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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Though this year's Fourth of July picnic might take place on your own lawn, porch, or balcony, you can still enjoy a summer that's filled with plenty of enjoyable and intriguing activities. As the weekend approaches, this edition serves up some ways to do that, including one for the teens in your life.

They're 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.

Folklife Beyond the Mall

In the Washington area, the approach of Independence Day means it's time to head to the National Mall for summer's liveliest celebration of world cultures—the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The spirit of that tradition takes on a new form this year in a collection of online events themed Beyond the Mall that explore the role of culture in addressing today's global challenges. Through July 5, daily conversations, performances, and food demonstrations feature artisans and experts from the United Arab Emirates, Northeast Brazil, and the Smithsonian Conservation Commons joining in from their homes around the world. The mix ranges from cross-cultural looks at barbeque and coffee to a digital dance party with Latina DJs in Oakland and D.C. to a gathering of musicians who span six decades of activism.

View the Festival Schedule

A Greener Thumb

Could you use some expert advice to make your summer garden thrive? Horticulturalists from Smithsonian Gardens dig into a wide range of basic topics in the weekly Let's Talk Gardens! lunchtime webinar series. July's Thursday noon sessions cover simple summer herbs, creating a Monarch butterfly waystation, flowering containers, selecting garden foliage, and composting. If you'd like a regular delivery of fresh inspiration for your gardening, you'll find it in the lush and beautiful Instagram photos @smithsoniangardens.

View Upcoming Garden Talks

Smithsonian Summer Adventures

Here's the best way to get a teen out of bed on a summer morning: Smithsonian Masterclasses. These weeklong focused studio courses offer a chance to develop specialized skills, socialize and interact with other teens, and learn from professional practitioners. In two-hour live online workshops they learn, experiment, and collaborate as they develop personal projects inspired by Smithsonian collections. The creative choices include classes in drawing (July 6–10), painting (July 13–17), cellphone photography (July 20–24), digital photography (July 27–31), and a soldiers and dioramas workshop inspired by a battle in the American Revolution (August 19–20).

Register for a Masterclass


The most timeless paintings tell stories that extend far beyond the canvas: They encompass entire worlds. In a new Smithsonian Associates Streaming series, examine three masterworks that capture specific moments in history—and their artists' careers—with eloquence and power. Find out what prompted the central figure in John Singleton Copley's monumental Watson and the Shark to commission this record of a terrifying incident in his seafaring youth. Learn how The Gross Clinic by Thomas Eakins reflects a period in which both medical and artistic training became truly American and why Picasso's Guernica mirrors a confluence of rapid changes that both shaped and scarred the first decades of the 20th century.

Learn More About the Program

Poetic License

Whether you turn to it for escape, comfort, or inspiration, a poem can transform your day. The website of the Poetry Foundation is a smartly curated trove of written and spoken resources designed to appeal to (or create) fans of the form at any age. In addition to individual works, a wide array of collections explore themes including poems of protest, resistance, and empowerment; the delights of summer; poetry and the environment; and even baseball poems. The Poet and the Poem audio podcasts from the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress offer a way to more deeply explore that world through the voices of its writers. Hosted by local poet Grace Cavalieri, the podcast and its extensive archive of interviews with leading poets provide an ideal reason to grab your headphones and an iced tea and retreat to a comfortable spot on a summer afternoon.

Browse the Poetry Foundation

Listen to The Poet and the Poem Podcast