Smithsonian Magazine October 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 “What a tribute to human courage, compassion, curiosity and resilience!” Sudan’s Priceless Past During the years my wife and I spent in Africa since the 1980s, Sudan (“In the Land of Kush,” September 2020) was always in some phase of turmoil and it never came up on the travel radar when stacked against the usual Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa destinations. Your article goes back 3,500 years to cover the amazing sites to see and experience in person now that the government has stabilized and internal travel is safer. It’s a wonderfully told history and includes remarkable photographs of the archaeological sites. — Richard Sim | Falls Church, Virginia Looted Library It is absolute insanity that the culprits in “The History Thief” did not get heftier sentences. Over $8 million in stolen…

things that matter

HOW WE COLLECT OF ALL THE REASONS people visit the Smithsonian, number one is the collections. Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, the Wright Flyer, the Hope Diamond: Each gives me chills—an electrifying sense of encountering the past. Some of the proudest moments of my professional career have been finding those pieces that can excite, educate and awe our audiences. I’ve learned that good collecting requires flexibility, community partnership and a healthy dose of serendipity. With over 156 million items in our ever-growing collections, the Smithsonian acquires objects in many ways: through donations from individuals and organizations, through scientific field expeditions, and in the case of living collections, through birth or propagation. Sometimes we seek out specific items; other times we work within a community to see what we can unearth. For instance, the collections…

the past is prologue american icon

How our oldest communications network forged a nation ROM 1753 TO 1774, AS HE oversaw Britain’s colonial mail service, Benjamin Franklin improved a primitive courier system connecting the 13 fragmented colonies into a more efficient organization that sped deliveries between Philadelphia and New York City to a mere 33 hours. Franklin’s travels along the post roads would inspire his revolutionary vision for how a new nation could thrive independent of Britain. But not even he imagined the pivotal role that the post would play in creating the Republic. By the early 1770s, Franklin’s fellow patriots had organized underground networks, the Committees of Correspondence and then the Constitutional Post, that enabled the founders to talk treason under the British radar. In 1775, before the Declaration of Independence was even signed, the Continental Congress…

new horizons

marketing the moon

LONG BEFORE scientists and engineers could send astronauts into space, they had to convince the public—and the officials who would fund these first forays—that such a wild undertaking was possible. “You couldn’t just say, ‘We’re going to build rockets,’ and ask people to believe it—you really had to show them how,” says Piers Bizony, a British journalist and author of the lavishly illustrated book The Art of NASA, out this month. It reveals how the agency and its contractors sold many of their otherworldly ideas to a sometimes skeptical nation. From cutaways of lunar modules and landing capsules, to fantastical depictions of life on Mars in far-off 2020, these images represented NASA’s first steps in the space race and helped build congressional support for ambitious projects like the space shuttle.…

the cowboy poet

SOUTH DAKOTA’S FIRST POET laureate lived much of his life alone in a prim cabin in the heart of Custer State Park. He wore whipcord breeches and polished riding boots, a Windsor tie and an officer’s jacket. He fed the deer flapjacks from his window in the mornings, paid $10 a year in ground rent and denounced consumerism at every turn. “Lord, how I pity a man with a steady job,” he wrote in his diary in 1941. Born January 1, 1883, Badger Clark built a career writing what many today call “cowboy poetry,” and what many others, then and now, call doggerel. Clark himself seemed resigned to this lowbrow status. “I might as well give up trying to be an intellectual and stick to the naivete of the old cowboy…