When Republicans Were Blue and Democrats Were Red

Television’s first dynamic, color-coded presidential map, standing two stories high in the studio best known as the home to “Saturday Night Live,” was melting. It was early October, 1976, the month before the map was to debut—live—on election night. At the urging of anchor John Chancellor, NBC had constructed the behemoth map to illustrate, in […]

A Jumbo Jet Among Bears, 747 Soars to Top Spot in Fat Bear Week

Editor’s note, October 7, 2020: On Tuesday, October 6, the crowd has spoken and 747 was named the biggest, brawniest bruin of Katmai National Park’s Fat Bear Week. May his hard work packing on pounds pay off in the form of a snuggly slumber during his winter hibernation. It’s Fat Bear Week, and that means […]

Archaeologists Unearth Foundations of One of the Nation’s Oldest Black Churches

Editor’s Note, October 7, 2020: Excavations in Colonial Williamsburg have revealed the intact foundations of one of the United States’ oldest black churches, reports Alex Perry for theVirginia Gazette. In addition to unearthing the First Baptist Church’s 19th-century foundations, archaeologists found a smaller brick structure that predates the 1856 building. Read more about the dig—and […]

Eddie Van Halen on How Necessity Drives Innovation

Editor’s Note, October 6, 2020:Rock legend Eddie Van Halen has died of cancer at age 65, his son, Wolfgang, announced on Twitter. “[M]y father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, … lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning,” wrote Wolfgang in the statement. “He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every […]

Historic Brooklyn Cemetery Appoints Its First Artist-in-Residence

Editor’s Note, October 5, 2020:The Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn has appointed ceramicist Heidi Lau as its first-ever artist in residence, according to a statement. “I am very excited about developing a project at Green-Wood because for the past few years, my work has been deeply engaged with mourning rituals, burial monuments, and belief systems regarding […]

The History of ‘Stolen’ Supreme Court Seats

Editor’s Note, September 25, 2020: This article was published after Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court expired after Senate Republicans declined to hold a vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee because it was an election year. As controversy continues over the push to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in another election year, […]

Trove of 27 Sealed Sarcophagi Unearthed in Egypt

SmartNews Keeping you current Authorities say the 2,500-year-old coffins, found during excavations at the Saqqara necropolis, have likely remained unopened for millennia One of the 14 sealed coffins found at the Saqqara necropolis (Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities) smithsonianmag.com September 10, 2020 | Updated: 2 hours ago Editor’s Note, September 22, 2020: On Saturday, […]

Here’s What’s New to Explore as Smithsonian Museums Reopen

Later this week, on September 25, the Smithsonian Institution will begin the next phase of its gradual reopening process by welcoming visitors back to two additional museums: the National Museum of American History and National Museum of the American Indian, both located on the National Mall. They will join six already-open museums and galleries, including […]

What Made Ed Bearss a Rock Star of Civil War History

Editor’s Note, September 21, 2020: On September 15, 2020, Ed Bearss died at the age of 97. In 2005, we profiled Bearss has part of a special section called “35 Who Made a Difference.” Ed Bearss has what might best be called a battlefield voice, a kind of booming growl, like an ancient wax-cylinder record […]

The Infamous Art Basel Banana Is Headed to the Guggenheim

Editor’s Note, September 21, 2020:Last year, Maurizio Cattelan’s controversial Comedian—an artwork consisting of a banana taped to a wall—fetched as much as $150,000 at Art Basel Miami Beach. Now, the irreverent installation is headed to a new home: the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. “We are grateful recipients of the gift of […]

This Mastodon Is a Centerpiece of an Art Exhibition. Why?

SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | May 1, 2020, 9 a.m. It’s not what you’d expect from an art show. At the end of a long corridor, beyond a pulled-back heavy burgundy brocade curtain, a full-scale mastodon skeleton fills much of the rotunda-like space of the gallery. The fossil is the centerpiece of “Alexander von Humboldt and the United […]

London’s Largest Cache of Bronze Age Objects Is on View for the First Time

Editor’s Note, September 11, 2020:Archaeology enthusiasts can now see the Havering Hoard—a trove of 453 Bronze Age artifacts unearthed in London in 2018—in person for the first time. Per a statement, the collection of axe heads, sword fragments and other ancient objects will be on view at the Museum of London Docklands through April 18, […]

The Top 10 Political Conventions That Mattered the Most

Will there be a virtual balloon-drop? That is about the only intrigue left when it comes to what will happen at this year’s national political conventions. Even more so than usual, the chance for high drama at the twin events is largely zero. Not just because both the Democrats and the Republicans have chosen their […]