“Food: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000,” which opened last month at the American History Museum, traces the changes in food production and processing, and highlights the myriad divergent strands that took root after World War II in the culture around eating. It includes the kitchen of food television’s first star, Julia Child, and the 18-seat table in the middle is the perfect invitation for visitors to sit and swap memories, or perhaps recipes.
“Birds of Paradise: Amazing Avian Evolution,” the nine-part National Geographic exhibition that runs through May 2013, tells the enchanting evolutionary story of the New Guinea birds that have developed bizarre extremes of color and behavior as part of a millions-of-years-long process of “perfect sexual selection.” Nearly a decade of vivid, painstakingly detailed photography is displayed along with kid-friendly interactives. Worth it just for the bird with the trippy psychedelic smile.
“Bring Back the Funk” Concert on the Mall. Surely some sort of weird, Chocolate City, karmic circle has been completed when you hear Smithsonian Institution and make my funk the p-funk in the same sentence. George Clinton, Meshell Ndegeocello and Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk performed on the first day of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival as part of the yearlong celebration of the African American History and Culture Museum’s groundbreaking in February. Particularly fun was Ndegeocello’s dedication of a James Brown classic to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). “Say it loud/I’m black, and I’m proud.”
The National Children’s Museum will reopen finally (!) Dec. 14 at the National Harbor in Prince George’s County after closing its Northeast Washington doors eight years ago. Though many who remember the old location have kids who’ve aged out of the demographic, the reopening adds an exciting new choice for parents who’d likemore educational options for playdates.
“Preparing for the Oath: U.S. History and Civics for Citizenship”. This interactive Web site, a joint partnership between the American History Museum and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services, was unveiled in May. It showcases artifacts and recounts history to help immigrants prepare for the 100-question citizenship test in a way so simple, informative and fun, I had my two kids, 14 and 10, go through each capsule and take the test — and sent it to their teachers! It’s a great way to make history accessible.