YOUR 2023 SMITHSONIAN POCKET GUIDE

Amazing Things Happen Here

From our museums in Washington, DC and New York City, to our traveling exhibitions in venues closer to home, to our website and mobile apps, you will always find something worthwhile to discover and enjoy.

This 2023 pocket guide offers a small sample of the thousands of things to see and do at the Smithsonian this year, all made possible thanks to the support of people like you.

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National Mall Map

SMITHSONIAN MUSEUMS LOCATED ON OR NEAR THE NATIONAL MALL IN WASHINGTON, DC

The David H. Koch Hall of Fossils - Deep Time
In its new pose devouring a Triceratops, the Nation's T. rex is the centerpiece of the David H. Koch Hall of Fossils—Deep Time.

The David H. Koch Hall of Fossils - Deep Time

June 8, 2019 - Permanent, National Museum of Natural History

The new David H. Koch Hall of Fossils showcases the museum's unrivaled collection of 46 million fossils re-positioned in new, dramatic, more scientifically-accurate positions, and presents the most up-to-date scientific research on how life on Earth has evolved.

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Slavery and Freedom
Freedom papers and handmade tin carrying box belonging to Joseph Trammell, 1852. Gift of Elaine E. Thompson

Slavery and Freedom

September 24, 2016 - Permanent, National Museum of African American History and Culture

As the centerpiece of the museum, this exhibition explores the complex story of slavery and freedom, a story standing at the core of our national experience.

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Many Voices, One Nation
Photo: Joel Barlow

Many Voices, One Nation
The Great Leap of Faith

Summer 2017 - Permanent, National Museum of American History

At the heart of this nation lies a great search for balance between unity and pluralism. Many Voices: One Nation presents the five-hundred-year journey of how many distinct peoples and cultures met, mingled and created the culture of the United States.

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Americans
Photo: Indian Chief motorcycle on loan from the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, Birmingham, Alabama. Photos by Matailong Du for the National Museum of the American Indian

Americans

January 18, 2018 – 2027, National Museum of the American Indian

American Indian represent less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, yet names and images of Indians are everywhere: military weapons, town names, advertising and that holiday in November. American invites visitors to take a closer look, and to ask why.

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Portrait of Frederick Douglass by an unidentified artist
Frederick Douglass by an unidentified artist. Oil on canvas, 1845. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

One Life: Frederick Douglass

June 16, 2023 - April 21, 2024, National Portrait Gallery

One Life: Frederick Douglass illuminates the legacy of one of the 19th century’s most influential writers, speakers and intellectuals through prints, photographs, and ephemera. After escaping slavery in 1838, Douglass published three autobiographies and a novella, delivered thousands of speeches, and edited the longest continually running Black newspaper of the 19th century. Always a radical activist, Douglass devoted his life to abolitionism and “all rights for all.” A political insider and policy influencer during the Civil War, he befriended and advised President Lincoln. Crucially, Douglass changed traditional rules of representation by explaining how “true art” (as opposed to insidious caricatures) could be an engine of social change.

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Cauleen Smith, Sojourner, 2018, digital video, color, sound, 22:41 minutes
Cauleen Smith, Sojourner, 2018, digital video, color, sound, 22:41 minutes, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible by the SJ Weiler Fund, 2020.54.1, 2020, Cauleen Smith

Musical Thinking: New Video Art and Sonic Strategies

June 16, 2023 - January 29, 2024, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Musical Thinking: New Video Art and Sonic Strategies explores the powerful resonances between recent video art and popular music. The exhibition focuses on video art that employs the strategies of musical creation—scores, improvisation, and interpretation—as well as its styles, structures, and lyrics to speak to personal as well as shared aspects of American life. Rich with cultural references and emotionally evocative, the works in the exhibition use music to call up memories, capture attention, provoke insight, and invite visceral engagement. Rather than treating soundtracks as secondary, the musical choices in the featured videos are key to their meaning and impact. The presentation celebrates major new acquisitions to SAAM’s media art collection. The featured artists draw on the vast cultural influence of American music. Whether turning to early spirituals, jazz and mid-century musicals, or movie soundtracks and hip-hop, each artist deeply considers the traditions, methods, and purpose of music in daily life. Connecting innovative forms, past and present, to the American experience, they emphasize that our national story has always been complex, multivocal, and set to music.

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photo of different types of cell phones

Cellphone: Unseen Connections

June 23, 2023 - TBA, National Museum of Natural History

Cell phones are the most iconic technology of our age. For the first time in history, telecommunications connect people at a truly global level, rapidly transforming not only human culture but also humans themselves. Despite their ubiquity, and the intimacy in which cell phones are situated in our daily lives, their complicated life histories remain hidden from their most avid consumers. Through authentic artifacts, immersive and digital experiences, and data visualization, Unseen Connections illuminates the world of cell phones at the intersection of science, art, technology, and society.

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George Armstrong Custer by unidentified artist
George Armstrong Custer by unidentified artist. Quarter-plate ambrotype, 1859. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Duty, Honor, Country: Antebellum Portraits of West Pointers

June 23, 2023 - June 9, 2024, National Portrait Gallery

In the years leading up to the Civil War, the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, emerged as a vital training ground for men who built the nation’s infrastructure, played decisive roles in its military campaigns and took part in its political life. Drawn exclusively from the Portrait Gallery’s collection of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes, this exhibition features early camera portraits of individuals such as Ulysses S. Grant, George Armstrong Custer, John Pelham, “Stonewall” Jackson, and Gouverneur Kemble Warren. The course of these men’s lives and careers was shaped by their education at West Point.

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Family Ties: Daguerreotype Portraits

Family Ties: Daguerreotype Portraits

July 1, 2022 - June 11, 2023, National Portrait Gallery

Within a decade of its introduction in 1839, the daguerreotype—the first commercially viable form of photography—emerged as a highly popular means of documenting family relationships. Affordable pricing fueled the popularity of the daguerreotype and technical innovations made it possible to produce successful images of multiple sitters. This paved the way for the boom in family portraiture. The portraits in this exhibition reflect the range of familial relationships documented by the camera during the daguerreian era. While they include nuclear family groups, they also speak to other meaningful family bonds— those shared by a young brother and sister; an aunt and a beloved niece; a young man and his father-in-law; a caring uncle and his nieces and nephews; and long-married couples.

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One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection

One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection

April 1, 2022 - July 16, 2023, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The Hirshhorn has been collecting the prolific work of Yayoi Kusama since 1996. Our 2017 survey of her work traveled to five North American art museums, introducing Kusama’s spellbinding visions to record audiences. Next up: an exhibition of her five works in our permanent collection, including two of the artist’s transcendent Infinity Mirror Rooms, sculptures, an early painting, and photographs of the artist. One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection is a tribute to the life and practice of this visionary artist. Owing to the nature of the artwork, free timed-entry passes are required throughout the run of the exhibition.

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Frank O'Hara by Grace Hartigan, 1966
Frank O'Hara by Grace Hartigan, 1966

Artist to Artist

October 1, 2021 - September 3, 2023, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Assembled from the museum’s extensive twentieth-century holdings, Artist to Artist features eight pairings: Yayoi Kusama and Joseph Cornell, George Tooker and Paul Cadmus, Los Mailou Jones and Elizabeth Catlett, Frank O'Hara and Grace Hartigan, Yasuo Kuniyoshi and Bumpei Usui, Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock, Joan Brown and Elmer Bischoff, and Ray Yoshida and Christina Ramberg. Each pairing represents two figures whose trajectories intersected at a creatively crucial moment, whether as student and teacher, professional allies, or ardently close friends. Based in common goals or shared life experience, the personal interactions represented by these works helped shape and sustain American art.

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Designing Peace

Designing Peace

June 10, 2022 - September 4, 2023, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Designing Peace explores the unique role design can play in pursuing peace. The exhibition features design projects from around the world that look at ways to create and sustain more durable peaceful interactions—from creative confrontations that challenge existing structures to designs that demand embracing justice and truth in a search for reconciliation. Visitors will encounter a wide range of design responses to the underlying reasons for conflict and division, such as socioeconomic inequality, resource competition, and environmental degradation—and will be encouraged to consider their own agency in designing peace through interactive installations, quiet moments of reflection, and opportunities for practical action.

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Mitsitam Cafe

Mitsitam Café

National Museum of the American Indian

This cafe features Native foods found throughout the Western Hemisphere, including the Northern Woodlands, South America, the Northwest Coast, Meso America and the Great Plains.

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Sweet Home Cafe

Sweet Home Café

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Sweet Home Café showcases the rich culture and history of the African American people with traditional, authentic offerings as well as present-day food traditions. * Access to the museum is limited and entry pass may be required

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Castle Cafe

Castle Café

Smithsonian Castle

An assortment of fresh baked goods, gelato and fresh fruit makes the Castle Café the perfect place for a quick snack. The café also offers a seasonal selection of sandwiches, salads, and soups.

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Dolcezza

Dolcezza at the Hirshhorn

Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden

Located in the courtyard of the museum, Dolcezza offers locally sourced and handcrafted gelato, specialty espresso drinks, and gourmet pastries in a stunning contemporary setting designed by world-renowned artist Hiroshi Sugimoto.

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March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963. Courtesy of National Archives

Voices And Votes: Democracy In America

Delta Gateway Museum, Blytheville, Arkansas

June 1, 2023 - July 14, 2023

When American revolutionaries waged a war for independence they took a leap of faith that sent ripple effects across generations. They embraced a radical idea of establishing a government that entrusted the power of the nation not in a monarchy, but in its citizens. That great leap sparked questions that continue to impact Americans: who has the right to vote, what are the freedoms and responsibilities of citizens, and whose voices will be heard? Voices and Votes: Democracy in America will be a springboard for discussions about those very questions and how they are reflected in local stories.

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Girlhood exhibit graphic

Girlhood (It's complicated)

Minnetrista, Muncie, Indiana

June 3, 2023 - September 17, 2023

Girlhood (It’s complicated) features rarely seen objects and new acquisitions from the National Museum of American History. The exhibition unpacks the diversity of girls’ experiences at the intersections of gender, race, and class. Visitor testing during exhibition development has demonstrated the power of this content to engage audiences and stimulate inter-generational discussions. Girlhood provides many opportunities for venues to customize the installation by showcasing their own objects and local stories.

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The Bias Inside Us exhibit graphic

The Bias Inside Us

Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama

June 3, 2023 - July 2, 2023

The Smithsonian Institution, committed to leading and encouraging civil dialogue on important issues facing our nation and the world, is leading a community engagement project called The Bias Inside Us. Our goal is to help visitors understand and counter their implicit biases and build capacity in communities to convene dialogue that will increase empathy and create more inclusive schools, communities, and workplaces. The four-year project, developed with a national advisory council and Smithsonian experts, is a community engagement effort that will consider the connections between implicit bias and group dynamics, how they can lead to explicit acts of bias and hatred by individuals and whole societies, and what we as individuals can do about it.

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Water/Ways
US Department of the Interior/Bureau of Reclamation

Water/Ways

Connecticut River Museum, Essex, Connecticut

June 3, 2023 - August 13, 2023

Water/Ways dives into water—an essential component of life on our planet, environmentally, culturally, and historically. In societies across the globe, water serves as a source of peace and contemplation. Many faiths revere water as a sacred symbol. Authors and artists are inspired by the complex character of water—a substance that is seemingly soft and graceful, and yet a powerful and nearly unstoppable force. Water also plays a practical role in American society. The availability of water affected settlement and migration patterns. Access to water and control of water resources have long been a central part of political and economic planning. Human creativity and resourcefulness provide new ways of protecting water resources and renewing respect for the natural environment.

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Smithsonian Online Exhibits

Online Exhibits

Can't make it to the museums in person? Explore Smithsonian exhibits online!

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Smithsonian Blogs

Smithsonian Blogs

Staff, interns, volunteers and others share insights and stories that provide a closer look at the Smithsonian's collections, research and more in Smithsonian blogs.

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Smithsonian Learning Lab

Learning Lab

Discover more than a million resources, create personal collections and educational experiences, and share your work.

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Smithsonian Science Education Center

Smithsonian Science Education Center

Students of all ages can learn science from the Smithsonian Science Education Center's videos, games, blog posts, ebooks and more.

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All of the amazing things in this pocket guide, along with everything else the Smithsonian has to offer, is possible thanks to generous supporters like you.