Image of Marian Anderson singing at Lincoln Memorial
American History

The Smithsonian Collection—Marian Anderson’s Mink Coat

April 7, 2017

On Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939 African American contralto Marian Anderson performed an unprecedented open-air concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. What she wore on that day illustrated that, despite stereotypes and obstacles, an African American woman could transcend entrenched social and cultural barriers to achieve fame, fortune, and success. […]

Image of the Hope Diamond
American History

The Curse of The Hope Diamond

March 12, 2017

There had been, over the years—even decades—numerous stories about how the Hope Diamond carried an ancient curse. Several commentators questioned the wisdom of accepting the diamond. If the Smithsonian was the national museum of the United States and it acquired the Hope Diamond, then the country would own it. Would the American people then be cursed? […]

image of brush lettering of the Japanese Language
Language

The Japanese Language: Context Is Everything

February 14, 2017

Japanese language is highly contextual. It’s hard to know how to say something in Japanese unless you know the details of the social context. And that reflects a long-standing Japanese concern with order, with hierarchy, and with consensus. […]

American History

Symbols of Freedom: The Statue of Liberty

February 14, 2017

The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of freedom, recognized around the world, and it heralded this wave of immigration that gave America a much more diverse face, though it didn’t start out that way, or with that purpose in mind. […]

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