Special Sub-Topic: The Smithsonian Institution
|The original "Smithsonian" building is "the Castle" centered on the Mall. What is the name of the style (or type) of architecture that the building is designed in?|
Norman. Norman style is defined as a twelfth-century combination of late Romanesque and very early Gothic. It looks like something you might find in an old horror movie. "The Castle", as it is affectionately known, was designed by architect James Renwick Jr and completed in 1855. Today it houses the administrative offices and the Smithsonian Information Center.
|One of the many buildings of the Smithsonian is the Postal Museum, which has over 16 million philatelic items in its collection. One of the exhibits is the first postage stamps issued in America, in 1847. George Washington was on the ten-cent stamp. Who was featured on the five-cent one?|
Benjamin Franklin. This is fitting, as Ben served as the first postmaster of the colonies (among many other things). The Postal Museum is located at 2 Massachusetts Avenue NE.
|In 1962, the Smithsonian acquired the National Portrait Gallery and opened it to the public in 1968. The Gallery's most prized possession is a portrait of George Washington that was saved from being auctioned in 2001. Who painted this famous portrait, known as the "Lansdowne portrait"?|
Gilbert Stuart. The Lansdowne portrait was purchased for $20 million (!) by the Donald Reynolds Foundation and donated to the Smithsonian in 2001. The portrait, depicting Washington standing in a black velvet suit, was painted by Stuart in 1796 for William Petty, Lord Shelburne, First Marquis of Lansdowne, a British supporter of the American Revolution. Until 2001 it was privately owned by an English citizen.
|The National Museum of African Art, at 950 Independence Avenue SW, has many great examples of the art of the African continent, both ancient and modern. In 2000, one of the exhibits was titled "Oshogobo Art in the 1960s". In what African country is Oshogobo located?|
Nigeria. Oshogobo is a Yoruba town in western Nigeria. The exhibit concentrated on the 1960s, the time of a major transformation in art of the society.
|At the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City, you can see the works of this man, having the distinction of being the first person to successfully market his designs (furniture, silverware, etc.) using his famous name. |
Russel Wright. Long before Martha Stewart and K-Mart, there was Russel Wright, a designer who has been referred to as "the Modfather". The exhibit features Wright's furniture, tableware, glassware, and silverware arranged as you might find it in a "mod" home of the mid-20th century. The other gentlemen named are also artists whose work can be seen at the Cooper-Hewitt.
|The Smithsonian American Art Museum is the home to the world's largest collection of American works- over 37,000. However, this historic building was not always a museum. What was it previously?|
Patent Office Building. The Patent Office Building was constructed in 1841, and served as the place where American inventors such as Thomas Edison recieved patents for their works. In addition, the building was used as a hospital during the Civil War and was the site of President Lincoln's second Inaugural Ball in 1865. In 1957, this building was saved from the wrecking ball by those who wanted to preserve its history, and it opened as the National Collection of Fine Arts in 1968. In 1980, the name was changed to the National Museum of American Art.
|One of the most popular sites in the Smithsonian's collection is the National Zoological Park, or zoo. One of the exhibits in the Zoo is called Lemur Island, where you can see these primates that are indigenous to what country?|
Madagascar. Lemurs are endangered primates native to Madagascar, an island nation off the east coast of Africa. At the National Zoo you can see ring-tailed lemurs and red-fronted lemurs as they scamper about their island.
|One of the biggest conservation programs at the National Zoo is the Golden Lion Tamarin program. What are Golden Lion Tamarins?|
Monkeys. Golden Lion Tamarind (or GLTs) are small monkeys native to Brazil. They are one of four species of lion tamarins (Leontopithicus), so named because their shaggy fur resembles a lion's mane.
|In the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art, which featues many works of Asian art, you can find changing exhibits on different types of art. One 1999 exhibit featured art dedicated to this six-handed Indian Great Goddess.|
Devi. Devi, also known as Jaganmata, or Mother of the Universe, is a central figure of Hinduism. In fact, the Hindus consider all goddesses different manifestations of Devi.
|Which of the Smithsonian's buildings was constructed in 1881 for the purpose of housing exhibit materials acquired from the nation's Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia?|
Arts and Industries Building. This museum, located at 900 Jefferson Drive SW, is a red brick and sandstone building designed in High Victorian style. Its first use, in 1881, was for the Inagural Ball of President James Garfield. The name of the building, "Arts and Industries", refers to the theme of the Centennial Exposition whose exhibits were stored in it. Today the museum hosts exhibits on a variety of topics, from Chicano culture to deaf Americans.
|The most popular of the Smithsonian's museums is the National Air and Space Museum, or NASM. One of this museum's exhibits, "Milestones of Flight", displays aircraft that featured in some historic first. What is the claim to fame of the Bell X-1 aircraft Glamouous Glennis?|
First aircraft to travel at the speed of sound. In 1947, pilot Chuck Yeager had the distinction of being the world's first supersonic pilot (first to break the sound barrier in flight) at a speed of 670 miles per hour. The experimental aircraft in which he did this, Glamorous Glennis, was named for his wife, Glennis.
|One of the exhibits in the National Air and Space Museum, "Explore the Universe", features ways in which people have attempted to explain the heavens since the dawn of time. Among the instruments on display is a Tycho Armillary Sphere. For what was this used?
To locate heavenly objects in the sky. The armillary sphere, invented by Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, consists of moveable rings and sighting devices used to measure the position of a celestial object or the differences between the positions of two objects- i.e. the moon and the sun.
|In the "Exploring the Planets" exhibit of the National Air and Space Museum, you can see Vikings 1 and 2, craft designed to study what celestial body?|
Mars. These craft were launched in 1975 and reached the Red Planet in 1976. Although designed for only six months on Mars, the landers stayed there for six and four years each, sending back thousansa of images of the planet.
|Harry Winston donated this object to the National Museum of Natural History; today it's probably the most famous item in residence.|
Hope Diamond. This 45.52-carat whopper is described as a "fancy dark grayish-blue". The history of the gem can be traced back to the Kollur mine in Golconda, India, from where it was purchased by the French travelling merchant Jean Baptiste Tavernier. He sold it to King Louis XIV of France in 1668, and in 1678 the stone was recut, producing a 67 1/8-carat stone. What was now known as the French Blue Diamond was stolen in 1792 during a looting of France's crown jewels, and resurfaced in 1812 in the possession of London diamond merchant Daniel Eliason. Its next owner was the well-known Henry Philip Hope, the man for whom the diamond is now named; however, how it came into his possession is a mystery. In 1902 the stone came to New York City, after being sold by one of Hope's descendants to pay debts. Its next owner was Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McLean, of Washington D.C., who had it made into the pendant on a necklace as it is today. In 1949 the noted American jeweler Harry Winston of New York City purchased Mrs. McLean's entire jewelry collection, including the Hope diamond, from her estate. In 1958, after having toured the world on exhibit, the diamond settled down in the Smithsonian, its present home.
|In the National Museum of Natural History's exhibit called "Textiles of the North American Southwest", you can see many fine examples of Mexican cobijas, which are
Blankets. The term "cobija" is used to refer to Mayo (American Indians native to Sonora and Sinaloa) textiles in order to distinguish simple blankets from more elaborate ones, called sarapes.
|The National Museum of Natural History boasts the world's largest collection of foraminifera. What are Foraminifera?
single-celled organisms that construct shells. The Smithsonian's collection of these numbers over 16,000. According to the paleobiology department's website, foraminifera can be classified into two groups: "benthic, which live in sediments on the sea floor, and planktic, which live in the upper 300 feet or so of the ocean."
|One of many interesting items you can see in the National Museum of American History is one of these, made by Antonio Stradivari in Italy in 1701.|
violin & violincello. Antonio Stradivari, the Cremona craftsman, was perhaps the most famous violin maker of all time. You can see one of his violins on display in the Hall of Musical Instruments, which features musical instruments from the US and Europe.
|One of the most popular exhibits in the National Museum of American History is "The American Presidency", which features many artifacts reflecting the holders of the nation's highest office. One of the items you can see is a model log cabin on a pole, carried by supporters of this President in his "log cabin" campaign.|
William Henry Harrison. William Henry Harrison, our ninth President, has the distinction of having the shortest Presidential term. He died of pneumonia in April 1841, after having served as President for only one month. The Vice-President then became the first Vice-President to actually succeed to the Presidency. Harrison chose the log cabin as his campaign symbol in order to stress his humble origins (although he claimed to have been born in a log cabin, historians now believe that this wasn't so).
|What American chef gave her entire kitchen to the National Museum of American History in November 2001?|
Julia Child & Child. The kitchen, designed by Julia's husband in 1961, opened on August 19, 2002. For seven years the kitchen was the setting for three popular public-television series featuring the well-loved chef. It took museum employees six months to unpack over 50 cartons of 1,200 items featured in the exhibit.
|In the National Museum of American History, you can see an exhibit titled "Electricity" that traces the invention of the light bulb and the development of electricity in America. Here you will learn that the world's first large-scale central generating station opened at this place in 1895.|
Niagara Falls. "It employed two-phase AC techniques invented by Nikola Tesla and was thus more efficient than previous alternating current systems", according to the Smithsonian's website.
All of the information for this quiz is from the Smithsonian's huge website, which is the next best thing to being there!
Did you find these entries particularly interesting, or do you have comments / corrections to make? Let the author know!
Send the author a thank you or
Submit a correction