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Smithsonian Associates Digital Digest

September's edition-our 90th-offers ways to freshen your fall in an array of programs that take you from sunrise hikes to Broadway nights, the wildest of British estates to the wildly imaginative world of the Smithsonian's Discovery Theater.

And as we've said in the previous 89, this lively monthly collection is designed to make sure you continue to enjoy what you've come to value from Smithsonian Associates: programs and experiences that are entertaining, informative, eclectic, and insightful.

A New Voice from the Smithsonian

In July, Smithsonian magazine launched the podcast There's More to That, designed to connect listeners with the magazine's journalists as they discover the forces behind some of the biggest issues of our time and offer a fresh understanding of the world we all inhabit. Hosted by the magazine's Chris Klimek, new episodes are released free and on-demand every other Thursday on the magazine's website and across all major podcast platforms.

Episodes available now delve into the backstories of two blockbuster movies, Oppenheimer and Barbie. Physicist-turned-photographer Minesh Bacrania shares his experience photographing inside the top-secret labs at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where J. Robert Oppenheimer and other scientists created the first nuclear weapon. Smithsonian magazine writer Andy Kifer discusses the complexities of Oppenheimer's genius and how prior attempts to depict him in film, television, and on stage have fared. In addition, journalist and lifelong Barbie fan Emily Tamkin traces the decades-long development, or lack thereof, of Ken, Barbie's perennial plus-one.

Podcasts topics also include the history of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, the only unit comprised entirely of Black women to have been deployed overseas during World War II; the science of deep-sea exploration; and the dangerous consequences of a prolonged drought in the Colorado River, a topic explored in a recent two-part Smithsonian Associates program. So grab your ear buds and welcome a new (and very erudite) audio companion on your fall walks.

Take a Listen

Creating a Wilder World

The enormity of climate change and biodiversity loss can leave us feeling overwhelmed. How can an individual ever make a difference? British journalist and author Isabella Tree and her husband, conservationist Charlie Burrell, know firsthand how spectacularly nature can bounce back if you give it the chance.

In 1983, Burrell inherited the 200-year-old Knepp Castle in West Sussex, along with the title of baronet. Seventeen years of conventional efforts to turn its 3,500 acres into a profitable modern farm had left the land-and the couple's financial resources-severely depleted. In 2000, Tree and Burrell turned to an emerging idea in land management: rewilding, which allows the land to return to its natural state. A recent segment on "CBS Sunday Morning" provides an overview of their verdant success.

A landed estate, though, isn't a prerequisite for rewilding. Everyone-regardless of the size of their space-can help restore nature, say Tree and Burrell, who have chronicled their experiences in The Book of Wilding: A Practical Guide to Rewilding, Big and Small. Join them on Sunday, October 1 in a Smithsonian Associates online program in which they discuss rewilding everything from rivers to public spaces and community gardens to urban parks, backyards, and window boxes.

Register for the Program

Back to Nature

Located just 15 miles outside Washington, the Great Falls of the Potomac is the most magnificent natural landmark in the metropolitan area. Rise early on a fall morning, avoid the crowds, and enjoy a small-group experience in the great outdoors with naturalist Keith Tomlinson. The sunrise excursions at Great Falls National Park include a hike past Great Falls and into Mather Gorge, two of the area's most remarkable geologic features. Explore the natural history of the area's forest, observe a variety of birds, and learn about the effect of local land-use patterns on conservation efforts along the Potomac. The 6:30 a.m. hikes are scheduled for September 23, 24, and 29.

Nature fans who like to sleep a bit longer can join author and naturalist Melanie Choukas-Bradley for an autumn nature hike in the scenic Potomac Gorge at Carderock, Maryland. Hike on the Billy Goat Trail, section C, starting at the Carderock climbing area. The trail offers dramatic river vistas and passes through a mature forest of oaks, hickories, maples, beeches, black walnuts, and sycamores. Stop along the route to admire trees with their autumn foliage and fruit, notice birds and other wildlife, and see wildflowers. Midway in the walk, enjoy a few moments of forest bathing, quietly appreciating the splendor of the surroundings. The 9 a.m. hikes take place on October 24, 25, and 26.

Hikes at Great Falls

Hikes at Carderrock

Discovery Theater: Curtain Up!

Looking for a way to spend family time that blends entertainment and education? You'll find it at Discovery Theater, the Smithsonian's theater for young audiences. The 2023-24 season of the Washington area's only immersive museum theater is ready to welcome Pre-K through 6th-grade students and their adults.

From October through May, nine professional shows spotlight everything from earth science to electromagnetism, the art of taiko drumming to groundbreaking African American entrepreneurs and inventors. Along the way there's lively storytelling, dance, plenty of music­, and even an eco-fable enacted by puppets. And there's no better winter family outing on the National Mall than taking in a performance of the joyful Seasons of Light, which brings to life holiday festivals from around the world, topped off by a visit to a Smithsonian museum.

Explore the Season's Shows

Another Opening, Another Show

We haven't overlooked grown-up theater fans-and theater makers-in the Smithsonian Associates spotlight. Step up and view our fall billboard, featuring programs with stellar casts, applause-worthy storylines, and plenty of backstage glimpses.

Washington is known for its vibrant arts and culture scene, and theater is set to be especially exciting in the 2023-2024 season. As part of the annual Theatre Week celebration, join Amy Austin, president and CEO of Theatre Washington, and a panel of experts as they explore why D.C. is considered one of the best theater towns in the country. The robust conversation offers insights on women in DC-area theater, new work, underrepresented communities, and the highlights that are in store on local stages large and small. The in-person Smithsonian Associates event takes place Monday, October 2 at the Ripley Center.

The Broadway of today has a rich and complex history that reaches back to the 1700s, with roots that encompass minstrelsy, vaudeville, nightclubs, and burlesque. On Monday, October 16, musical theater artist and historian Ben West chronicles Broadway's evolution in a livestreamed program, highlighting pivotal artists and shows and examining how its stages have always reflected the social, cultural, and political sensibilities of the country.

Ever wondered who's behind the productions you've enjoyed in Washington-area theaters? Follow local guide Lynn O'Connell on a unique exploration of the booming local theater scene as you spend a day with leaders at five notable companies on Saturday, November 4. There are lots of scene changes along the way as you learn about the companies' creative profiles and upcoming seasons, step onto a set, sit in on a rehearsal, and discover how directors shape the productions mounted on local stages.

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