One Smithsonian

Addressing complicated issues and global problems such as zoonotic diseases, climate change, and the rapid loss of natural resources resulting from human activities and population pressures requires work that spans disciplines and organizational boundaries. The Smithsonian’s potential to tackle complex challenges, as well as to innovate in design, technology, and other pursuits, is greatest when our museums, galleries, Zoo, research centers, education centers, and mission-support offices work together as One Smithsonian.

This section of the Dashboard highlights forward-thinking, interdisciplinary, and cross-Smithsonian activities that tackle pressing issues and chart new paths that the Smithsonian is particularly well suited to address due to its unique combination of science, history, art, and culture experts and global partnerships. Learn more at Smithsonian Global, Smithsonian Insider, and Join the conversation at Second Opinion.

The Long Conversation

On Friday, Dec. 1, the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building was the scene of a radically different Smithsonian experience—a seven hour conversation consisting of a relay of short, unmoderated, two-person dialogues, unified by a common question: What makes you optimistic about the future? Surprising conversationalists from all walks of life included musician Yo-Yo Ma; Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser; writer for The Atlantic Frank Foer; Director of Harvard’s Center for the Environment Daniel Schrag; neuroscientist Cori Lathan; Latinx comic-book writer Gabby Rivera; and 24-year-old Cuban American theoretical physicist Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski, whom Harvard calls “the next Einstein.” Watch The Long Conversation here.

Interplay of Science and Art at the Sackler

A new exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, “Secrets of the Lacquer Buddha”, uses modern technology and scientific analysis to reveal how three extremely rare life-sized Chinese Buddha sculptures—from the Freer Gallery of Art, Walters Art Museum in Baltimore and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York—were created and what they are made of. X-radiography, computerized tomography, X-ray fluorescence analysis, scanning electron microscope and other methods provide insights into the lacquer process used in sixth- and seventh-century China and allow visitors to peer into the science behind the art of ancient lacquer. Find out more here.

Latinos and Baseball

The National Museum of American History is collaborating with the Smithsonian Latino Center, Smithsonian Affiliations and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, along with 10 partner organizations, to carry out the Latinos and Baseball: In the Barrios and the Big Leagues initiative. The multi-year community collecting project focuses on the historical role baseball has played as a social and cultural force within Latino communities. The initiative builds on a growing body of original research, oral histories and collections by and with Smithsonian partners to document the impact Latino communities have had on American history and culture through the sport. Stories from the public about the role baseball has played in their lives are being collected on the project website.