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What exactly does a bear do in the woods?

Lots of things, including playing, resting and coming in for its close-up―its really close-up.

And how do we know? Smithsonian scientists are studying the behavior of black bears, sun bears, giant pandas and dozens of other species through photos from motion-sensor camera traps around the world.

Look at the Birdie! Or the Panda, Elephant or Lion ›

Who shined a light on justice from the shadows?

Bayard Rustin, Chief Organizer of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, was often called Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s shadow.

Rustin, a pacifist, instructed King in Gandhi’s non-violent protest techniques. A former member of the Communist Party and openly homosexual, Rustin helped the civil rights movement by recognizing the power behind King’s leadership. In August 2013, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The time is NOW ›

What masterpiece not only fills a room—it is the room?

The Peacock Room at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art.

Painter James McNeill Whistler was only given permission to make minor alterations to a client’s dining room, but he went much further. He covered the ceiling with gold leaf and painted it and the wainscoting, cornices, shelving, shutters and walls in a lush pattern of peacock feathers—and peacocks.

An Artist as Proud as a Peacock ›

What is part man, part fish and all latex?

Paul Thek’s Fishman.

The sculpture has changed a lot since its creation in 1968: The original color of the latex has darkened and lost its elasticity, and parts of the sculpture have broken or crumbled away. In 2010, Fishman underwent a major treatment, which required conservators at Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum to develop new techniques since established conservation materials and methods weren’t compatible with the material.

Saving A Sculpture, One Fish at a Time ›

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 ›

Surfer Tom "Pōhaku” Stone makes a traditional Hawaiian surfboard for the museum's collection.

He's never board ›

“The Big Chair” symbolizes the creativity of the Anacostia neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

Take a load off ›


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 ›

Once thought to have gone extinct 65 million years ago, a living Coelacanth was caught in 1938.

A living fossil ›

Baltimore’s Globe Poster Printing created classic rhythm and blues posters in the fifties.

Art that fits the bill ›


Can history make you swing?

Yes, especially if it involves Duke Ellington! Watch our archives come to life.

The parterre is a carefully manicured garden with a changing palette of colors, shapes and texture.

All parterre of the plan ›


Can losing weight help you see better?

If you're an x-ray mirror, then being thin can help you see better...in space!

This tiny Columbia Command Module housed the three astronauts on the first moon landing mission.

A little cramped, but the view is spectacular! ›

70% of the world's people live in the coastal zone. Join the fight for this guy.

What can you do to help save the coast? ›


Can a bloom kill?

Nick Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the National Museum of Natural History.

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Batter up! It's opening day in Affiliateland! Check out baseball history in your neighborhood http://t.co/8BbD2u3YNt

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

If the slipper fits, pollinate it. ›


¿Dónde se pueden encontrar ballenas sobre una autopista?

Jorge Velez-Juarbe, Colaborador de investigación en el Smithsonian.


How can an exhibition make you sing?

S. Xavier Carnegie, Theatre Programs' creative director at the National Museum of American History.

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Wonder how curators @amhistorymuseum nerd out on #Aprilfools Day? They hold faux conferences on "stuff" http://t.co/Tc5KorLbrc #SaltyHistory

19 days ago

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

Petite predator ›

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

A primitive guitar ›


What mammal leads its life like a bee?

Naked mole-rats live their lives entirely underground in Africa, digging tunnels in a never-ending search for plant tubers to eat. These bizarre creatures are unlike nearly every other mammal on earth in that the burdens of reproduction and milk feeding of young are placed solely on a single queen and are not shared among the females of the colony.

Milk production in the nude ›

Smithsonian scientists used a CT-scanner to non-invasively examine this Peruvian mummy.

Mummies from the inside out ›


How can history talk back?

S. Xavier Carnegie, Theatre Programs' creative director at the National Museum of American History.

This is the fossilized dung of a Giant Sloth, estimated to be 100,000 years old.

And you thought fossils were just cool bones ›


How is the narwhal's tusk like a human tooth?

The narwhal tusk is the opposite of a human tooth, rigid in the center and surrounded by a flexible outer layer containing porous tubules. Scientists have long realized the signals a narwhal receives from the nerves in its spiral tusk—which is actually a wildly elongated tooth—provide critical information about its icy ocean environment.

Dentist to the rescue ›

Perhaps his most famous muse, Andy Warhol printed Marilyn Monroe's lips onto canvas in 1962.

Pucker up! ›


How do you digitize a 400lb lowland gorilla?

The largest fully preserved great ape collection is about to make its online debut.

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Happy birthday to Christopher Walken! In his honor, we suggest #morecowbell: http://t.co/Bj5h5RajxO (image from our trade catalog colln)

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What can you do with a Buddha’s Hand?

Eat it! A Buddha’s Hand Citron is a fruit that looks like a lumpy lemon and smells like, you guessed it, citrus! The fruit is used in China, India and the United States as a base for cocktails, candied as sweets or even as a scent for laundry detergent.

A delicious hand ›

Born into slavery, Nat Love became a legend of the American West as “Deadwood Dick.”

In my fighting clothes ›

Henri Matisse exaggerated the female figure in this terracotta sculpture.

Strike a pose ›


What percentage of taxi cab drivers are Indian American in NYC?

Indian Americans make up 30% of cab drivers in New York City. Be sure to visit "Beyond Bollywood" online or at the National Museum of National History to see more!

Shaping the nation ›

Two fishing cat kittens born in May are the first of this species to reproduce at the National Zoo.

No fraidy-cats when it comes to water ›

Cute or creepy? The vampire squid got its name from its black skin and red eyes.

Get the whole story ›

Native American Julia Keefe is an accomplished singer of a uniquely American art form: jazz.

"Up Where We Belong" ›


Where does the term “Bollywood” come from?

It’s a mash-up of Bombay and Hollywood, referring to the Indian film industry. Be sure to visit "Beyond Bollywood" online or at the National Museum of National History.

Go beyond ›


How can art catch a cold?

Watch the answer from Caitlin, conservation intern at the Hirshhorn Museum.

Go behind the scenes of the Seriously Amazing ad photo shoot.

Check it out ›

Doug Aitken’s ‘Song 1’ creates liquid architecture, mixing concrete, music and video.

I only have eyes for you ›


How do you deal with the mammoth task of analyzing ice age art?

Hand it over to the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute. An amateur fossil hunter found a bone with something carved into it. Smithsonian experts confirmed that the fossil bone’s engraving was the oldest and only known example of ice age art to depict a mammoth or mastodon in the Americas.

Ice Age art ›

"Science on a Sphere" lets you see the ocean’s constant interaction with land and the atmosphere.

A global film experience ›

The headgear that Muhammad Ali wore while training for his battle against Sonny Liston.

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee ›


What kind of “fruit” was recently found on Mars?

Blueberries! Among the many fascinating geologic formations found by the Mars rover, Opportunity, are clusters of BB-sized, hematite-rich spherules embedded in rock that look like Earthly blueberries. They were formed by groundwater, giving credence to the theory that water was once on Mars. See images of this Martian “fruit” and other intriguing geologic shapes on the Red Planet at the National Air and Space Museum through May 31, 2014.

Berry interesting ›

How do you move a 3,000-lb. sculpture? Very carefully.

Moving day ›


Can an Atari be a work of art?

Yes! At the Smithsonian American Art Museum, artist Ed Fries combined a 1977 Atari gaming system with one of the most popular video games of the 21st century, "Halo". Fries redesigned the modern game to work on the 40-year-old gaming system. Similar to showing today's Youtube videos on an 8MM projector, Fries' work highlights the changing relationship between technology and creativity.

Simplifying a world-wide obsession ›


What do Jay-Z and Faye Dunaway have in common?

They both could be labeled "cool" by 1940s standards (and today!). "Cool" is a term made popular by legendary jazz saxophonist Lester Young when he brought this African American concept into the modern vernacular. Cool became a way of showing that someone had a balanced state of mind, a dynamic way of performing, and a certain stylish stoicism. See what makes up "American Cool" at the National Portrait Gallery.

Zeal for the zeitgeist ›

The “Spirit of Tuskegee” was used to train Tuskegee Airmen from 1944 to 1946.

History takes flight ›

Photographer Steven Cummings blurs the lines between fine art and commercial art.

Art or advertising or both? ›

Sculptor Henry Bertoia designed this chair as "a study in space."

But is it comfy? ›


What does a cloud sound like?

You'll have to visit "Cloud Music" at the Smithsonian American Art Museum to find out. This audio/visual installation uses the sky as a musical score, playing harmonics as the sky shifts outside. Birds, clouds, rain, and even clear skies have different sounds.

When the weather is a symphony ›

A study for Georgia O’Keefe’s “New York Interpreted: The Bridge”

Study up ›

Young woman, Mali, (1971), Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art.

Photographic African journey ›


What is the oldest object you will ever touch in a Smithsonian museum?

The moon rock at the National Air and Space Museum. Known as sample 70215, 84 by NASA, this rock was collected during the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972. Although young by lunar standards, at 3.8 billion years it is probably the oldest object most museum visitors will ever touch.

A lunar touchpoint ›