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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Appropriately for Women's History Month, this week's edition introduces women who boldly shaped their identities as Black entertainers and social activists in the 1960s, the glorious creations of generations of Amish quilters, and the often-overlooked women in STEM whose identities and achievements are at last becoming better known..

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.

Applause for Trailblazing Women

The "American Masters"/PBS documentary How It Feels To Be Free traces how six iconic African American women entertainers-Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson, and Pam Grier-broke thorough and challenged an entertainment industry hell-bent on keeping them out, transforming both themselves and their audiences in the process. The film examines the impact these trailblazing entertainers had on reshaping the narrative of Black female identity in Hollywood through their art and political activism while advocating for social change.

Smithsonian Associates members are invited to a free online Smithsonian History Film Forum program on Thursday, April 1 that brings together director Yoruba Richen, executive directors Lacey Schwartz Delgado and Mehret Mandefro, and Fath Davis Ruffins, curator of African American history and culture at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, in a live conversation and Q&A session that focuses on how the film was made and the story it tells. (Registrants receive a link to stream the film on their own.)

Learn More About The Film Screening

A Summer of Adventures

Spring is just making its appearance, but it's not too early to think about ways to keep the young people in your life active and engaged in the warmer months to come. Smithsonian Virtual Summer Adventures offers the answers in a series of weeklong programs that take kindergarteners through 11th graders on amazing journeys of learning through the world of the Smithsonian. From June 21 through August 27 they'll discover museum collections, take virtual field trips, and interact with other adventurers while playing games, creating crafts, meeting experts, and completing fun challenges. Whether they fly to the moon, dive deep into the ocean, create art, or plan for the future of the planet, it's sure to be a memorable summer. Online registration begins April 5-7.

Learn More About Virtual Summer Adventures

History, Block by Block

Sunshine and Shadow,1930, 89 x 86 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Faith and Stephen Brown. Image courtesy of Faith and Stephen Brown.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has received an extraordinary gift of masterpiece Amish quilts from the collection of Faith and Stephen Brown, whose passion for such creations was sparked by an exhibition at the Renwick Gallery more than 45 years ago. The quilts were made between the 1880s and 1940s and embody the astonishing design innovation and stitching skills of Amish women from communities in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and other states. An initial group of approximately 40 donated quilts will be featured in an exhibition organized by the museum and is scheduled to open in March 2024.

Sessions on quilting and other fabric arts are regularly on the calendar of Smithsonian Associates' Studio Arts program. A daytime course titled Confidence With Color in Quilting (Wednesday, April 14 to May 5) offers participants the chance to become familiar with the vocabulary of color and how to use printed fabric to create spectacular color combinations in their quilts. A Flash Quilt Stories workshop (Saturday, May 1) uses the 6-Word Memoir as the inspiration for learning to capture quick images of personal stories in quilted wall hangings.

Learn More About SAAM's Gift of Quilts

Jake Tapper Goes Hollywood

Jake Tapper (Photo: CNN)

CNN anchor Jake Tapper knows all about the workings of towns whose public facades mask ruthless power brokers, scandal, and sinister forces-and we're not just talking about D.C. He uses Hollywood in the 1960s as the backdrop for his newest novel, The Devil May Dance, a sequel to his political thriller The Hellfire Club that introduced Congressman Charlie Marder and his wife Margaret. This time, Attorney General Robert Kennedy taps the Marders to investigate a threat to American security that launches them into the dark side of the movie capital. Their assignment involves befriending Frank Sinatra, late-night adventures with the Rat Pack, a body in a car trunk, and the newly founded Church of Scientology-all elements of a screen-worthy plot described as "a thrilling cocktail of corruption and ambition."

Join Tapper in a just-announced Smithsonian Associates Streaming program on Wednesday, May 19 as he discusses his latest book, what inspired him to become a writer, and his work covering the non-fictional Washington for his network.

Register for the Program

Smashing Stereotypes in Science

A mother and cubs venture onto Hudson Bay. (Neil Ever Osborne)

Do you know who created the paper bag machine or who researches invertebrate sea life at the world's largest museum and research complex? For too long, women's contributions to science have widely gone untold. The Smithsonian Science Education Center, Smithsonian American's Women History Initiative, and Johnson & Johnson created Stories of Women in STEM at the Smithsonian to champion the ingenuity that has transformed America and beyond. The e-book designed for 5th through 8th graders features biographies of pioneering women who made history through their scientific discoveries and innovation. From aerospace engineer and mathematician Mary Golda Ross to hair-care entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker, young people can learn how women have defied gender stereotypes and overcome structural barriers to advance the science, technology, engineering, and math industry.

Read the Stories

Self-made Men

Portrait of Charlie Willis and aircraft image collage, courtesy of Paul Glenshaw

Charles Fountain "Whiskey" Willis was one of a kind. The highly decorated combat and rescue aviator flew fighters, torpedo and rescue planes, and bombers, surviving World War II from Pearl Harbor to V-J Day. Post-war, he ran a gonzo air cargo company that shipped everything from Doris Duke's camels to roses. At 38, Willis became president of then-tiny Alaska Airlines, which he ran as a scrappy upstart. Aviation historian Paul Glenshaw tells the tale of a man who ignored rules, precedent, and protocol to live an adventure of constant re-invention in a Smithsonian Associates Streaming program on Wednesday, March 24.

Chris Gardner, whose memoir The Pursuit of Happyness became a 2006 film, also followed his own rules as he moved from homeless single dad to stock brokerage executive to philanthropist. His new book Permission to Dream collects the hard-won personal and professional lessons he's learned along the way. He discusses them with Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit and co-founder of the Wing 2 Wing Foundation, in a program on Tuesday, April 13 that may offer a blueprint for some dreams of your own.

Register for the Charlie Willis Program

Register for the Chris Gardner Program