Ep. 2 | The Last Man Who Knew It All

Sidedoor Season 5

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collage of natural scenes.

Alexander von Humboldt might not be a name you know, but you can bet you know his ideas. Back when the United States were a wee collection of colonies huddled on the eastern seaboard, colonists found the wilderness surrounding them scary. It took a zealous Prussian explorer with a thing for barometers to show the colonists what they couldn’t see: a global ecosystem, and their own place in nature. In this episode, we learn how Humboldt—through science and art—inspired a key part of America’s national identity.

Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture will be on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2020.

Transcript

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