Skip to main content
Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Intersections of past and present link several topics in this week's digest: the culinary legacy of Black cooks and creators that infuses modern cooking, a 1936 theatrical event and its multilingual echoes for today, and a beloved historian who could vividly conjure up the experience being in the thick of a Civil War battle.

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.

Craft the Future

For 38 years, the prestigious Smithsonian Craft Show has celebrated the best in American craft and design. This year's show, themed Craft the Future, is a virtual one, with more than 100 of the country's top craft and wearable artists offering recent works in a collection of online shops through October 25. On Wednesday, October 21, celebrity chef Carla Hall and Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III host a virtual gala and a live online auction featuring spectacular one-of-a-kind works from the nation's finest crafters. You can follow your passion for collecting and know you're supporting a good cause: The show is a signature event of the Smithsonian Women's Committee, which provides grants to projects and programs across the Smithsonian through monies raised.

Learn More About the Craft Show

Beyond Soul Food

The ingenuity and artistry of Black cooks and creators have made an indelible mark on American culture-a contribution usually erased from the story of American food. For chef, author, and television personality Marcus Samuelsson, his new book The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food is a way to reclaim Black culinary traditions and highlight the diversity and flavor of Black cooking today. Join him on Thursday, November 29 for a Smithsonian Associates Streaming program in which Samuelsson and Osayi Endolyn, James Beard Award-winning food writer, discuss how Black cooking has always been more than soul food, with flavors that can be traced to the African continent, the Caribbean, across the United States, and beyond. Jamila Robinson, food editor of the Philadelphia Inquire, moderates. Traditional recipes often serve as an inspiration for Samuelsson, such as his Black-Bottom Peanut Pie, a spin on the classic Southern black-bottom pies. Give it a try at home.

Register for the Program

Recipe for Black Bottom Peanut Pie

Voices From the 1930s

The WPA's Federal Theater Project made theatrical history on the evening of October 27, 1936 by staging 21 simultaneous productions of a dramatization of Sinclair Lewis's prescient anti-fascist novel It Can't Happen Here in towns and cities across the country-in languages including English, Spanish, and Yiddish. The topic was a timely one: Fascism was on the rise in Europe, and Lewis's cautionary political satire chronicled the rise of a demagogue who is elected president of the United States after fomenting fear and promising sweeping economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and "traditional" values.

Now, the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (whose 2018 Yiddish-language mounting of Fiddler on the Roof became an off-Broadway hit) is finding a new resonance in those voices from the 1930s. In cooperation with eight other New York City theatre groups, the company presents a live reading of It Can't Happen Here-in Yiddish, English, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, and Hebrew-on Wednesday afternoon, October 28, nearly 84 years to the day of the play's first production. The benefit reading involving 60 actors is designed to call attention to the dramatic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the theatre industry, and will be available for viewing until November 1.

Learn More About the Live Reading

Autumn Adventures in Learning

As fall days grow chillier, here's the perfect reason to stay indoors: Smithsonian Virtual Adventures. A slate of Fall Adventures delivers live interaction with experienced instructors, virtual museum visits, and object-based learning to help students discover the world around them in a fun and stimulating learning environment. Kindergarteners and first graders can explore the spookier side of the Smithsonian, discover how machines work, learn about Native American women artists, and find out what it takes to put on a show. History comes alive for students in grades 6 to 11 (and their adult family members) in Saturday soldiers and dioramas workshops where they find a new dimension-a miniature one-to military history. Learn about the full schedule of multi-week sessions and complete a brief survey to share your own suggestions for the kinds of educational adventures you'd like to see offered.

Take the Survey

Ed Bearss: A Final Salute

The late Ed Bearss was a man that people would follow anywhere. He could lead a group of strangers to a nondescript, featureless patch of ground off a badly paved two-lane road and within minutes populate it with the Union and Confederate soldiers who had battled on that landscape, conjuring up in his listeners' imaginations the visions and sounds of war and the clouds of gunpowder in the air. That was Ed Bearss' prodigious gift, one he shared with thousands of people over more than 25 years as a beloved Smithsonian Associates study tour leader. Bearss, former chief historian of the National Park Service and an authority on the Civil War, died at age 97 on September 15. Here are a few remembrances:

"Since I joined Smithsonian Associates in 2001, Ed led over 20 tours each year for us. I always looked forward to the days he would come to our offices for a planning meeting, and can still hear that distinctive loud voice streaming down the hall. In addition to our tour discussions, he always asked us about our dogs-and made us laugh about something. He was a one-of-a-kind figure who opened the door to history for so many."-Nichole Andonegui, tour program coordinator, Smithsonian Associates

"Whether he was heading up Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg or beside the banks of the Rappahannock, Ed Bearss strode indefatigably across a battlefield, brandishing his swagger stick with the bravado of a general leading a charge. Through his passion for history-and not a little showmanship-he transported us, for a vivid moment, directly into another era. Those are the moments in which we can literally see and feel our nation's military past in a personal and powerful way."-Fredie Adelman, director, Smithsonian Associates

"It is often said that Ed talked without notes. So true. He usually had a small attaché case with him, but I never saw him open it. I once asked him if he had references or other material in the case. He said, 'No. I've got a tuna fish sandwich in there in case I get hungry before lunch.'"-Bill Ulman, Smithsonian Associates study tour volunteer

Smithsonian Magazine Celebrates Ed