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.
Don't miss two new, cutting edge exhibitions: "At the Hub of Things: New Views of the Collection" and "Days of Endless Time", featuring works by more than 60 artists.
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.
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.
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.
A handmade stamp canceling device once used the postal service.
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.
If you don’t know Lead Belly, you likely know many of the musicians who covered his music: Led Zeppelin, (“Gallows Pole”), Nirvana (“Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”) and you’ve definitely heard “Black Betty” played in countless sports arenas. You can now rediscover Lead Belly as the man behind these favorite folk songs with the release of Smithsonian Folkways’ five-disc box set, “Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection,” the first career-spanning box set dedicated to the legend.
Shoes worn by famed Afro-Cuban vocalist Celia Cruz.
Abraham Lincoln's gold watch.
The native South American flower, petunia is a close relative of tomatoes, chili peppers and potatoes but is only a favorite food of caterpillars. You can continue to test your flower IQ with more fun facts like this in QuizUp’s new “Name the Flower” topic filled with questions from our Smithsonian Gardens.
Tuskegee Airmen Congressional Gold Medal.
The rolled leaf beetle C. alternans
Swarna is one of the National Zoo’s three new female Asian elephants.
The hardship and crisis of the Civil War sparked the work of renown poet Emily Dickinson. Despite an intellectually isolated upbringing, Dickinson's creative work reflects the dead she saw and the casualties that returned to her town in the 19th century.
Baseball autographed by Babe Ruth, 1926.
An olivine crystal from the Pacific Ocean.
The Dom Pedro aquamarine.
The foundation for Romeo and Juliet was built on Ovid's Metamorphosis, a Greek tragedy about two young lovers forbidden to wed. Revisit the tale of how a crack in the wall and a bloody lion turned love into the ultimate tragedy.
The Apollo Lunar Module number 2
The Natural History Museum's new interactive learning space.
ʺIncreaseʺ and ʺdiffusionʺ aren't just words from Smithsonian's mission, they're also the names of two adorable owls that lived in the Smithsonian castle in the 1970s. This feathered duo popped by our castle towers on occasion for food and shelter and (we think) to check out our latest exhibitions.
Ancient bones from an endangered seabird, the Hawaiian petrel.
Dancers celebrate the Persian New Year at the Freer and Sackler Galleries.
If you're celebrating Oktoberfest, you better be thirsty! The difference in American and Bavarian pretzels lies in the use of lye to create the delicious and shiny outside of traditional pretzels. Yum!
A male purple-throated carib hummingbird.
Sugar skulls from a Day of the Dead celebration.
The bat collection at the National Museum of Natural History is the largest in the world. And all 140,000 bats in the collection help scientists go back in time to learn more about the diseases that threatened bat populations to try and save the bats of today.
Giant Pandas. Grizzlies. You’ve probably heard a lot about these bear species, but what about Andean bears? To the Quechua and Aymara, the indigenous communities of the Andes, Andean bears are known for being loving and happy, seeking harmony and balance in nature. They are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, with an estimated 20,000 left in the wild.
National Postal Museum Atrium
The ensemble worn by Marian Anderson for her historic concert at the Lincoln Memorial.
A Norway Rat at the Smithsonian's National Zoo.
Owney the dog! This adorable pup became a regular fixture at the Albany, New York, post office in 1888. His owner was likely a postal clerk who let Owney walk him to work.
The variety of planets being detected by NASA's Kepler spacecraft.
“Stephanocyathus (A.) spiniger,” a solitary, deep-water coral species.
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.
Meteorites at the Smithsonian. From slicing them open to expose their inner secrets to revealing how one emperor used a meteorite to make blades for his ceremonial weapons—Smithsonian experts study meteorites from many angles.
The Freer Gallery's renowned Peacock Room.
A Volkswagen Beetle named "Vochol®" was decorated by indigenous craftsmen.
The Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden.
A Jungle Nymph at the O. Orkin Insect Zoo.
Orchids. With their beauty, mystery and deceit, the Smithsonian's collection of nearly 8,000 live orchids try every trick in the book just to get pollinated.
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.
A witch hazel tree in Smithsonian's Ripley Garden.
A guitar from Smithsonian's vast musical instrument collection.
Presidents and prehistoric swimming: Discover sloths in a whole new way!
Join Smithsonian's National Zoo keeper, Stacey Tabellario, as she shows us why enrichment activities for our Asian Small-Clawed Otters are so important.
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.
The Smithsonian honors the musical legacy of Coltrane during Jazz Appreciation month.
Staff from Smithsonian Gardens show us plants that smell good enough to eat!
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the passenger pigeon’s extinction.
Happy American Archives Month! The Smithsonian Institution Archives staff show us how the Smithsonian has been crowd sourcing for 165 years.
May 2014 marks the 75th anniversary of Batman’s debut with DC Comics.
70% of the world's people live in the coastal zone. Join the fight for this guy.
Lady slipper orchids are just some of the varieties in the exhibition “Orchids of Latin America.”
Natural chocolate is actually a reddish color. Chocolate didn't turn brown until chemists got their hands on it.
This is the smallest shark, a dwarf lantern shark – smaller than a person's hand!
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 considered to be the script for the first computer program.
This folk art guitar has a two chambers for stashing strings, picks or snacks
Venus fly-trap anemone, deep in the Gulf of Mexico
Abraham Lincoln's life mask by sculptor Clark Mills, 1865
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.
Hokusai’s Mt. Fuji: an icon in Japanese art