February 9, 2011
Business Plan—Calling all business execs and start-up ventures. Get in at the bottom on this deal. The National Museum of American History is planning a new exhibition on the history of business and innovation and is looking for your help. The museum has launched a site, American Enterprise, so that anybody with a good idea can log in and help plan the exhibit. Curators will blog about research trips and artifact collecting and you can offer tips on anything from artifacts to topics and even test ideas. The exhibit is slated to go on view in 2014.
Renaissance Man— In honor of Black History Month, The Bigger Picture remembers Solomon G. Brown, the first African-American to work at the Smithsonian. Brown, born a free man in 1829, worked at the institution for more than 50 years, serving in a variety of capacities, including: building exhibit cases, moving and cleaning furniture, and helping prepare maps and drawings for lectures. Learn more about Brown’s life and work at the Smithsonian, including his close relationship with the second Smithsonian Secretary, Spencer F. Baird, in the first in a series of related posts this month.
What Goes Up— What happens when you drop 200 paper planes from “the edge of space?” Well, that’s what Project Space Planes is trying to find out. The team dropped the planes, each containing a memory card with a message for the person who finds it, back in January. They are hoping to see a) whether the memory cards are tough enough to survive the journey and, b) how far the planes travel. Check out their site for more information and updates on the project. Thanks to the team over at The Daily Planet for the heads up.
Artists on Art— The Archives of American Art has made available excerpts from its oral history interviews with artists like: Robert Bechtle, Judy Chicago, Dennis Oppenheim and Joan Snyder. Hear their thoughts on photography, controversy, public vs. studio art and changes in their work. In addition to the podcasts, summaries of each interview, as well as transcripts of the conversations are available online.
February 1, 2011
You’ve never seen a Whistler this way before.
As a part of the newly announced Google Art Project, the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art is giving art lovers an up close and personal look at James McNeill Whistler’s “The Princess from the Land of Porcelain” along with 16 other works of art from museums around the world, including Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” Rousseau’s “The Sleeping Gypsy” and Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus.” Each is comprised of over 7 billion pixels, allowing visitors to the project to view each brushstroke and even see what sort of canvas was used.
In addition to these “gigapixel” paintings, the project uses the Google Street View technology to provide a tour of the inside of some of the world’s most famous museums. As for the Freer Gallery, the museum contributed additional works for browsing, from more Whistlers to Japanese prints to ancient Buddhas. Now, on frigid days like today, you can hole up in your home and tour the collections of the Freer (not to mention the Ufizzi, MoMA, the Met, Tate Modern and more) from the comforts of your sofa.
“I think they were keen to have one of the Smithsonian museums involved and I was extremely keen because it seems to me that at least some aspects of this are a game-changer for the way that museums approach the Web,” said Julian Raby, director of the Freer and Sackler Galleries. “The gigapixel allows you to see elements that you would really never ever see, certainly in traditional means of reproduction. You might see the crackle in the oil of a painting, you can sense the brushstroke in the artist’s hand and energy, you can see narrative details you would never see otherwise.”
Raby is convinced that endeavors such as the Google Art Project will increase interest in visiting art museums. “The traditional thing has been to say that any form of surrogate photograph, video, film will mean that people won’t come to the museums; actually, the experience is quite the opposite. In this particular case, I think it will create a sense of fascination that will engage completely new audiences.”
–additional reporting done by Arcynta Ali Childs
January 19, 2011
And the Gold Medal Goes To— What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten on a dare? Well, how about 101 goldfish? That’s the record for the largest number eaten in a single sitting, set back in April 1939, when goldfish gulping was a competitive collegiate sport. Check out the piscine cuisine over at O Say Can You See and see where your alma mater stood.
Dreaming in Outer Space — I’m sure we all thought we’d be flying cars by 2011 and possibly even living on another planet. Well, we may have to keep dreaming about that, but space travel for the common man may not be as far off as you think. Space Adventures, a Virginia-based company that organized the flights for the first “private space explorers,” plans to begin offering seats on the Soyuz spacecraft to commercial customers as soon as 2013. Next stop, the International Space Station. The Daily Planet has more details.
What’s in a Name? — There’s an insightful conversation happening over on the National Museum of the American Indian blog. Dennis Zotigh, a researcher and historian who also acts as a liaison for the museum, fields a lot of questions in his role as a cultural ambassador. He shares his answer to a popular one— “What do we call you, American Indian or Native American?” and invites readers to chime in. Join the discussion.
September 8, 2010
We here at ATM are pleased to relay an exciting announcement made by District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty and District Chief Technology Officer Bryan Sivak today: new outdoor hotspots provide free Wi-Fi coverage on the National Mall, from 3rd Street to 14th Street!
That’s right. Anyone with a laptop or other Wi-Fi-capable device can surf the Internet for free from this portion of the National Mall between the Capitol and the Washington Monument. The Smithsonian Institution was one of several federal partners, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. General Services Administration and the National Gallery of Art, as well as companies in the private sector, that helped get this service off the ground. The National Museum of the American Indian, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of American History—as well as nearby sites like the National Gallery of Art and the U.S. Department of Agriculture—are all hotspots.
“Now anyone can enhance the experience of a tourist visit, work break or fitness walk on the Mall with all the rich resources available on the Internet—information, music, maps, video and more,” said Chief Technology Officer Sivak, in a press release. “This is one more example of how we’re deploying technology to make life and work for residents, businesses and visitors more convenient, efficient and fun.”
Expanding coverage to the National Mall is part of a larger free wireless Internet initiative in the District, and the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) has created a handy map that identifies the names and addresses of the nearly 220 hotspots that have sprung up in District government and outdoor sites throughout the capital.
Now you have no excuse for not knowing about Around the Mall coverage when you visit the Smithsonian museums!
December 24, 2009
Twas the Night Before Christmas
and here on the Mall,
Not a creature is stirring in the museum’s vast halls
Full of objects and trinkets selected with care
By curators hoping you’d all soon be there.
Alas and alack, one day of the year,
The Smithsonian closes. But don’t shed a tear—
The day after Christmas the doors will swing wide
To let you all in. But until then, enjoy a few slides.
(Well really, they’re photos–you know what we mean)
Of gardens and buildings that look really keen
They’re all gussied up for the holiday season.
We’re pretty darn sure you’ll find them appeasing.