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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

This week we invite you to celebrate spring with blooms, birds, picnics, jazz and poetry, and cocktails to toast the warm weather ahead.

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.

Words and Music

The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture celebrates Poetry Month and National Jazz Appreciation Month in April with special digital offerings highlighting African Americans' contributions to today's jazz and poetry landscape. The museum's social media channels offer jazz compositions and poems by notable artists, including Amanda Gorman, Maya Angelou, Kevin Young (NMAAHC's director), and others, and The Power of Poetry blog series, covering African American poetry dating to the 1700s, debuts this month. Join in the celebrations by following @NMAAHC on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

This year's Jazz Appreciation Month spotlights the impact and contributions of women artists. A Thursday, April 2 Smithsonian Associates Streaming program takes a look into the creative life of one of the style's greatest singers, D.C.'s own Shirley Horne, fondly remembered both for her remarkable and sensitive voice and as a pianist. Jessica Boykin-Settles, a member of the voice faculty at Howard University, traces Horn's unique route to fame as she offers an appreciation of the talents of this one-of-a-kind jazz icon.

Register for the Program

The Power of Poetry

A Growing DC Treasure

The iconic Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum (Image by Christian Taylor-Low from Pixabay)

The beauty of spring can be captured by more than a camera. Dried plant specimens provide valuable resources for researchers. The U.S. National Arboretum's new online series "Pressing Matters" debuts with a free program on Thursday, April 22 that digs into how plants from all over the world are preserved in the form of herbarium specimens. Herbarium curator Harlan Svoboda provides a virtual behind-the-scenes glimpse into what it takes to collect and maintain 800,000 dried plant specimens. He explains what herbarium specimens can tell us and how the National Arboretum is working to make its herbarium collection accessible to visitors worldwide.

In a city with a wealth of stunning public gardens and natural landscapes, the National Arboretum can sometimes be overlooked by locals and tourists. Now that the season's magnolias, dogwoods, and azaleas are coming into bloom, it's the prefect time to rediscover its many attractions for nature lovers. The Washington Post recently offered a guide to make the most of your visit to the 446-acre site.

"Pressing Matters" online series

National Arboretum Guide

Wings Over Manhattan

American Kestrel by Matt Felperin

In January, a rare snowy owl that appeared in Central Park-the first spotted in more than a century-became the avian celebrity of the moment in New York City. This Friday, a new winged personality lays claim to that status. Big Bird from "Sesame Street" will nest on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a sculpture by Philadelphia-based artist Alex Da Corte. The commissioned installation depicts a metal and fiberglass bird perched on a crescent moon (a nod to a disco-era Donna Summer album cover) and suspended on a Calder-inspired mobile that sways and rotates in response to air currents. And Big Bird's feathers are blue-reflecting the version of the beloved television character Da Corte grew up watching in Venezuela. The New York Times has the story behind the sculpture.

You can immerse yourself in the world of birds (the non-celebrity kind) in several upcoming Smithsonian Associates Streaming programs. In a Sunday afternoon series, naturalist Mark H.X. Glenshaw takes an in-depth look at the magnificent great horned owl. Mating and family life is the topic for April 18, and the owl's hunting and feeding habits are examined on May 16. Do you wish you knew more about those intriguing-looking birds you spot in your backyard or on your walks? On Thursday, June 24, Matt Felperin, NOVA Parks' roving naturalist, offers an essential Birding 101 guide to what you see and hear designed for both beginning birders and those who want to take their skills to the next level.

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Great Horned Owls

Birding 101

A Global Picnic Basket

While a gingham tablecloth, a grill full of burgers and hot dogs, and a watermelon at its sweetest are among the makings of the all-American picnic, our outdoor dining traditions are just a slice of those enjoyed all around the world. Smithsonian magazine's recent look at how people from eight countries do their al fresco eating might provide the inspiration to spice up your next basket with some international flavor. How about fish balls from Hong Kong; a very British Scotch egg; a French pan bagnat of tuna, hard-boiled eggs, olive oil, and vegetables on country bread; or snacks like those sold at Mumbai's Chowpatty Beach? And why not try cups of the yerba maté tea that Argentinians love in addition to the traditional iced version in your thermos? Just think: Your favorite picnic blanket can cover the whole world.

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Cheers to Friends

Photos: Christopher Hwang and Annie Clemmons

If entertaining is among the things you're most looking forward to this year, a pair of Smithsonian Associates Streaming programs can help you dazzle future guests. On Thursday, April 22, two masters in composing after-dinner delights-owner and pastry chef Annie Clemmons of Chapman's DC and cocktail expert Mick Perrigo of Tincture Co.-show you how to make sublime dessert confections and build expert cocktails superbly crafted for each other. The pairings can add a special note to any get-together or celebration shared with friends.

Looking for some refreshing cocktail ideas for warm summer evenings? Join noted author and cocktail historian Philip Greene on Thursday, June 24 as he demonstrates how to make classics like the Tom Collins, Mojito, Southside, Daiquiri, and Jack Rose. He also discusses the histories and folklore of these drinks, and their cameo appearances in movies, literature, and popular culture. And DC-area participants can sip along with an optional cocktail sample kit.

Cocktails and Confections

Classic Summer Cocktails