Though it's not quite a drone delivery, this week's edition brings a package that includes tributes to a civil rights icon, a chance to look into the faces of ancient emperors, a deep dive into some of the canvases that heralded the beginning of modern art, and a great way to fill this fall's after-school hours.
They're among the 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.
John Lewis and the Power of Hope
The late John Lewis learned from an early age that nonviolence was not only a tactic but a philosophy, a biblical imperative, and a transforming reality. Integral to Lewis's commitment to bettering the nation was his faith in humanity and in God-and an unshakable belief in the power of hope. A special Smithsonian Associates Streaming program on Tuesday, October 1 celebrates the civil rights icon and longtime U.S. congressman. Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III, who worked closely with Lewis to create the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), joins biographer Jon Meacham to discuss Lewis's life and career and his legacy that offers inspiration and illumination for Americans today who are working for social and political change. A copy of Meacham's new book His Truth Goes Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope is included in the ticket price.
On Friday, September 18, NMAAHC salutes John Lewis's longstanding dedication to the museum in a free online program moderated by NPR host Michel Martin. Secretary Bunch and Pulitzer Prizeâ€“winning historian Taylor Branch are among the friends and colleagues who will discuss his storied life and accomplishments.
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The Emperor's New Face
Think about artistic depictions of Roman emperors and what first comes to mind might be an empty-eyed white marble bust, likely with a chipped nose. Canadian designer Daniel Voshart has humanized all 54 of them in his Roman Emperor Project. Using the neural-net tool Artbreeder, Photoshop, and historical references, Volshart created photorealistic portraits that speculate on what they might actually have looked like. They let you go eye-to-eye with marquee names in the imperial roster like Augustus, Claudius, Nero, and Caligula, as well as some lesser-celebrated ones such as Hostilian and Maximinus Thrax-both of whom have perfect Marvel Universe supervillian names. Smithsonian magazine reports on how Voshart created his gallery of noble (and infamous) Romans.
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The Barnes Collection: Another Closer Look
Though the galleries of Philadelphia's Barnes Foundation have reopened, participants in a recent Smithsonian Associates Streaming program got at look at works in the museum's unparalleled post-impressionist and early-modern collections in a way that not even in-person visitors can experience. During the live virtual tour, Barnes educator Penny Hansen used high-definition Deep Zoom technology to offer extraordinary closeup looks at canvases that reveal their surfaces and details in ways that bring the art and the artists to vivid life-and captivated viewers. But here's some good news: Hansen reprises the tour on Thursday, September 24. It's an ideal foundation for an upcoming series of monthly programs in which she individually explores several artists represented in the Barnes collection-Matisse, Cezanne, Renoir, Modigliani, and Soutine-in depth.
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A Drone's Museum Landing
Drones are playing increasingly wider roles in modern life, and one of the Smithsonian's most recent acquisitions reflects their place in aviation history. The National Air and Space Museum has accepted the Wing aircraft used for the first commercial drone delivery to a U.S. home into the national collection. Drone No. A1229 completed its two-mile trip Oct. 18, 2019, delivering a winter vest to the home of Christiansburg, Virginia, residents. The aircraft will eventually be displayed in the museum's Allan and Shelley Holt Innovations Gallery.
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By now, the students in your house are likely back in the classroom (or in front of the monitor) again. But how do you keep them engaged and entertained-and also learning-when class in not in session? Smithsonian Virtual After-school Adventures can be your solution. These live, interactive programs offer a wide range of educational experiences designed for students from kindergarten to grade 1 through grades 6 to 11. And all of them allow young people to virtually explore the wonders of the Smithsonian's collections and connect with experts in many fields. (Know any pre-teens who'd love to study digital cartooning with current Super Art Fight champion Margaret Huey?) The multi-week sessions cover topics including history, the arts, the natural world, and even creating 3D virtual worlds, and registration for them is now open.