, only 3 are true "vampire bats" that feed entirely on blood of their warm-blooded prey. Have no fear - these vampires prefer the blood of birds and other mammals.

Batty for bats ›

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Stop and smell the... chocolate?

You almost certainly know Milton Hershey as a famous chocolatier, but did you know he also created a rose garden in Hershey, Pennsylvania? The idea to construct the garden came after repeated conversations with J. Horace McFarland, an avid member of the American Rose Society. The original plan was to have the garden in Washington, D.C., yet the Hershey location is now 23 acres and continues to be a popular tourist destination.