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Now available is the Biography of a Phantom: A Robert Johnson Blues Odyssey by Robert "Mack" McCormick (above center with Spider Kilpatrick, c. 1960), and this summer, the much-anticipated book is complemented by an exhibit at the National Museum of American History, a box CD set from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and a concert celebration at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall.

Legendary Bluesman Robert Johnson Had Demons. So Did His Biographer

The long-awaited “Biography of a Phantom” unravels some of the mystery and intrigue

One-third of the world’s population can’t see the starry band of light in the night sky that makes up the Milky Way (above). The new show “Lights Out: Recovering Our Night Sky” at the National Museum of Natural History looks at the devastating impacts of artificial light.

Planet Positive

Why It’s Time for a Worldwide Lights-Out Program

A new Smithsonian exhibition delves into the issue of light pollution, with easy solutions offering an immediate change

The Smithsonian's podcast Sidedoor uncovers the climate change insights hidden in old paintings (above: Shivalal, Maharana Fateh Singh Crossing a River During the Monsoon (detail), c. 1893).

What Centuries-Old Indian Court Paintings Tell Us About Climate Change

This month’s Smithsonian podcasts include a deep dive into India’s monsoon weather patterns and discussion of animals in flight

A revolutionary new tool, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and NASA, will monitor the chemistry and changing dynamics of major pollutants (above: an Arizona power generating station).

This Eye in the Sky Promises Major Insights Into the Air We Breathe

The satellite mission TEMPO will detect pollutants at a neighborhood scale across the nation

Tens of thousands of people in the United States may be connected to this album, which museum officials say offers an "unprecedented opportunity for people of mixed heritage, especially, to access never-before-seen ancestral portraits."

Find Out If Your Ancestor Is Among These 19th-Century Silhouettes in This Newly Digitized Collection

The itinerant artist William Bache’s portraits are contaminated by arsenic, but now the National Portrait Gallery offers easy access

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Our Sustainable Future

Our Sustainable Future

The latest on how climate change affects life on Earth today and on what solutions scientists, including those at the Smithsonian, are innovating

Technician Yesmarie De La Flor prepares cultures of probiotics in the Smithsonian Marine Station’s microbiology laboratory in Fort Pierce, Florida. These probiotics were used for testing on diseased corals.

Probiotics May Help Corals Fight a Dangerous Disease Off Florida’s Coast

The new treatment shows promise in lab experiments

A circa 1825 sampler made by Ann E. Kelly at Leah Maguire's school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

A 19th-Century Textile Stitches a Tale of Women's Liberation

Beloved by her pupils, schoolteacher Leah Maguire embraced her freedom through sewing this sampler

Photographed before her death in 1987, Septima Clark helped win African Americans the right to teach in Charleston, South Carolina. 

The Power of Portraits

An exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery showcases the photography of Brian Lanker—and the remarkable lives of his subjects

A vintage promotional photograph commissioned and approved by Redfeather around 1915 is now held in the collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

The Stars Are Aligned at the National Museum of American History

The Forgotten History of Tsianina Redfeather, the Beloved American Indian Opera Singer

A portrait of the performer debuts in the exhibition “Entertainment Nation”

The octagonal building with its tongue-in-groove peaked roof is "really a beautiful piece of architecture,” says the museum's conservator Dawn Wallace. “You can tell it was heavily used, but it’s beautiful construction.”

Crowds Roared, a Century Ago, on Opening Day for the Mighty House That Ruth Built

An original Yankee Stadium ticket booth recalls the story of that first game, which featured a thundering three-run homer from the Great Bambino

Have any modern animals adapted to human activity through natural selection? 

 

Have Any Animals Evolved to Adapt to Human Activity?

You’ve got questions. We’ve got experts

The museum's curator Ryan Lintelman says the egg is emblematic of the cultural import of Weaver’s character Ellen Ripley, who battles the magnificently ugly "xenomorph."

The Stars Are Aligned at the National Museum of American History

Smithsonian Curator Reveals New Details on an Egg From Sigourney Weaver’s Iconic ‘Alien’ Franchise

Get the inside scoop on the iconic prop, now on view in the exhibition “Entertainment Nation”

“Spirit in the Dark: Religion in Black Music, Activism and Popular Culture,” (above: Nina Simone by G. Marshall Wilson, 1959) is on view at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture through November 2023.

Movements Capturing the Spiritual Roots of Black Culture

A new exhibition of rarely seen images and artifacts chronicles the African American religious experience

Movements, Motions, Moments offers a visual journey from the early 1870s to the present, depicting the story of how African Americans take action in sacred worship, ministry or ceremony according to their beliefs.

These Photographs of Spirituality in America Will Speak to Your Soul

A new volume from the National Museum of the African American History and Culture explores religion in the Black community

During World War II, Executive Order 9066 authorized the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans (above: In Los Angeles in April 1942, dozens of families wait for a train to Manzanar War Relocation Center in Owens Valley, California).

Japanese American Artists Recall the Trauma of Wartime Incarceration

Smithsonian podcasts explore the legacy of Executive Order 9066 and the camera that almost didn’t make it to the Juno spacecraft launch

"The Exhibit: Finding the Next Great Artist" premieres Friday, March 3 at 9 p.m. ET on MTV, and on the Smithsonian Channel Tuesday, March 7 at 9 p.m.

Behind the Scenes of the New Reality Series, ‘The Exhibit’

Seven artists compete for a $100,000 purse and an exhibition at the Hirshhorn in this ground-breaking show airing on the Smithsonian Channel

Thousands of migratory birds, including snow geese, sandhill cranes and ducks make Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico their fall and winter home.

The Wonderful World of Birds

The Wonderful World of Birds

As the Smithsonian's National Zoo prepares to open its reimagined and beloved Bird House, explore the fascinating science of our feathery friends above

A brown-green vessel bearing the inscription, "A noble Jar for pork or beef / then carry it a round to the indian chief" made by the enslaved craftsman David "Dave" Drake, is now on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

For the Enslaved Potter David Drake, His Literary Practice Was His Resistance

This 19th-century vessel, made to store meat, carries a powerful backstory of Drake's defiance of the laws of enslavement

Astronomers and musicians have developed “sonifications” to bring the symphony of the cosmos to a wider audience.

What Does the Universe Sound Like?

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and other researchers have melded astronomy and music to offer a new oeuvre