Mid-January could certainly use a dose of color and light-and offer something to look forward to. This month's digest is ready to deliver. Find some Valentine's Day inspiration in puppy love (literally) and several great reasons to get your luggage out of storage this year. Join the creator of "The Good Place" for some enlightening and entertaining tips on cultivating moral perfection and learn why a noted climate scientist holds hope that the planet's most significant challenge can be met.
They're all part of the monthly offerings 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 Smithsonian Focus
Spend a chilly winter afternoon museum-hopping with a mug of hot chocolate right at your side. The Searchable Museum, a new online initiative of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, offers a rich collection of resources including a digital version of the museum's permanent exhibition Slavery & Freedom 1400-1877, fascinating lesser-known stories from African American history, and explorations of current events and issues from an historical perspective.
You can also view images of the installation and objects from Design and Healing: Creative Responses to Epidemics, which opened in December at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Organized during the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, the exhibition examines design's role in times of crisis and features the work of communities and individuals who came together to aid each other, push for change, and create new spaces, objects, and services. It highlights hospitals designed by MASS Design Group as well as products, prototypes, and graphics by dozens of designers, entrepreneurs, and individuals.
Dig deeper by getting insights into lesser-known pandemics and epidemics in a Wednesday, March 30 Smithsonian Associates Streaming program with historian Allen Pietrobon, who reveals how people throughout history dealt with sudden disease outbreaks. He surveys topics including the cholera epidemics that ravaged 19th-century New York City and the terrifying polio epidemic that first struck America in the 1840s and killed thousands during each generational recurrence.
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Perfection Made Easy
In a world filled with complicated choices and bad advice, who wouldn't love having the correct answer to every moral question at their fingertips? Drawing on 2,500 years of deep thinking from around the world-and his new book How to Be Perfect-Michael Schur, creator of "The Good Place," is ready to come to the rescue. In a Wednesday, February 16 Smithsonian Associates Streaming program, he's joined in conversation by Todd May, the show's philosophical adviser, to grapple with the moral conundrums of modern life.
They take on easy ethical questions like "Should I punch my friend in the face for no reason?" (Answer: No) and work their way up to more complex issues such as "Can I still enjoy great art if it was created by terrible people?," "How much money should I give to charity?," and "Why bother being good at all when there are no consequences for being bad?" They offer plenty of entertaining and practical wisdom on tough issues we face every day and thought-provoking guidance on living an ethical life-and you'll be a few steps closer to perfection afterward.
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Friends, Family, Lovers
The birds and the bees have their fun, but this Valentine's Day celebrate all types of love found in the animal kingdom. Discover the romantic call of the wild in a unique SMITHSONIAN at 8 streaming event on Friday, February 11 presented by Smithsonian Associates and the National Museum of Natural History. Whether they're friends like cheetahs and golden retrievers, family like eusocial naked mole rats, or lovers like polyamorous woodpeckers, these animals will expand your ideas of what it is to love and be loved.
In a series of lightning talks, hear from Smithsonian experts including the National Zoo's Craig Saffoe, curator of big cats, and Kenton Kerns, assistant curator at the zoo's Small Mammal House, as well as Sahas Barve, an avian evolutionary ecologist at the National Museum of Natural History. Andrea Eller, a biological anthropologist, emcees the evening, during which you can also play virtual "parlor games" and print your own exclusive on-theme Valentine's Day cards.
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On the Road Again
Make 2022 the year in which you satisfy that longing for travel. Smithsonian Associates is again offering an enticing collection of study tours to some favorite destinations. Designed for people who want more than just a getaway, the expert-led tours offer one-of-a-kind experiences combined with opportunities to gain new insights into the topics that fascinate you whether you're a fan of history, art, music, cuisine, nature, or architecture-or simply love exploring new places.
Tours spotlighting the best of Brooklyn (April 10-11) and spring in the Brandywine River Valley (April 24-25) are now on sale. Over the coming months, they'll be joined by two tours focusing on the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright (May 1-2 and Sept. 9-12); hiking excursions in beautiful Shenandoah National Park (May 15-16); a ride into West Virginia history on the Cass Scenic Railroad; and a visit to two stunning American fashion exhibitions at the Met's Costume Institute (July 17-18).
Longer tours showcase the wild beauty of the Dakota Territory that shaped a young Theodore Roosevelt (September 17-21); immerse you in the places where the California Gold Rush boomed (Oct. 8-13); and offer a sample of Nashville's attractions from country music to great Southern cuisine to fine arts (Nov. 6-10). Subscribe to Smithsonian Associates Tours eAlert to keep up to date on local, regional, and national tour offerings.
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Holding Onto Hope
In her newest book, naturalist Jane Goodall and co-author Doug Abrams investigate the most sought-after and least-understood element of human nature: hope. In The Book of Hope Goodall identifies a quartet of reasons for optimism: human intellect, the resilience of nature, the power of young people, and the indomitable human spirit. In an interview with the Washington Post, she shared some specifics: "If we respect nature, if we respect animals, if we respect one another, things would be very different. I want a future where we've learned to live in harmony with the natural world, where we develop new ways of living, ways of growing food, ways of making money. ...We need to realize that we're part of this natural world and our lives depend on it."
Both Goodall and climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe emphasize that transforming our thinking about climate change-and boldly acting on it-is essential to the planet's future. In a Wednesday, March 2 Smithsonian Associates Streaming program, Hayhoe, author of Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing, joins Carla Easter, Broh-Kahn Weil director of education at the National Museum of Natural History, for a conversation on the issue. Their discussion addresses how Hayhoe's faith shaped her perspective on climate change and climate action; considers how climate change has become a polarizing political issue; and enumerates the most important goals we should set when it comes to climate change going forward.
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Not far from the Sistine Chapel, viewers are taking in artworks that Michelangelo and Pope Julius II could never have imagined: an exhibition of contemporary art housed in the Vatican Apostolic Library titled Everyone: Humanity on Its Way. The work of Roman artist Pietro Ruffo examines interwoven themes of migration and ecology inspired by the most recent papal encyclical and is designed to "support the culture of encounter" according to the library's head. Learn more about the exhibition, which also incorporates rare manuscripts and geographical drawings from the Vatican Library, on Artnet and view some of its highlights in a video from Rome Reports.
The Vatican Museums, 26 public art museums housing about 70,000 world-famous paintings and sculpture, are considered the world's first truly modern museums. In a Smithsonian Associates Streaming program on Friday, February 18 art historian Elizabeth Lev explores the origins of the world's first truly modern museum through the lives and times of three remarkable popes: Julius II, a visionary; Pius VI, a financier; and Pius XI, a savvy communicator. She traces how over the course of 500 years, they amassed an art collection that includes such iconic works as LaocoÃ¶n and His Sons; the Sistine Chapel, Caravaggio's Entombment of Christ, and Canova's Perseus Triumphant. (This survey of dazzling papal art is a perfect introduction to Smithsonian Associates' Certificate Program in World Art History if you've already not discovered it.)
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