ICYMI: Highlights from the week that was Sept. 25 – Oct. 1, 2016

Designs for living, a new mom’s learning curve, disappointing news from Cuba and an enormous naked fat man from the week that was.

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

The Hyperreal Magnetism of the Truly Huge “Big Man”

Smithsonian, Sept. 29, 2016

Sculpture of large, seated, naked man

“Untitled (Big Man)” by Ron Mueck, 2000, is on view at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden through August 6, 2017. (Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Joseph H. Hirshhorn Bequest, Photograph by Cathy Carver)

Australian sculptor Ron Mueck thinks big. And his sculpture Big Man, sitting in a corner of the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture in Washington, D.C., is a very big result of that thinking.

Naked, overweight, grumpy, an ungainly Goliath, Untitled (Big Man)—back on view in the museum’s “Masterworks” exhibition—is easily the most startling and unexpected piece of art in the entire museum, rising seven feet from the floor even sitting down. Read more from Owen  Edwards for Smithsonian.com.

In ‘By the People,’ Designing for the Underserved and Overlooked

The New York Times, Sept. 29, 2016

Four-wheeled bicycle tractor

A pedal-powered tractor that evolved from crowd-sourced tinkering is part of “By the People,” opening Friday at the Cooper Hewitt. (Photo: Philip Greenberg for The New York Times)

A few years ago, while Chattanooga, Tenn., made headlines for revitalizing its downtown, residents, mostly African-Americans, living just a few miles away in the Glass Farms neighborhood, were struggling to cope with years of disinvestment and decline. Storefronts were empty, buildings abandoned. Crime was through the roof….

“By the People: Designing a Better America,” opening on Friday at the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt, taps into a rich vein of entrepreneurial beneficence. It is about the intersection of poverty, prosperity, innovation and design, and it couldn’t be timelier. If stories like the one from Chattanooga unavoidably turn out to be more complicated than any museum display can make clear, the spotlight is at least pointed in the right direction. Read more from Michael Kimmelman for The New York Times.

Shake shake shake. Planet Mercury may have earthquakes

PBS Newshour, Sept. 29, 2016

Bright blue and gold photo of upper half of planet

False color image of the eastern limb of Mercury as seen by MESSENGER as the spacecraft departed the planet following the mission’s first Mercury flyby in January 2008. The colors convey information about the distribution of different rock types on Mercury’s surface. The Caloris basin, visible as a large bright yellow circular area in this image due to its infill of volcanic plains, dominates the northern region. Photo and caption by NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

The hills of Mercury are alive with earthquakes, according to a study published Monday in Nature Geoscience. The diminutive planet joins Earth as the only other known tectonically active planet in the Solar System.

“We have to take another look at how rocky planets are evolving,” said Thomas Watters, Smithsonian planetary scientist and study co-author. Read more from Harry Zahn for PBS Newshour.

2016 Hirshhorn Gala Returns to New York City with Debut Peformance by Ragnar Kjartansson

Artnet, Sept. 30, 2016

Still image showing artist at mic with orchestra and hot pink curtain behind him

Ragnar Kjartansson, God (2007). Courtesy of photographer Rafael Pinho/the artist/Luhring Augustine, New York and i8 Gallery, Reykjavík.

Sorry DC. The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is coming back to New York for its 2016 gala, which will feature the world premiere of a new performance by Ragnar Kjartansson, whose first museum survey opens at the museum on October 14. The gala will be held on November 3 at One World Trade Center.

“All I can say is that it will involve mariachi bands,” Melissa Chiu, the museum’s director, told artnet News of the closely guarded details of Kjartansson’s piece in a phone conversation. “It’s a brand new performance.” Read more from Sarah Cascone for Artnet.

Zoo’s newest orangutan mom faces a learning curve (Video)

WTOP, Oct. 1, 2016

Motherhood can be quite the adjustment–and that goes for new orangutan moms, too.

While the Smithsonian National Zoo said the mother and baby are doing well, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Batang,an orangutan at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, since her baby was born Sept. 12. Read more from  Lara Bonner for WTOP.

Smithsonian cancels plan to feature Cuba at the 2017 Folklife Festival

The Washington Post, Oct. 1, 2016

Crawods on the Mall with Capitol in the background

A view of the 2009 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. (Photo by Jeff Tinsley)

The Smithsonian Institution has canceled an ambitious plan to showcase Cuban culture on the Mall in Washington at the 2017 Folklife Festival because negotiators could not agree on the contract that would govern all aspects of the event.

After exhaustive preparations by Cuban and American scholars that began more than a decade ago, culminating in last-ditch efforts to redraft a memorandum of understanding this past spring and summer, the document remained unsigned late last month. Read more from David Montgomery for The Washington Post.

Posted: 11 October 2016
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