Smithsonian Magazine September 2020

Smithsonian Magazine takes you on a journey through history, science, world culture and technology with breathtaking images from around the world.

United States
Smithsonian Institute
11 期号



TWITTER: @SmithsonianMag INSTAGRAM: @smithsonianmagazine FACEBOOK: smithsonianmagazine “There is only lip service paid to the plight of this species in the wild.” Endangered Bonobos You can imagine my excitement when I received the Smithsonian with the stunning close-up of the bonobo Teco filling the cover (“The Divide,” JuIy/August 2020). However, there is only lip service paid to the plight of this magnificent species in the wild, and alongside the beautiful images of bonobos by the photographer Kevin Miyazaki, the story included a number of other, older photographs of humans in direct contact with the apes themselves. We know from published research that images of endangered primates with humans, or human artifacts, give people the impression that non-human primates are not endangered, or even worse—that they make good pets. Including these images without a discussion of these…

lesson plans

GROWING UP THE KID of two educators meant that our dinner table was more than a place for shared meals; my parents would dole out family wisdom, quiz us on current news, and expect us to opine on any topic from Socrates to Sojourner Truth. They ingrained in me early the importance of education. That’s why, when I think about how the Smithsonian can be of value to our public, the answer is clear: education. And as our country’s educational practices and structures have been disrupted by Covid-19, we must redouble our efforts to support audiences to learn and grow. During the pandemic, we have stepped up our offerings for learners of all ages—supplementing school curricula, presenting lecture series and creative programming, providing digital tours and online exhibitions. At the same time,…

rollin’ along

IN 1758, THE FRENCH ETHNOGRAPHER Antoine Simon Le Page du Pratz published The History of Louisiana, in which he wrote that the Mississippi River’s name meant “the ancient father of rivers.” Though his etymology was off—the Ojibwe words that gave us Mississippi (Misi-ziibi) actually mean “long river”—the idea has proven durable. “Ol’ Man River” buoyed Show Boat, the 1927 musical by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. During the 1937 flood, Raymond Daniell wrote in the New York Times about frantic efforts to raise barriers “faster than old man river could rise.” Now it appears that the Mississippi is far older than Le Page thought, and it used to be far bigger than the Ojibwe could have imagined. And it might even become that big again in the future. These are the…

current event

THE MORNING OF JULY 6, 1930, Fred Newton waded into the Mississippi River in Minneapolis and started swimming. He told reporters he planned to reach New Orleans in 90 days. An athletic 27-year-old from Clinton, Oklahoma, Newton aimed to be the first person to swim the river’s length, hoping the exploit would bring wealth and fame. His younger brother Byron followed in a rowb oat, carrying supplies and taking notes to document Fred’s torturous journey. On the second day, Newton encountered floating mats of manure and stinking animal parts dumped off the stockyards of South St. Paul. But he kept swimming, even amid the Upper Mississippi’s treacherous whirlpools. Along the way, Newton stopped in riverside towns. A talented artist, he sometimes painted signs for local businesses in exchange for a meal…

blanket statements

ACCORDING TO AFRICAN AMERICAN oral tradition, people escaping slavery via the underground railroad relied on a code sewn into quilts, which were hung in windows or over clotheslines to mark the route to freedom. The legend remains controversial, but when New York-based artist Sanford Biggers stumbled upon it more than a decade ago, he was intrigued by the possibility that the handmade bedding might have carried hidden messages. Since then, he has transformed dozens of pre-1900 quilts into mixed-media artworks, over 60 of which are slated to be on view starting this month at the Bronx Museum of Art. “I thought it would be interesting to add extra layers of code,” says Biggers, who draws on urban culture, Buddhism and history to construct his own secret iconography. “I’m actually communicating…

daring to face the past

WE WERE AN ODD COUPLE, Karen and I, when we first arrived at the Montgomery County Archives in Alabama. These days, descendants of both slaves and slaveholders come to the archives seeking the truth about their past. Rarely do we arrive together. Karen Orozco Gutierrez, of Davenport, Iowa, is the greatgranddaughter of an enslaved man named Milton Howard, whose life she has long worked to document. As a girl, Karen heard stories about her great-grandfather, who told his children he was born in the 1850s to free people of color in Muscatine, Iowa, but that when he was a child he was kidnapped by slavers and taken with his family down the Mississippi River. His first enslaver was a planter in Alabama named Pickett. Combing through records online, Karen established that Pickett…