April 17, 2013
On April 16, Smithsonian Institution Secretary G. Wayne Clough testified before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about the impending effects of sequestration. Though the Obama administration had sought a $59 million budget increase for the Institution in fiscal 2014, this year Clough has to contend with a $41 million budget reduction due to sequestration. Gallery closings, fewer exhibitions, reduced educational offerings, loss of funding for research and cuts to the planning process of the under-construction National Museum of African American History and Culture were listed among the impacts of the sequestration.
Clough began his testimony: “Each year millions of our fellow citizens come to Washington to visit—for free—our great museums and galleries and the National Zoo, all of which are open every day of the year but one. Our visitors come with high aspirations to learn and be inspired by our exhibitions and programs.”
“It is my hope,” Clough told the committee, “that our spring visitors will not notice the impact of the sequestration.” Perhaps most noticeable would be the gallery closures, which, while they would not close entire museums, would restrict access to certain floors or spaces in the museums, unable to pay for sufficient security. Those changes would begin May 1, according to Clough.
Clough warned, however, that while these short-term measures will save in the near future, they might also entail long-term consequences. Unforeseen costs may arise in the form of diminished maintenance capabilities, for example. “Any delays in revitalization or construction projects will certainly result in higher future operating and repair costs,” Clough said.
This also threatens the Institution’s role as steward of thousands of historic and valuable artifacts–”Morse’s telegraph; Edison’s light bulb; the Salk vaccine; the 1865 telescope designed by Maria Mitchell, America’s first woman astronomer who discovered a comet; the Wright Flyer; Amelia Earhart’s plane; Louis Armstrong’s trumpet; the jacket of labor leader Cesar Chavez,” to name a few.
May 21, 2012
Tuesday, May 22 Shade-grown Coffee
Ever wonder where your morning cup comes from? Some coffee is “shade-grown,” meaning the coffee farms double as a sanctuary for migratory birds in winter. These coffee farms, which grow their plants under a canopy of trees, are often in areas that have suffered deforestation, making them all the more vital as refuges for these birds. Scientists at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) have developed the only 100 percent organic shade-grown certification to encourage the expansion of this kind of agriculture. Try a cup of shade-grown coffee while Robert Rice, research scientist at the SMBC, and Andy Sprenger, head roaster at Ceremony Coffee Roasters, explain its importance to biodiversity and sustainability. $40 for general admission, $30 for members. 10:00 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. S. Dillon Ripley Center.
Wednesday, May 23 Public Observatory Project
As the weather gets warmer, the Public Observatory staff heads outside most Wednesday afternoons through June. Look through the portable 16-inch telescope to discover craters on the moon, spots on the sun (using safe solar filters), and other wonders of the universe in broad daylight. The sun is approaching the active portion of its 11-year cycle, so visitors these days are now more likely to catch a glimpse of an interesting feature. Free. 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Air and Space Museum.
Thursday, May 24 Tot Rock
Get your kids up and moving to the beat with singer-songwriter Shawana Kemp and guitarist John Heagle. Together they are Shine and the Moonbeams, a soulful, groove-happy R&B musical team perfect for children ages 2 to 6. The dance party has something for grown-ups, too: the Virginia coffee shop Jammin’ Java will be slinging complimentary joe and snacks. $6, or $3 for children under 2. 10:15 a.m. Discovery Theater.
April 16, 2012
Tuesday, April 17 Just a Dream: the Green Play
Kids of all ages will love the story of Walter the litterbug, whose wacky journey takes him through the steps needed to protect the environment. Just a Dream uses puppets, live theater and special effects to teach children eco-friendly practices and the importance of preserving the planet. $8 for general admission, $6 for children, $5 for members. Buy tickets here. 10:15 a.m. Discovery Theater.
Wednesday, April 18 Craft Show Benefit
Celebrate the 30th year of the Smithsonian Craft Show, widely considered to be the nation’s most prestigious juried exhibition of American crafts. The Preview Night Benefit presents an exhibition of the work of 121 artists, 44 of whom are new to the show this year. Come meet the artists, enjoy a cocktail buffet, and start shopping the rich selection of one-of-a-kind ceramics, furniture, glass and wearable art. $200. 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. National Building Museum.
Thursday, April 19 Claudia Acuña
Acclaimed Chilean singer/songwriter Claudia Acuña will perform original compositions in both Spanish and English in a Latin jazz concert. Acuña, as the New York Times’ Ben Ratcliff wrote, “sings in the tradition of the great ones. Her sound is her own.” Free. 6:30 p.m. American History Museum.
For a complete listing of Smithsonian events and exhibitions visit the goSmithsonian Visitors Guide. Additional reporting by Michelle Strange.
March 15, 2012
Weekend Events March 16-18: Evolution of Video Games, Saint Paddy Party, and Masterworks of Three Centuries
Friday, March 16 Evolution of Video Games
The much anticipated “Art of Video Games” exhibition kicks off on Friday with Gamefest, a three-day festival dedicated to all things pixelated. Curator Chris Melissinos will host two speaker panels on the evolution of video games. Some of the original game designers and most cutting edge innovators will discuss the past, present and future of the gaming world. Free. 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. American Art Museum.
Saturday, March 17 Saint Paddy Party
The whole family can celebrate the luck of the Irish with rollicking performances by Bog Band and champion Irish dancer Shannon Dunne. After the show, learn how to count sheep in Gaelic, make an acid and base rainbow, or plant a grasshead leprechaun. Don’t forget to wear green! $12 for general admission, $10 for members, $10 for children, $3 for children under 2. 12:00 p.m. Discovery Theater.
Sunday, March 18 Masterworks of Three Centuries
Celebrate the 35th season of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society with the latest concert in the Masterworks of Three Centuries series. Baritone William Sharp, praised by the New York Times as a “sensitive and subtle singer,” performs two ambitious lyrical works by Robert Schumann. $28 for general admission, $22 for members, $20 for senior members. Pre-concert talk at 6:30 p.m. Concert 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. American History Museum.
May 16, 2011
Monday, May 16 — Zoo feedings
What do zoo animals eat? Find out at the daily feedings, included in the Zoo’s daily calendar. Animal feedings take place every day, beginning at 10:15 AM with the fish feedings at the Kids’ Farm. Watch up to seven feedings a day, including the giant Pacific octopus at the Invertebrate House at 11:15 and 3; the sloth bears at 11:30 on the Asia Trail, and the small mammals at their house at 1:45. Don’t be late; the feedings last only 15 to 20 minutes. National Zoo
(By the way, the annual Zoofari fund-raising celebration takes place this Thursday May 19, from 6:30 to 9:30; beginning at noon, some areas of the Zoo will close for set up with the entire Zoo closing at 4 PM. Zoofari is sure to sell out. Buy your tickets today to avoid disappointment.)
Tuesday, May 17 — Civil War through the eyes of a child
Ever wonder what life was like for young African American girls during the Civil War? Addy Walker, of the popular American Girl doll series and heroine of the book, Meet Addy, is a nine-year old born into slavery. She escapes to freedom during the Civil War. Trace the events that underlie the story’s narrative using the museum’s downloadable guide, or pick one up free at the information desk. Claim a free gift at the gift shop when you complete the quest to have your guide stamped at each stop on the self-guided tour. Find more here about Addy’s World, or find online activities, or stop by the museum’s store to pick up your copy of the book Meet Addy. American History Museum
Wednesday, May 18 SHOUT online discussion
Can’t get to the museum today? Join three online discussions with four Smithsonian experts. Jonathan Thompson, a forest landscape ecologist from the Zoo’s Conservation Biology Institute updates us on the status of North American Forests. Senior conservation adviser Marshall Jones and program specialist Ana Tinsler, also with the Conservation Biology Institute discuss the Global Tiger Initiative, an alliance of governments and international organizations hoping to restore wild tigers and preserve their habitats. Lastly, researcher Sunshine Van Bael from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute will provide an overview of Tropical Biodiversity. Free, but pre-registration required. First discussion at 11:00 AM.
Thursday, May 19 ILL-Abilities Crew
A high-energy dance performance by a B-boy crew of dancers with physical “ill”abilities. The group defines the phrase as the “opposite of disability,” meaning that they create advantages from disadvantages. Two performances, 10:15 AM and 11:00 AM, for ages 4 and up. Tickets are required. Rates are $4 child member; $4 member; $5 child nonmember; $3 child under 2; $6 general admission. Tickets may be purchased online or at the Resident Associate Program box office located in the Ripley Center on the National Mall.
Friday, May 20 Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month at the Smithsonian
Friday’s events kickoff the weekend-long “Celebrate Hawai’i” festival at the Museum of the American Indian. The documentary Papa Mau: The Wayfinder follows a group of young Hawaiians on a mission to revive the traditional Polynesian arts of canoe-building and wayfinding, or non-instrument celestial navigation. The group’s search leads them to the island of Satawal in Micronesia and the master navigator Mau Piailug, who shares the ways of their ancestors aboard the voyaging canoe Hokule’a. Director Na’alehu Anthony will answer questions after the screening. A short film, Stones, will begin at 7:00 PM. Dinner is available at Mitsitam Cafe from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM. Free, but reservations are required.
Free events during the “Celebrate Hawai’i” cultural festival continue Saturday and Sunday, include hula performances and lessons, Hawaiian cooking demonstrations, films and discussions. 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM. National Museum of the American Indian