In case you missed it, NASA announced today – the 30th anniversary of the space shuttle program and the 50th anniversary of the first manned spaceflight by Russian Yuri Gagarin – that the space shuttle Discovery will make its final home at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center as part of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum collection. The 27 year-old orbiter is the longest-serving shuttle of the retiring space fleet and has flown every type of mission during its career.
It will take a place of honor that is currently occupied by the Enterprise as the original ‘test’ orbiter relocates to its new home at the Intrepid Museum in New York City. The Enterprise has been in place since the opening of the center in 2003.
Discovery flew a total of 39 missions, from satellite deliveries to the Hubble, DoD projects to the Russian space station Mir. It retired after returning to Earth on March 9. The venerable orbiter has spent a total of 365 days in space and flown a number of special missions, including the 100th shuttle mission in 2000 and was the first shuttle to fly under an African-American commander.
It will be several months before Discovery is delivered to Udvar-Hazy. “An acquisition of this importance happens rarely in the life of a museum,” said Air and Space curator Dr. Valerie Neal. “It is an honor and privilege to welcome Discovery into the national collection, where it will be displayed, preserved, and cared for forever.”
In response to public demand, the Smithsonian American Art Museum has extended the deadline for public voting for the video games to be featured in its upcoming exhibition, “The Art of Video Games.” The voting period, originally scheduled to end April 7, now will close at midnight, Sunday, April 17.
The website offers participants a chance to vote for 80 games from a pool of 240 proposed choices in various categories, divided by era, game type and platform. More than three million votes have been cast since the voting site launched Feb. 14. A valid e-mail address is required to vote.
The winning games will be announced publicly Thursday, May 5. Anyone who registered to vote will receive advance notification of the winning games, as well as monthly updates and special behind-the-scenes offers leading up to the exhibition opening in Washington, D.C. and throughout the run of the exhibition.
“The Art of Video Games” is the first to explore the 40-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, with a focus on striking visual effects and the creative use of new technologies. Chris Melissinos, founder of Past Pixels and collector of video games and gaming systems, is the curator of the exhibition. The exhibition will be on display at the museum from March 16, 2012 through Sept. 30, 2012; it then will travel to multiple venues in the United States.
As spring unfolds in DC and the cherry blossoms begin to bloom, the crowds will come to the Tidal Basin area. So if you’re looking for something else to do in town to avoid the tourista hordes, check out some of the great programs at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum and the National Museum of the American Indian.
This month at SAAM:
Women Building History: Public Art at the 1893 Columbian Exposition March 3, 7 p.m.
Wanda Corn describes the neoclassical Woman’s Building at the 1893 Exposition in Chicago—which celebrated modern woman’s progress in education, the arts, and science at the end of the nineteenth century—and how the building’s content was used to promote the expansion of opportunities for women. A book signing follows.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is inviting the public to help select the video games that will be included in its upcoming exhibition “The Art of Video Games,” which opens in Washington, DC on March 16, 2012. Voting is taking place online beginning today and running through April 7. A valid e-mail address is the only requirement to vote.
The exhibition is the first to explore the 40-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, with a focus on striking visual effects and the creative use of new technologies. Chris Melissinos, founder of Past Pixels and collector of video games and gaming systems, is the curator of the exhibition.
The website offers participants a chance to vote for 80 games from a pool of 240 proposed choices in various categories, divided by era, game type, and platform; winning games will be displayed in the exhibition as screen shots and short video clips. The website includes an online forum where gaming enthusiasts can campaign for particular games and voice their opinions about the selections. The games on the voting site were selected for their graphic excellence, artistic intent, and innovative game design. Results will be available online in May. Continue reading →
I love Flickr. Here at We Love DC, we all love Flickr. Without your contributions to our pool, the site would be a lot less colorful. But one of my favorite things about Flickr is The Commons, where museums of the world post selections of their historic photography collections. It can be fun sometimes to spend an hour or two lost in a long-ago world, made all the more enlightening because so many of those photos show scenes of our very city: Washington. As we recover from last week’s snowstorm and as we’re currently dealing with another mess of a weather pattern, it seems like the right time to take a look back at how Washingtonians of the past dealt with winter.
In response to the removal of the David Wojnarowicz video from the National Portrait Gallery’s “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” exhibit, protesters gathered today in front of the Smithsonian Castle demanding the removal (or resignation) of Secretary Wayne Clough. While the media to protester ratio was nearly one to one, the group’s collective voice was no doubt heard by the ears of the Smithsonian. Organized by the New York based art action group “Art Positive“, the protesters marched and chanted in hopes that Clough be removed from his position and the video, “A Fire in My Belly”, be returned to the exhibit. While it’s unlikely that Clough will step down from his position, it’s clear that this controversy is far from over.
One of the greatest things about living in DC is the proximity of so many great museums. Always wanted to be a spy? Fascinated by textiles? Love American military medicine? DC is your place. And while you might not be fighting the crowds at every museum (I don’t see huge lines at the National Museum of American Jewish Military History, for example), some museums are huge tourist attractions. Ever wondered what the most popular museums in the city are? And how many objects, art, and specimens the Smithsonian Institution has? Or when the best time to visit a museum is?
Derek A. Bencomo, Hana Valley, First View from the Peaks and Valleys Series, 1997, milowood, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Fleur and Charles Bresler in honor of Kenneth R. Trapp, curator-in-charge of the Renwick Gallery (1995--2003); photo courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum
Kermit the Frog and Oscar the Grouch have long been popular attractions at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. On Wednesday morning, courtesy of a donation by Jane Henson and the rest of the Jim Henson family, they gained a few new fuzzy friends: the original puppets used in “Sam and Friends,” one of Jim Henson’s earliest TV projects.
Ahh, the Star-Spangled Banner. It symbolizes a great many things about our country and our city: freedom, war, resurrection, preservation, complicated photography policies …
Often the subject of discussion among the DC photo rights crowd, the Smithsonian’s ban on photos of the Star-Spangled Banner was put in place in 2008 after the renovation of the American History Museum. The flag got a shiny new home and display case, and tourists got a shiny new rule. The Smithsonian is a generally photo-friendly place, so when it does break out the ban-hammer without explaining why, speculation can run rampant. (Among the crazier theories: the renovation was expensive, and the need to sell postcards so great, that they couldn’t let people create their own memories, not when there were trinkets to sell!) Continue reading →
American Craft Masterpieces – Kim Schmahmann, Bureau of Bureaucracy, 1993-1999, courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum
August promises to be chock full of events at many museums around town as the summer heat continues to build. Check out what’s going on down at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) during the dog days of August; all programs are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. The SAAM is located over in Penn Quarter at 8th and F Streets, NW.
Conservation Clinic (Aug 4; by appointment only)
Questions about the condition of a painting, frame, drawing, print, or sculpture? American Art conservators are available by appointment for consultation about the preservation of privately-owned art. To request an appointment or to learn more, email DWRCLunder@si.edu and specify CLINIC in the subject line.
Book Talk & Signing: “Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera” (Aug 5, 6:30pm)
Many of Rockwell’s most memorable characters were friends and neighbors who served as amateur models. Author Ron Schick discusses how Rockwell acted as director — carefully orchestrating models, selecting props, and choosing locations for the photographs that served as the basis of his iconic images. Book signing follows. (This is a part of the SAAM’s comprehensive Rockwell & the Movies exhibition.)
The exhibition – only being shown here in DC – is the first to plumb the depths of the connections between Rockwell’s images of American life and the movies. Between Rockwell’s work and the movies of Lucas and Spielberg, the themes of patriotism, small-town values, children growing up, unlikely heroes, imaginations, and life’s ironies are portrayed between canvas and film. “Ultimately, looking at Rockwell in terms of the movies opens a whole new way of understanding his work for the public,” said senior curator and exhibition organizer Virginia Mecklenburg, “but also for scholars interested in American popular and visual culture in the middle of the 20th century.”
Most of us in DC know we’re lucky to have the Smithsonian in our backyard. Its museums are free, they cater to the nerd/art lover/history buff/curious tourist in all of us, and they’re right here for all of us to enjoy. Now, thanks to what looks like a pretty darn cool online initiative called Smithsonian Commons, they’re about to take all awesome culture locked up in their walls and go global.
Anyway, boy was I wrong. Based on this behind-the-scenes video where the former U.S. Secretary of State talks candidly about five of her featured pins, I have decided that this may actually be some pretty interesting stuff. What do you think?
Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection will be on view through October 11th at the Smithsonian Castle.
Smithsonian Castle is located at 1000 Jefferson Drive SW.
There is an app for everything these days, so it is no surprise that the Hirshhorn decided to join in all of the fun. The Hirshhorn has launched the mobile application for “Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers” as the “first mobile application offered to the public by a Smithsonian art museum”. The Klein app is available on iTunes for a price of 99 cents and “provides users with a full overview of the exhibition”.
Once you check out the new iTunes app (and, of course, my recent review of the exhibit) and like what you see then perhaps you would be interested in heading over to the museum tonight in order to hear Klein’s wife, assistant, model, and muse, Rotraut Klein-Moquay discuss his life and works.
In Conversation will be held tonight at 7 PM in the Ring Auditorium.
The National Mall is a place I don’t visit nearly often enough. Today was an exception to that. A childhood friend of mine surprised me with a call Friday afternoon saying she’d be in town for the weekend and wanted to picnic on the Mall — during the KITE FESTIVAL!
Thanks to her, I got to play tourist for a day (something I haven’t done for a very long time). Here are some highlights from the Smithsonian’s Kite Festival and parading about the National Mall after the page break Continue reading →
So like me you’ve waited until the last second and now you’ve got to hazard the crowded shops and DC streets to finish up your Christmas shopping. You’re fairly limited with online shopping opportunities, you have no time for brainstorming, and you’ve got a gazillion other things to do, so you’ve got to put your nose to the grind stone and pound these last little (or big) tidbits out. Lucky for you, and me, there are plenty of cool DC-related gifties out there waiting to be scooped up.
Many of us will be heading through Union Station today and the shops there offer some fantastic last minute gift pick up opportunities. You can find historic memorabilia and inauguration items at America!’s Spirit, or small paintings, pottery and jewelry at Echo Gallery Mezzanine Kiosk, or perhaps Lids, where you can pick up a Redskins or Capitals branded baseball cap. There’s also a solid wine and spirits shop that can provide that much needed Jameson for eggnog or bottle of bubbly for Christmas morning drinkypoos. These shops are a hurried travelers delight and are definitely worth checking out, if you’re still gift hunting or needing to fill up those stockings. Continue reading →
The holidays are a time of excess, from decorations and food to parades and retail displays. We splurge on gifts, we make rich feasts for friends and family; we gather close to the people we love, seeking comfort in midwinter. The Smithsonian invited Santa & Mrs. Clause and Twinkle the Elf to the National Museum of American History to open a new small exhibit on the Holidays. Focused on Parades of all seasons, from Tournament of Roses through to Macy’s Thanksgiving, and the retail window displays of department stores (something of a relic to those of us under 40) all across the US, the new exhibit has photos and artifacts from holiday celebrations across the country.
The exhibit is fairly small, just a couple rooms, but what’s contained therein will snap you right out of your Fall Funk and propel you right into Holiday prep. On Wednesday, I was grumpy as hell, seeing the Wal-mart Christmas ads on television already, but last night, that disappointment was absent. Was it the joy in the kids’ eyes, watching Mrs. Claus read a story? Maybe it melted my grinchy heart. Holidays on Display runs for a whole year, on the Third floor, on the West side of the museum.
There’s a companion volume of the same name put out by the museum that has some fascinating history that’s DC-specific, including whole sections on the displays at Woodward & Lothrop, which were deeply memorable. Look for an interview with Mr. Bird in the coming weeks.
This here is Pickles, a green and very talkative rose-ringed parakeet last seen in a tree in the Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle. Pickles’ owner Scott likes to take the bird on his shoulder, pirate-style, for walks around the National Mall on weekends, and on nice days, perch Pickles on tree branches in the Gardens to let him get some nature.