What is Seriously Amazing?

The Smithsonian is all about questions and answers, and the Smithsonian Seriously Amazing campaign brings those questions to life.

Tell us about your Smithsonian experience in person or online through the Smithsonian Twitter page at https://twitter.com/smithsonian using #seriouslyamazing.

What is an SI—Q?

What is an SI—Q?

The Smithsonian asks and answers questions every day about science, art, history and culture.

Look for the SI—Q symbol and ask and answer some questions along with us!

About Smithsonian

The Smithsonian asks and answers questions about science, art, history and culture, exciting the learning in everyone, every day.

Our experts share their ideas and our treasures through our museums, research centers and libraries; on our websites, magazines and media channels; and with partners across America and around the globe. We learn in all different ways, with all different kinds of people.

For more about how you can learn with Smithsonian, visit www.si.edu.

The Smithsonian relies on the generosity of people like you. Please support the Smithsonian today and help us bring alive our nation’s history, culture, art and science for people around the world.

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 ›

via smithsonian

smithsonian smithsonian

Don't know much about Andean bears? Here are 6 things you should know. #Peru2SI https://t.co/k37Fw4ePU1

27 days ago

SI—Q

How did a musician’s voice get lost?

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.

Listen to the legend of Lead Belly ›

SI—Q

Which flower is closely related to tomatoes?

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.

Download the free app today! ›

SI—Q

When did 140,000 bats turn into a time machine?

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.

Join Smithsonian Channel for a look at our bats ›

SI—Q

What do you know about Andean Bears?

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.

Visit the National Zoo to learn more ›

SI—Q

Which overly-dramatic teenagers did Shakespeare base Romeo and Juliet on?

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 original Romeo and Juliet ›

SI—Q

Which owls might have been smarter than Hedwig?

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.

Residents of a different feather ›

via smithsonian

smithsonian smithsonian

SI—Q

Are these pretzels making you thirsty?

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!

Prost! ›

SI—Q

How does war spark poetry?

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.

The war that changed poetry forever ›

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

A watershed moment ›

SI—Q

What pet became a national mascot?

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.

Tales from Owney's incredible journey ›

SI—Q

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 ›

SI—Q

What has given us water from Mars and daggers from India?

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.

Meteorites Rock! ›

SI—Q

What can mimic a bug or whack you in the face to get what it wants?

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.

Nine Ways to Lure a Lover—Orchid-Style ›

SI—Q

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 ›

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

SI—Q

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 ›

SI—Q

What plant smells good enough to eat?

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

American Cool ›

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 ›

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

SI—Q

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 ›

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 ›

SI—Q

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? ›

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

A primitive guitar ›

SI—Q

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 considered to be the script for the first computer program.

See more women in science from the Smithsonian ›

SI—Q

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 ›