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This year has been unlike any other in recent history, bringing many unprecedented circumstances and challenges. As 2020 comes to a close, the Smithsonian will host a daylong program convening a national conversation about what life has been like for Americans during this moment in history. Ten Smithsonian museums and cultural centers will come together Friday, Dec. 11, to host “24 Hours in a Time of Change.” Throughout the day, the Smithsonian will offer virtual programs centered around contemporary issues, from the COVID-19 pandemic to racial injustice, and invite the public to reflect on and share their personal experiences grappling with the challenges of today.
By collecting stories from the public, “24 Hours in a Time of Change” seeks to bring people together through a national dialogue and help the Smithsonian capture a snapshot of a day in the life of the nation. On the website 24hours.si.edu, users can find a series of prompts to guide their reflections, posing questions like What traditions have you and your family started this year? What message would you send your future self about your life in these changing times? and How is art shaping your response to this moment? Select responses will be featured on the program website throughout the day, and they will be archived to help Smithsonian curators build collections related to this moment in history. The public can see highlighted stories on the website or on social media with the hashtag #Smithsonian24Hours.
In addition to the digital conversation, the 10 participating museums and centers will host a series of virtual recorded and live programs sharing different perspectives on contemporary issues throughout the day. A full schedule can be found online. Highlights include:
Gardens as a Source of Resilience, 10 a.m.
Smithsonian Gardens will host a webinar exploring personal relationships with plants and celebrating garden communities during challenging times.
Listening to Family, 11 a.m.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture will feature interviews, intergenerational discussions and home videos illustrating family life during this era of pandemic and social unrest.
Grassroots Responses on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations, 2 p.m.
The National Museum of the American Indian will host a conversation with activist Shandiin Herrera (Diné) about how COVID-19 has affected her hometown community and how an Indigenous-led operation to aid vulnerable families highlighted the struggle for racial justice.
Knowing Our Past, Creating Our Future: Washington, D.C.’s History of Black Power and Neighborhood Organizing, 2:30 p.m.
The Anacostia Community Museum will host a virtual discussion about community control of land and housing in Washington, D.C.
Curating Crises, 4 p.m.
The National Museum of American History will offer a behind-the-scenes look at how curators are collecting and documenting the history-making events of 2020.
Writing My Resilience, 8 p.m.
The National Portrait Gallery will host a virtual writing workshop starting with a story of resilience from the museum’s collection, followed by a writing prompt and time for participants to document and share their own stories.
All times are Eastern Standard Time.
About the Smithsonian
Since its founding in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution has been committed to inspiring generations through knowledge and discovery. It is the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, consisting of 19 museums, the National Zoological Park, education centers, research facilities, cultural centers and libraries. There are more than 6,300 Smithsonian employees and 6,900 volunteers. There were more than 22 million visits to the Smithsonian in 2019. The total number of objects, works of art and specimens at the Smithsonian is estimated at nearly 155 million, of which nearly 146 million are scientific specimens at the National Museum of Natural History.
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