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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Several topics in this week's edition spotlight ways in which contemporary creators-in visual arts, poetry, music, and film and television-use their work to reflect and interpret the world in which we're spinning right now.

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.

A Poet's Next Destination: DC

Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch III recently announced that Kevin Lowell Young, director of New York City's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, will become the second director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in January 2021. Bunch says that as a poet, author, essayist and editor "Kevin will bring an exciting mix of scholarship, technological savvy, and bold vision that builds on the foundational work of the many people who built the museum. As a poet, he understands how the museum fulfilled the dreams of many Americans, and under his leadership the museum will shape the hopes of future generations." Young, who became the poetry editor of the New Yorker in 2017, told "PBS NewsHour" that "I think that poetry should be part of popular culture in the sense that poetry should be something we reach to." Take a look at the segment, in which Young reads excerpts from his work and talks about how his poetry connects public and personal history-and why it has room for references to Queen Latifah, RC Cola, Prince, and Atari.

Watch the PBS NewsHour Segment

Back on the Trail

You can't beat a Smithsonian museum walk on the National Mall on a beautiful fall day-but can you arrive by kayak? There's only one facility that welcomes paddle-up visitors: the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland. Its 2,650-acre campus on Chesapeake Bay spans forests, wetlands, marshes, and 15 miles of protected shoreline and serves as a natural laboratory for ecological research. SERC's three main hiking trails-the Java History Trail, the Discovery Trail, and the Contee Watershed Trail-have undergone improvements over the past months and are ready to welcome back visitors. There are also aquatic trails designed to be followed in a kayak or canoe. Grab your boots, a snack-and maybe an oar-and set out to discover autumn in a stunning setting just 25 miles from the capital.

Discover SERC's Hiking Trails

Forces of Nature

The recently reopened Renwick Gallery throws a Smithsonian spotlight on craft creators in Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020, which features artists Lauren Fensterstock, Timothy Horn, Debora Moore, and Rowland Ricketts. Nature provides a way for these invited artists to ask what it means to be human in a world increasingly chaotic and divorced from our physical landscape. Representing craft media from fiber to mosaic to glass and metals, the artists approach the long history of art's engagement with the natural world through unconventional and highly personal perspectives. The exhibition is on view at the Renwick through June 27, 2021, but you can also step into online galleries for a look at works by each artist.

View the Galleries

The List: Race in Focus

Recently, there's been a heightened awareness of Black-centered television shows and movies, as well as the issue of racial representation both behind the camera and onscreen. In a Smithsonian Associates Streaming program on Thursday, November 12, NPR television critic and author Eric Deggans sheds light on some of the most important shows and films to watch right now. From HBO's "The Wire" and "Watchmen" to Netflix's "When They See Us" to Do the Right Thing and In the Heat of the Night, Deggans discusses how to evaluate such material for its treatment of themes involving race and culture.

Register for the Program

Bright Clouds of Music

On October 17, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art presented a virtual concert that featured music from classical pianist Yael Weiss's project 32 Bright Clouds: Beethoven Conversations Around the World. The Israeli-American musician invited 32 composers from countries experiencing conflict or unrest to mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth by creating a piece of music inspired by his 32 piano sonatas. She also asked them to incorporate a shared musical phrase: a "peace" motif from Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, which caries the composer's inscription "A call for inward and outward peace." Weiss told an NPR interviewer that newspaper headlines made her feel "that I was surrounded by an atmosphere of fear and anger and words and attitudes that create divisiveness. " She explained "the 32 Bright Clouds project is using the power of music to express our unity, our shared humanity, and the global aspiration for peace.c The complete concert-which includes Beethoven works and new ones by composers from Afghanistan, Syria, the Philippines, and Jordan-is available online.

View the Concert

Listen to the Interview