December 5, 2012
The curators and researchers spend a lot of time reading, everything from classic novels to the latest exhibition catalog. We asked some of them to lend us their reading lists to see which titles rose to the top and why.
For the Art Connoisseurs:
Leslie Umberger, from the American Art Museum, recommends:
“James Castle: Show and Store, an exhibition catalogue produced by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sophia in 2011 brilliantly navigates the complex depths of Idaho artist James Castle (1899-1977). Fresh, insightful, and deeply moving, the images and essays explore a truly, astonishing, poetic and enigmatic body of work–drawings of soot, paper constructions, and carefully rendered books and letters–entirely in its own terms. Perfectly magical.”
Lisa Hostetler, from the American Art Museum, recommends:
“Photography Changes Everything, edited by Marvin Heiferman (Aperture/Smithsonian Institution, 2012). It’s an interesting look at the wide variety of ways that photographs are used and how photography itself has affected contemporary culture. Two exhibition catalogues that I’ve been looking forward to reading are Cindy Sherman (MoMA, 2012) and Rineke Dijkstra (Guggenheim, 2012). Sherman and Dijkstra are two of today’s most compelling artists, and these retrospectives are important compendia of their careers.”
Maya Foo, from the Freer and Sackler, recommends:
“Rome by Robert Hughes. In college, I studied art history in Rome and I have wanted to return to Italy ever since. Robert Hughes’ Rome is a readable and rich history of the city told through art, architecture, literature and the author’s personal narrative.”
For the Wordsmiths:
David Ward, from the National Portrait Gallery, recommends:
“What with the opening of Poetic Likeness at the museum this fall and co-editing Lines in Long Array: A Civil War Commemoration, which includes 12 newly commissioned poems, my mind has been mostly on poetry the last year or so. I have been especially taken by the following titles: First, work by two of the great “voices” in modern American poetry, one still vital even at 85, John Ashbery, and the other sadly gone, Adrienne Rich, who passed away earlier this year after an amazingly powerful career. Adrienne Rich, Later Poems: Selected and New, 1971-2012 (WW Norton, 2012). John Ashbery, Quick Question: New Poems (Ecco, 2012).
The writer Eavan Boland is not only a first-rate poet but she is continually interesting on the subject of writing, literary history and social roles. Her latest book explores the sense of doubleness that she navigates in her career: A Journey with Two Maps: Becoming a Woman Poet.
Two prize-winning books by two of America’s best poets are also of note: Jorie Graham’s Place (Ecco, 2012) and Tracy K. Smith’s Life on Mars (Greywolf, 2011), which won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2012.
Also, a pitch for a book that was published a couple of years ago that I don’t think got as much attention as it should have, from Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors, A New Literary History of America (Harvard University Press, 2009), which came out in paperback in 2012. It provides a really valuable, entertaining and incisive view of 500 years of American writing.”
For the Scientists:
John Grant, from the National Air and Space Museum, recommends:
Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity and the Exploration of the Red Planet by Steve Squyres is good for adults. Squyres writes about his work as the principal investigator on both the Spirit and Opportunity missions to Mars in 2004. A good read for people following the more recent Mars developments with the Curiosity mission.
And for the younger set: Fly Me to Mars by Catherine Weitz is a terrific kids book.
For the History Buffs:
Cory Bernat, co-curator of FOOD: Transforming the American Table at American History, recommends:
Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America by Harvey Levestein, which covers America’s eating habits from the 1930s to present day.
John Edward Hasse, at the American History Museum, likes:
Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood and How It Changed America, by John M. Barry, because it’s a “fascinating story told so compellingly that it reads almost like a novel.”
Nancy Bercaw, of the American History Museum, suggests:
Tiya Miles’ Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom, first published in 2006, but an interesting read for readers looking for something different in the Civil War sesquicentennial.
July 9, 2010
Just a few weeks after the White House released its new National Space Policy, stating its intent for NASA to send humans to orbit Mars by the mid-2030s (among other things), the National Air and Space Museum hosts its annual Mars Day. The event, now in its 15th year, will be held next Friday, July 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Mars Day promises a museum abuzz with activities for visitors young and old—from story times to presentations on the latest Mars research. In fact, it is the only day of the year when all of the museum’s planetary scientists, many of whom provide the scientific support for NASA’s Mars missions, are on the museum floor interacting with visitors. Even the director of NASA’s planetary science division Jim Green will be in attendance to inform the public about ongoing and upcoming missions to Mars. And if that isn’t enticing enough…
ATM’s Five Reasons Why You Need to be at Mars Day:
1. To take an artistic tour through space. Artist Michael Benson’s “Beyond: Visions of Planetary Landscapes,” an exhibition of 148 restored and reprocessed photographs of space taken from unmanned interplanetary probes, has been on view since May 26. You’ve been meaning to head over to check it out, and now is your chance. Added bonus for visiting the exhibit on Mars Day: Planetary geologist Jim Zimbelman will be using the photographs as a jumping off point for discussing the major geologic features of the red planet, at 10 a.m. and again at 2 p.m.
2. To see a real meteorite that came from Mars. The National Museum of Natural History is loaning the National Air and Space Museum Mars meteorites—and a few scientists who are particularly knowledgeable about them—just for the day. The scientists will be stationed at the Milestones of Flight exhibit.
3. To imagine a Mars Rover exploring the planet’s surface. The museum’s full-scale model of a Mars Exploration Rover (MER) has just recently been reinstalled in the Exploring the Planets exhibit. (Maybe you missed it your last visit?) MER Science Team Member John Grant will be on hand to paint a clearer picture of the rovers’ current operations on Mars.
4. To test your own rover maneuvering skills. The museum won’t let you lose on a life-size rover, but there will be mini-robot explorers on hand in the Independence Lobby. In past years, curators have laid down mazes of tape on the lobby’s carpet floor through which visitors can navigate the mini rovers and practice collecting samples with the gadgets’ robotic arms.
5. To see Mars through rose-colored, 3D glasses. Also on display solely for Mars Day are the museum’s 3D Mars landscape images. This always-popular station will be in Space Hall. Additional up-to-the-minute images of the planet, captured on current missions looking for landing sites on Mars, can be found in the Mars corner of the Exploring the Planets gallery.
For the full schedule of events, click here.