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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

From the Olympics to Oz, posters of beloved park landscapes to tablescapes from a post-impressionist's kitchen, this week's digest serves up a refreshing summertime mix.

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.

Keepers of the Flame

Bill Baker 1980 hockey jersey (National Museum of American History)

Smithsonian curators started collecting Olympic artifacts in earnest in the 1970s and '80s, originally with an eye to the most famous and uncontroversial medal winners. But over the last 20 years, collecting has evolved to document the diversity of athletes and their compelling Olympic appearances. From the Miracle on Ice and Dominique Dawes to recent acquisitions from Tommie Smith, fencer Ibtihaj Mohammad, and the Paralympics and Special Olympics, the Smithsonian's Olympic collection tells a broad range of stories.

Hear some of them in a Smithsonian Associates Streaming program on Tuesday, August 3. As history is made at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo join curator Kenneth Cohen of the National Museum of American History for an engaging virtual tour of what's in the Smithsonian's Olympic collections-and what's not-as well as a look at how Smithsonian curators might approach the Games this year and beyond.

Register for the Program

All that Jazz

Smithsonian Associates members can add some zing to their summer by streaming a free concert video by the renowned Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. The closing performance of a November 2019 Asian tour, recorded at the Tokyo International Forum features vocalist Kurt Elling, a Grammy Award winner, and selections including Toshiko Akiyoshi's Song for the Harvest, Nuages by Django Reinhardt, Joe Jackson's Steppin' Out, and the Times Square Ballet from Leonard Bernstein's On the Town. SJMO's artistic director Charlie Young conducts the ensemble. The video is now available for viewing on YouTube through August 30.

You can also jazz up your fall in a pair of Smithsonian Associates Streaming programs led by music historian John Edward Hasse. On Thursday, September 30, he celebrates Frank Sinatra's unerring musical taste and deeply personal singing style, which blended the crooner techniques of a band singer with the phrasing and swing of a jazz master. In a Thursday, October 28 program Hasse draws on film and video clips, rare photographs, and original recordings to provide insights into Ella Fitzgerald's extraordinary journey from shy orphan to beloved international jazz great.

Watch the Jazz Beyond Borders Concert

The Art of Parks

Original WPA poster for the National Park Service (Work Projects Administration Poster Collection, Library of Congress)

One of most iconic of the WPA Federal Art Project's commissions is a series of posters designed to boost tourism in the country's National Parks system. Though just 14 different silk-screened designs were completed before the project was suspended, the poster prints became instantly popular with the public and remain coveted by collectors for their distinctive graphic style that captured the bold natural beauty of the American landscape. A collection of contemporary variations on these WPA posters has been created for the new book The Art of the National Parks. Each of the 59 striking posters is accompanied by a comprehensive history and overview of the flora, fauna, and best sights in each park, which make it an art book that can also be used as a practical guide for both in-person and armchair visitors. Learn more about the book and its artists at Artnet.

Dig into three National Parks-Glacier, Banff, and Jasper-on another level by joining geologist Kirt Kempter for an exploration of the splendid scenery and geology of the northern Rocky Mountains that straddle the border between the United States and Canada. The Monday, September 20 Smithsonian Associates Streaming program surveys the deep geologic history that created these spectacular park landscapes, which are now designated as World Heritage Sites.

And if you'd like to learn how an endangered Yellowstone National Park was saved by Teddy Roosevelt, a dinner party stuffed with wealthy Gilded Age hunting fans, and wildlife photos poached from the Smithsonian's 1887 annual report, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives shares the fascinating tale.

Geologic Tour of the Northern Rockies

Mysteries of Oz

It may not be the Yellow Brick Road, but the National Mall leads to a Smithsonian wizard. He's Ryan Lintelman, a curator at the National Museum of American History and an expert in Wizard of Oz memorabilia. Scholars from the Catholic University of America sought his advice recently when a long-lost treasure donated to the drama department-Judy Garland's blue-and-white gingham dress from the beloved film-was unexpectedly rediscovered in a shoe box stuffed into a trash bag. Lintelman and two conservators who examined it came to the conclusion that it could indeed be the real deal, news received as happily as that of the vanquishing of a wicked witch. Smithsonian magazine covered the decades-long path that led to the costume's rediscovery.

This isn't the first time that the museum, whose artifacts from the film include Ray Bolger's Scarecrow costume and a pair of Ruby Slippers, has assisted in solving an Oz-related mystery. In 2018, a conservator who worked on restoring the slippers helped sleuth out the answer to a question from the FBI: Were a pair of similar shoes in the agency's possession the genuine ones that had gone missing from the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota? Learn how a single glass bead on a shoe held the key.

Read the Story

Drawing on the Everyday

"People think a sugar bowl has no physiognomy or soul. But that changes every day here. You have to take them, cajole them. . . . These glasses, these dishes, they talk among themselves. They whisper interminable secrets."

For Paul Cézanne, those secrets were revealed in the drawings that filled his sketchbooks almost daily. Though best known as a painter, these renderings of objects on a kitchen table, his wife and son, or his favorite landscapes played a key part in shaping his vision as an artist. The Museum of Modern Art's new exhibition Cézanne Drawing brings together more than 250 rarely shown works in pencil and watercolor from across the artist's career. It's on view through September 25.

You can find your own inspiration in another favored Cézanne medium, pastels, which he used to produce brilliant and subtle effects. Learn to use the artist's color-blocking style to capture the hues of nature and the interaction of light and shadows as you work in the beautiful setting of the U.S. National Arboretum. The four-session Smithsonian Associates studio arts course led by artist Sandra Gobar begins Saturday, Oct. 9.

Cézanne Drawing Exhibition