New Research on the Ghent Altarpiece Validates Restorers’ Rendering of the Mystic Lamb’s Alarmingly Humanoid Face

Editor’s Note, July 31, 2020:A new study published in the journal Science Advances confirms that a viral—and widely mocked—restoration of Jan and Hubert van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece adheres to the artists’ original intentions. “The Eyckian face of the [Mystic] Lamb had forward-gazing eyes and effectively a shorter muzzle than the 16th-century restorer’s overpainted face,” the […]

Arsonist Confesses to Starting Nantes Cathedral Fire

Editor’s Note, July 28, 2020:A volunteer caretaker has confessed to starting a July 18 fire at Nantes Cathedral, reports Agence France-Presse. Authorities had previously questioned and released the 39-year-old Rwandan refugee, who was tasked with locking up the historic church on the day before the blaze. The arsonist’s motive is still unclear. He now faces […]

After Retiring Its Racist Name, D.C. Football Team Announces Temporary Moniker

Editor’s Note, July 23, 2020:The capital’s National Football League (NFL) franchise is rebranding as the “Washington Football Team,” reports Adam Schefter for ESPN. The announcement follows the team’s July 13 decision to retire its former name, which is widely considered to be a racial slur. “For updated brand clarity and consistency purposes, we will call […]

The Feminist History of ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’

Described by Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Caray as “a song that reflects the charisma of baseball,” ”Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” written in 1908 by lyricist Jack Norworth and composer Albert von Tilzer, is inextricably linked to America’s national pastime. But while most Americans can sing along as baseball fans “root, root, […]

How Milton Glaser Came to Design the Iconic Poster of Bob Dylan

Editor’s note, June 28, 2020: Graphic designer Milton Glaser died on Friday, June 26, 2020, on his 91st birthday. In 2010, we explored one of Glaser’s most famous creations: the Bob Dylan poster now in the collections of the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. In the art world, posters occupy a middle ground between paintings and […]

Juneteenth: Our Other Independence Day

Two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, American slavery came to an end and a celebration of freedom was born Juneteenth celebration in 1900 at Eastwoods Park. (Austin History Center (via NMAAHC)) By Kenneth C. Davis smithsonianmag.com June 15, 2011 | Updated: June 12, 2020 10:57AM Since this article was first published in 2011, Juneteenth celebrations […]

Legislation Declaring Lynching a Federal Crime Hits New Roadblock

Editor’s Note, June 4, 2020:In February, the House of Representatives passed legislation declaring lynching a federal crime. The measure appeared poised to pass through the Senate uncontested—then, reports Zach C. Cohen for the National Journal, Republican Sen. Rand Paul placed a hold on the bill. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to conflate someone […]

The Long, Painful History of Police Brutality in the U.S.

Editor’s Note, May 29, 2020: In 2017,  Smithsonian covered the history of police brutality upon the protests over the verdict in the Philando Castile murder case. With the Twin Cities once again under the national spotlight after the killing of George Floyd, we revisit the subject matter below.  Last month, hours after a jury acquitted former police […]

First Rocket Launch From U.S. Soil in Nine Years Postponed

Editor’s Note, May 27, 2020: Due to poor weather conditions, the SpaceX shuttle launch slated for this afternoon has been postponed to Saturday, May 30. The launch would have been the first to blast off from United States soil in nine years. The last space shuttle flight launched on July 8, 2011, from Kennedy Space Center’s […]