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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Seasonal color, jazz concerts, craft traditions, and a fascinating conversation centered on a new HBO special are all part of this week's fall basket of items. (And you may want to add a Smithsonian Associates membership to your digital shopping basket to take advantage of some of them.)

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.

Fall on the Mall

Museums and landmarks usually come to mind when you think about the National Mall. But this magnet for both visitors and locals in the heart of Washington has an often-overlooked component: a collection of Smithsonian gardens that provide beauty, color, and texture to this iconic public space. They range from the grand Victorian exuberance of the Castle's Enid A. Haupt Garden to the tranquil Courtyard Garden of the Freer Galley of Art to the native landscape surrounding the National Museum of the American Indian. Though there are fewer visitors this fall, the seasonal hues and views on the Mall are as stunning as ever. Take a look at a gallery of recent photos that capture them at their best. And you can brighten up your Zoom landscape with some digital backgrounds from Smithsonian Gardens.

Browse Smithsonian Gardens Digital Backgrounds

All That Jazz

Members-Only Program

One of the many pleasures of zooming in to a Smithsonian Associates Streaming program is the musical introduction-Duke Ellington's "Take the A Train"-performed by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, the resident ensemble at the National Museum of American History. SJMO is offering an end-of-the-year gift to Smithsonian Associates members: exclusive access to two terrific concert videos. The November program salutes some of the legendary artists recognized over the years as winners in DownBeat magazine's venerable Jazz Hall of Fame polls and includes music by bassist Ray Brown, pianist Oscar Peterson, drummer Shelley Manne, and Duke Ellington. In December, view a SJMO concert that resonates with the themes of spirituality and religion that are at the root of the genre. The program includes music from Duke Ellington's Third Sacred Concert, Mary Lou Williams' Black Christ of the Andes, John Coltrane's "Resolution", and seasonal selections. Smithsonian Associates members should watch their inboxes for an informational email about accessing the concerts next week.

Preventing Pandemics

The means to ward off the possibility of future human pandemics is in our hands-or more specifically, nature's. A recent report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services concludes that addressing human activities like habitat destruction, deforestation, and wildlife trade is essential to reducing factors that promote disease emergence. Peter Daszak, president of the Ecohealth Alliance, states "There is no great mystery about the cause of the Covid-19 pandemic-or any modern pandemic. The same human activities that drive climate change and biodiversity loss also drive pandemic risk though their impacts on our agriculture." Smithsonian magazine breaks down the report's essentials.

Amid our own global pandemic, certain wildlife are also facing an unprecedented conservation crisis. Hear scientists Rebecca Gooley and Luke Linhoff of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute discuss their work in taking in members of two animal populations devastated by pandemics-the Tasmanian devil and amphibians-into captivity in order to protect, study, breed, and reintroduce them into the wild. The Smithsonian Associates Streaming program takes place Thursday, December 3.

Read the Smithsonian Magazine Article

Register for the Program

Between the World and Me

Members-Only Program

Smithsonian Associates members are invited to go behind the scenes of an upcoming HBO production. On Saturday, November 21, the network premieres a special event based on Ta-Nehisi Coates' award-winning Between the World and Me. The powerful 2015 bestseller was written as a letter to Coates' teenage son, and recounts the author's experiences growing up in Baltimore's inner city, his growing fear of daily violence against the Black community, and how that fear has affected his life and his perception of race in America. Based on a 2018 adaptation of the work staged at the Apollo Theater, the HBO special combines elements of the Apollo's production, including readings from the book, and incorporates spirited music, documentary footage from the actors' home life, archival footage, and animation. It features an ensemble cast that includes Coates, Angela Bassett, Phylicia Rashad, Angela Davis, Courtney B. Vance, Joe Morton, Janet Mock, and Oprah Winfrey. On Monday, November 23, members can stream a panel discussion featuring four executive producers of the HBO special including Ta-Nehisi Coates; the production's director Kamilah Forbes; Susan Kelechi Watson; and Roger Ross Williams. The event is presented in collaboration with the National Museum of African American History and Culture and HBO.

Register for the Program

View the Teaser

Crafting History

The craft traditions practiced and passed on by women around the world find their reflection in more than beautiful objects: They carry the spirit of cultural and social history. In a free online program on Friday, November 20, explore the past, present, and future with fiber artist Bisa Butler as she discusses how her family, her education, and social influences inspired her to blend the line between art and craft. Butler is known for creating monumental quilted portraits of Black life and cultural identity that share multilayered historical meanings and stories. The virtual event is part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's annual Clarice Smith Distinguished Lectures in American Art series.

For generations, Palestinian women have gathered with their daughters to work collectively on embroidery projects, bonding with one another over a cup of tea. Sample the tradition in a two-part Smithsonian Associates Streaming studio arts workshop on December 8 and 15. Guided by Wafa Ghnaim, who began her training in embroidery with her mother at age 2, learn the basic Palestinian cross-stitch and versions of the Pasha's Tent pattern, one that has dozens of iterations seen in the traditional Palestinian women's dress.

Clarice Smith Virtual Lecture Series: Bisa Butler

Palestinian Embroidery 101: Create a Tatreez Sampler