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What exactly does a bear do in the woods?

Lots of things, including playing, resting and coming in for its close-up―its really close-up.

And how do we know? Smithsonian scientists are studying the behavior of black bears, sun bears, giant pandas and dozens of other species through photos from motion-sensor camera traps around the world.

Look at the Birdie! Or the Panda, Elephant or Lion ›

Who shined a light on justice from the shadows?

Bayard Rustin, Chief Organizer of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, was often called Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s shadow.

Rustin, a pacifist, instructed King in Gandhi’s non-violent protest techniques. A former member of the Communist Party and openly homosexual, Rustin helped the civil rights movement by recognizing the power behind King’s leadership. In August 2013, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The time is NOW ›

What masterpiece not only fills a room—it is the room?

The Peacock Room at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art.

Painter James McNeill Whistler was only given permission to make minor alterations to a client’s dining room, but he went much further. He covered the ceiling with gold leaf and painted it and the wainscoting, cornices, shelving, shutters and walls in a lush pattern of peacock feathers—and peacocks.

An Artist as Proud as a Peacock ›

What is part man, part fish and all latex?

Paul Thek’s Fishman.

The sculpture has changed a lot since its creation in 1968: The original color of the latex has darkened and lost its elasticity, and parts of the sculpture have broken or crumbled away. In 2010, Fishman underwent a major treatment, which required conservators at Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum to develop new techniques since established conservation materials and methods weren’t compatible with the material.

Saving A Sculpture, One Fish at a Time ›

How is hip-hop like the microchip?

Both grew out of communities that were innovation hotbeds—the microchip from Silicon Valley and hip-hop from the Bronx.

By building primitive song mixers, constructing speakers out of trash cans and hacking power from street lights, early MCs in the 1970s’ Bronx demonstrated problem solving, risk taking and creativity, inventing a new style of American music. The Smithsonian studies how inventive communities form and impact culture.

Innovation Hotspots ›

Launched Dec. 7, 1972, Apollo 17 was the last space mission to land astronauts on the moon.

Last man on the moon ›

Artist Frida Kahlo on the patio of the Blue House, 1950s. Florence Arquin, photographer

Chilling on the patio ›


Want more of a say in what happens at the Smithsonian?

We are looking for a few good Smithsonian fans to join our Smithsonian Fan Forum (SFF), an online group of our friends and visitors who will give us feedback on an array of Smithsonian initiatives. If you would like to provide occasional feedback to the Smithsonian and help us plan for the future, please click below to sign up.

Join the Smithsonian Fan Forum ›

Space chow, such as this appetizing meal, provided Apollo 10 astronauts with 2,800 calories a day.

We'd rather have pizza ›

This powdered tea was a menu selection on the first Space Shuttle Columbia mission in April 1981.

How about a nice cuppa? ›


Can animals take a selfie?

Yes! When an animal trips a "camera trap" as a part of a science project. Learn more at the video!

This 1895 British zoo guidebook is one of thousands in the Smithsonian Institution Libraries.

Ballroom dancing at the zoo? ›

Babe Ruth and the 1915 Boston Red Sox pitching staff, courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.

Boston Bambino ›


What poetry disappears before our eyes?

In Chinese public parks, artists use sponges and water to write poetry that disappears quickly, a popular art form called water calligraphy.

Don't miss the 2014 Folklife Festival ›

Inuit mothers kept their babies warm in Arctic weather by carrying them in the pouch of their parka.

A mother's warmth ›

70% of the world's people live in the coastal zone. Join the fight for this guy.

What can you do to help save the coast? ›


Where can you find an extinct flock?

Jonathan Kavalier, supervisory horticulturist for Smithsonian Gardens, answers:

via amhistorymuseum

amhistorymuseum amhistorymuseum

Today in 1856: L. Frank Baum, author of "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" series, is born. Dorothy's ruby slippers: http://t.co/d53AB2OWyP

11 days ago

Lady slipper orchids are just some of the varieties in the exhibition “Orchids of Latin America.”

If the slipper fits, pollinate it. ›


How is hip-hop like the microchip?

Can a particular place help inspire people to be more creative and try new things?


What business lets you work, sleep and pray in the same place?

Masum Momaya, curator at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, answers.

via smithsonian

smithsonian smithsonian

Cornelia Maria Clapp earned the 1st & 2nd biology doctorates awarded to women in the U.S. #Groundbreaker http://t.co/NbJpefcIS7

11 days ago

This is the smallest shark, a dwarf lantern shark – smaller than a person's hand!

Petite predator ›

This folk art guitar has a two chambers for stashing strings, picks or snacks

A primitive guitar ›


Why do many Indian Americans take off their shoes before entering the house?

Masum Momaya, curator at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, answers!

via smithsonian

smithsonian smithsonian

Hang in there. It's Friday. (Chinese pangolin at @smithsoniannmnh) #tw http://t.co/f13oE5CJU4

11 days ago


Can losing weight help you see better?

If you're an x-ray mirror, then being thin can help you see better...in space!

Smithsonian scientists used a CT-scanner to non-invasively examine this Peruvian mummy.

Mummies from the inside out ›

This is the fossilized dung of a Giant Sloth, estimated to be 100,000 years old.

And you thought fossils were just cool bones ›


Can history make you swing?

Yes, especially if it involves Duke Ellington! Watch our archives come to life.


Can a bloom kill?

Nick Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the National Museum of Natural History.

Perhaps his most famous muse, Andy Warhol printed Marilyn Monroe's lips onto canvas in 1962.

Pucker up! ›


¿Dónde se pueden encontrar ballenas sobre una autopista?

Jorge Velez-Juarbe, Colaborador de investigación en el Smithsonian.

Born into slavery, Nat Love became a legend of the American West as “Deadwood Dick.”

In my fighting clothes ›

Two fishing cat kittens born in May are the first of this species to reproduce at the National Zoo.

No fraidy-cats when it comes to water ›

Henri Matisse exaggerated the female figure in this terracotta sculpture.

Strike a pose ›


What mammal leads its life like a bee?

Naked mole-rats live their lives entirely underground in Africa, digging tunnels in a never-ending search for plant tubers to eat. These bizarre creatures are unlike nearly every other mammal on earth in that the burdens of reproduction and milk feeding of young are placed solely on a single queen and are not shared among the females of the colony.

Milk production in the nude ›

Native American Julia Keefe is an accomplished singer of a uniquely American art form: jazz.

"Up Where We Belong" ›

Cute or creepy? The vampire squid got its name from its black skin and red eyes.

Get the whole story ›


How can an exhibition make you sing?

S. Xavier Carnegie, Theatre Programs' creative director at the National Museum of American History.

Doug Aitken’s ‘Song 1’ creates liquid architecture, mixing concrete, music and video.

I only have eyes for you ›


How can history talk back?

S. Xavier Carnegie, Theatre Programs' creative director at the National Museum of American History.

Go behind the scenes of the Seriously Amazing ad photo shoot.

Check it out ›


How is the narwhal's tusk like a human tooth?

The narwhal tusk is the opposite of a human tooth, rigid in the center and surrounded by a flexible outer layer containing porous tubules. Scientists have long realized the signals a narwhal receives from the nerves in its spiral tusk—which is actually a wildly elongated tooth—provide critical information about its icy ocean environment.

Dentist to the rescue ›


How do you digitize a 400lb lowland gorilla?

The largest fully preserved great ape collection is about to make its online debut.

Once thought to have gone extinct 65 million years ago, a living Coelacanth was caught in 1938.

A living fossil ›


What can you do with a Buddha’s Hand?

Eat it! A Buddha’s Hand Citron is a fruit that looks like a lumpy lemon and smells like, you guessed it, citrus! The fruit is used in China, India and the United States as a base for cocktails, candied as sweets or even as a scent for laundry detergent.

A delicious hand ›


What percentage of taxi cab drivers are Indian American in NYC?

Indian Americans make up 30% of cab drivers in New York City. Be sure to visit "Beyond Bollywood" online or at the National Museum of National History to see more!

Shaping the nation ›

“Moe” Asch was the founder of Folkways Records and produced more than 2,100 classic recordings.

Discover more about this music pioneer: ›

A study for Georgia O’Keefe’s “New York Interpreted: The Bridge”

Study up ›

Photographer Steven Cummings blurs the lines between fine art and commercial art.

Art or advertising or both? ›

Surfer Tom "Pōhaku” Stone makes a traditional Hawaiian surfboard for the museum's collection.

He's never board ›


Where does the term “Bollywood” come from?

It’s a mash-up of Bombay and Hollywood, referring to the Indian film industry. Be sure to visit "Beyond Bollywood" online or at the National Museum of National History.

Go beyond ›


How can art catch a cold?

Watch the answer from Caitlin, conservation intern at the Hirshhorn Museum.

The corona in the design for the new African American Museum expresses faith, hope and resiliency.

A museum’s vision ›

A ceremonial Cambodian ting mong figure dancing to traditional music.

Giant good luck charms ›

This drawing was architect Rafael Viñoly’s concept sketch for the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.

Hope the blueprints are more detailed ›