Lonnie G. Bunch III to Become the Smithsonian’s 14th Secretary

The Smithsonian today named Lonnie G. Bunch III as the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Bunch is the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), a position he has held since 2005. Prior to that, Bunch served as the president of the Chicago Historical Society. He succeeds David […]

Washington Becomes First State to Allow ‘Human Composting’ as a Burial Method

Editor’s Note, May 23, 2019 : Washington has become the first state to legalize “natural organic reduction,” an accelerated decomposition method that transforms remains into soil, reports Gene Johnson for Associated Press . Also known as “human composting” or “recomposition,” the process takes between four to seven weeks and produces roughly a cubic yard of […]

Didn’t Make the National Spelling Bee? Play the Smithsonian Spelling Bee

We present a list of some of the toughest words to spell, pulled straight from the collections P-R-Z-E-… aw, forget it. P-horse! (National Zoo) smithsonian.com June 1, 2011 | Updated: May 17, 2019 7:25PM Editor’s Note, May 17, 2019: The 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee is upon us. In honor of the annual competition, taking […]

I.M. Pei Dies at 102 Years Old. Here Are Some of His Essential Buildings

SmartNews Keeping you current The architect changed the way the world sees itself The Louvre Pyramid is arguably the architect’s best-known work. (JOHN KELLERMAN / Alamy Stock Photo ) smithsonian.com April 27, 2017 | Updated: May 16, 2019 Editor’s note: According to news reports, the architect I.M. Pei died on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, at […]

From the Archives: Pete Seeger on What Makes a Great Protest Song

Editor’s Note, May 3, 2019: In honor of Pete Seeger’s 100th anniversary Smithsonian Folkways has released the definitive, career-spanning six-CD anthology, titled  Pete Seeger, which celebrates the singer/songwriter with 20 previously unreleased tracks and live performances. A 200-page compendium of Seeger’s essays and commentary, organized by Smithsonian archivist and curator Jeff Place, includes historic photographs and liner notes. To honor […]

Historic Notre-Dame Cathedral Salvaged From Blaze

SmartNews Keeping you current After a tense few hours, firefighters announce they saved the landmark from ‘total destruction’ A firefighter is seen fighting the flames at Notre-Dame Cathedral on April 15, 2019 (Pierre Suu/Getty Images) smithsonian.com April 15, 2019 4:11PM | Updated: April 15, 2019 11:13PM Update, 7:10 P.M. EST, April 15, 2019: French President […]

Meet the Female Inventor Behind Mass-Market Paper Bags

Update, March 28, 2019: Listen to the story of Margaret Knight in this podcast episode from American Innovations “XX Factor” series that was developed in a partnership between Smithsonian magazine and Wondery. It’s natural to think about the processes that produced the food in your daily sack lunch, but have you ever stopped to consider […]

NASA Cancels First All-Female Spacewalk Due to Spacesuit Size Issues

SmartNews Keeping you current NASA didn’t have two properly fitting and space-ready suits for both women For the first time, two female astronauts will conduct routine tests outside the International Space Station later this month while a team of women at NASA direct the work from the ground. Left: Christina Hammock Koch; Right: Anne McClain […]

Greek Lawmakers Approve Macedonia’s New Name

SmartNews Keeping you current The decision brings an end to a 27-year-old conflict and paves the way for the Republic of North Macedonia to join the NATO alliance Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, left, speaks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras prior to meeting on the sidelines of EU and Western Balkan heads of state […]

Joshua Tree National Park Closes Due to Damage to Namesake Trees

SmartNews Keeping you current Many national parks remain understaffed during the government shutdown while instances of vandalism and destruction rise (Shay Spatz/National Park Service) smithsonian.com January 2, 2019 | Updated: January 8, 2019 10:13PM Editor’s Note, January 8, 2019: The Associated Press reports that Joshua Tree National Park will be temporarily closed to visitors due to […]

Hike in the Footsteps of Teddy Roosevelt

When Theodore Roosevelt took office as the United States’ 26th president, he was only 42, the youngest president in the history of the nation. He was also a fanatic for the outdoors, and was actually heading back from a hike when his predecessor, President William McKinley, took a turn for the worst after an assassination […]

Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo Close for the U.S. Government Shutdown

Museum buildings and research centers shuttered, most federal employees furloughed, while excepted Zoo staff continue care of the animals All programs and events will be postponed, relocated to non-federal locations or cancelled. All Smithsonian facilities will remain shuttered until the federal government reopens. (Smithsonian Institution) smithsonian.com December 27, 2018 | Updated: an hour ago Editor’s […]

From Opossums to Bologna: Weird Things Cities Drop on New Year’s Eve

Who needs a ball? Cities get creative on New Year’s Eve by dropping objects that reflect local products and culture The Watermelon Drop in Vincennes, Indiana (Vincennes) smithsonian.com December 31, 2014 | Updated: December 31, 2018 7:33PM Around the world, the dawn of a new calendar year is often met with bright fireworks, a little […]

Why the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Makes for a Complicated History

Editor’s Note, December 21, 2018: After receiving much critical feedback on this story, we’ve asked the writer to expand on his thinking and to provide the fuller picture of the legacy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. The text below has been updated in multiple places and the headline has been updated as well. One […]

Seven Places Reinventing the Christmas Tree

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas as people deck their halls with fir, pine, spruce and other popular conifers. But for some, having a lush evergreen as their holiday showpiece just isn’t enough. Across the country, people are innovating by taking their holiday decorating skills to the next level and using whatever materials […]