ICYMI: Highlights from the week that was Sept. 18 – 24

No one can keep up with everything, so let us do it for you. We’ll gather the top Smithsonian stories from across the country and around the world each week so you’ll never be at a loss for conversation around the water cooler.

For news about the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, please search A People’s Journey, A Nation’s Story.

“1963-1975” at the Anacostia Community Museum

WETA – September 19,2016

Still image showing black teenagers

Still image from WETA AROUND TOWN, Sept. 19, 2016

WETA Around Town talks with curator Marjorie Lightman and artist Lou Stovall about the exhibit “1963-1975” at the Anacostia Community Museum. Watch the video

Once barely surviving, the grass on the Mall gets a serious makeover

The Washington Post – September 19, 2016

low-angle photo of grass with Smithsonain Castle and Washington Monument in the background

Green once more. A nine-year effort to restore the worn-out turf on the Mall is nearing completion. The result is a new greensward designed to take a lot of use. (Photo by Bill O’Leary / The Washington Post)

All eyes this week are on the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, but another profoundly important project on the Mall is nearing completion and worth celebrating. Read more from The Washington Post.

The Founder of the Smithsonian Institution Figured Out How to Brew a Better Cup of Coffee – September 20, 2016

gif oof Smithsoni holding a cup of coffee and a beer

Founder James Smithson (1765-1829) published a paper in search of better way to brew coffee and then considered how his method might work with hops to make beer. (NPG/ Wikimedia Commons / Flickr user Marcelo Braga / Flickr user sammydavisdog)

Almost two hundred years ago, James Smithson devised a method for better brewing. We recreated it. Read more from

New Book Calls for Removal of Outdoor Cats ‘By Any Means’

National Geographic – September 20, 2016

Two cats in an alley, one in extreme closeup

Feral cats roam the streets of Baltimore. But are they really public enemy number one? (Photo by Vincent J. Musi)

Cat Wars ignites a fiery debate over the impact of felines on birds, and what to do about it. Read more from National

Infant orangutan thriving, now on exhibit at National Zoo

WTOP – September 20, 2016

Mother cuddling infant orangutan

Batang bonds with her infant in the Great Ape House at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. The baby Orangutan was born at 8:52 p.m. on Sept. 12, 2016. (Photo by Alex Reddy, Smithsonian’s National Zoo)

Eight days after it was born, the first orangutan born at the National Zoo in more than 25 years, has a name and a mother who appears to be a natural after a dozen years of training. Read more and watch a video from


Three Howard University Track Students Ran Through the Hirshhorn to Commemorate the African American Museum Opening

Washingtonian – September 22, 2016

Three runners in track suits pose in museum's central atrium

Basil Niccolls, Hanah Billups, and Kahe Edward Kaye at the Hirshhorn before the performance of Theaster Gates’ “The Runners.” (Photo by Evy Mages)

When Basil Niccolls was a freshman at Howard University in 2013, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture was a very large hole in the ground. Although the museum was authorized in 2003, construction didn’t begin until 2012. By the time Niccolls saw it, construction workers were building the museum’s four underground floors, each one representing a different era in African American history. Read more from the Washingtonian.

Over 1,200 Archaeologists and Museum Staff Condemn Destruction Wrought by Dakota Pipeline

Hyperallergic – September 21, 2016

protesters carrying banners and beating drums

Stand with Standing Rock march this month in Seattle (Photo by John Duffy/Flickr)

In a letter released today, 1,281 archaeologists, museum directors and staff, anthropologists, and historians expressed their solidarity against the destruction at Standing Rock by the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Initiated by the Natural History Museum (NHM), a mobile museum founded by the arts collective Not an Alternative, the letter was sent to President Barack Obama’s administration. Read more from Hyperallergic.

“Celebrating Charlie”: CBS News honors the career of Charles Osgood

CBS News – September 23, 2016

Osgood at piano wearing trademark bowtie

Charles Osgood tickling the ivories on the set of “Sunday Morning” (Photo courtesy CBS News)

CBS News will honor the career of Charles Osgood with a special edition of “CBS Sunday Morning,” titled “Celebrating Charlie,” to be broadcast Sept. 25, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. ET on the CBS Television Network. After the final broadcast, Osgood’s bow-tie will be donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, where it will become part of its permanent collection. Read more from CBS News.

 The Bird-Based Color System that Eventually Became Pantone

Hyperallergic – September 22, 2016

Book with color samples next to taxidermy birds

Milton Bradley’s ‘Elementary Color’ (1895) with three leaf warblers (photo by Allison Meier for Hyperallergic)

 An effort to describe the diversity of birds led to one of the first modern color systems. Published by Smithsonian ornithologist Robert Ridgway in 1886, A Nomenclature of Colors for Naturalists categorizes 186 colors alongside diagrams of birds. In 1912, Ridgway self-published an expanded version for a broader audience — Color Standards and Color Nomenclature — that included 1,115 colors. Some referenced birds, like “Warbler Green” and “Jay Blue,” while others corresponded to other elements of nature, as in “Bone Brown” and “Storm Gray.” Read more from Hyperallergic.

Posted: 29 September 2016
About the Author:

The Torch relies on contributions from the entire Smithsonian community.