Can you remember a time when brands didn’t really matter, when products weren’t placed in every movie and TV show, when advertising didn’t saturate the very fabric of our existence? If so, you must have been alive before the 1980s, the decade that set the stage for the modern consumer culture we’re all immersed in today.That’s the premise of “Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s,” a new Hirshhorn exhibit that shows how artists grappled with those trends. Read more from Sadie Dingfelder for the Washington Post’s Express.

Connected By Design: R/GA’s Bob Greenberg Curates Exhibit for Cooper Hewitt

AdAge, February 15

blue typewriter

A Correcting Selectric II, Model 895 typewriter, one of the items in Bob Greenberg’s new museum exhibit about design and technology. Photo courtesy R/GA

RGA Chairman and CEO Bob Greenberg runs an agency that’s perhaps best known for its Nike innovations, the Owlet baby-monitor smart socks or the “Love Has No Labels” campaign for the Ad Council.

Now he’s becoming the first ad pro to put on an exhibition at New York’s Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, where the guest curators are more often musicians, fashion designers, artists and writers. Greenberg’s exhibit, which begins a six-month run on Feb. 23, showcases how design and technology have radically changed everyday life for decades.  Read more from Lindsey Stein for AdAge.

Hirshhorn to reschedule Krzysztof Wodiczko’s monumental projection after Florida school shooting

The 30-year-old piece showing two hands holding a gun and a candle is “strangely familiar and at once unbearably relevant”, the artist says

The Art Newspaper, February 15

Video projection

Public projection at the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, October 25-27, 1988. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Smithsonian Institution

The Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC, decided to postpone a monumental projection across its façade by the Polish artist Krzysztof Wodiczko that included an image of a gun after a school shooting in Florida killed at least 17 people on Wednesday (14 February). The site-specific work, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, 1988-2000, was restaged for the first time in 30 years on Tuesday and was meant to remain on display for three days to coincide with the opening of the exhibition Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s (until 13 May). The projection was stopped immediately following the Florida shooting, but on Thursday the museum announced that it would be rescheduling it at a later date, to be confirmed shortly. Read more from Gareth Harris and Helen Stoilas for the Art Newspaper. 

Vice President Pence Remarks at African American History Museum

Vice President Pence spoke at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. 

C-Span, February 13

There’s a Matchmaking Site for Gorillas, Too

The New Yorker, February 12

Gorillas holding hands

Baraka and Calaya got a one—the best possible ranking—on the Gorilla Species Survival Plan’s matchmaking scale.
Photograph by Connor Mallon / Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Baraka, a four-hundred-pound silverback gorilla, couldn’t take his eyes off the twelve-year-old Calaya when she arrived at the National Zoo, in Washington, from Seattle. He already had two females in his family, but “he was very taken by Calaya from the get-go,” Becky Malinsky, the zoo’s assistant curator of primates, told me. “She was in quarantine for thirty days, but he had visual access. He wanted to look at her all day. They were smitten from the beginning.”

Within an hour of being allowed in the same room, they mated. The match was no accident. It was years in the making—the result of a complex algorithm for pairing gorillas that may be more reliable than dating Web sites for humans. It’s certainly more detailed. Read more from Robin Wright for The New Yorker. Read more from Robin Wright for the New Yorker.

Collecting the World: Inside the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has over 144 million different objects in its collections. A sample of these collections are on display to the public, but 99 percent of the Smithsonian’s treasures remain behind the scenes. Scientists work with these objects to study and decipher the world we live in, each specimen offering its own tiny clue to the natural world.

Great Big Story, February 17

Hands off the Enid A. Haupt Garden and the Ripley Center (Opinion)

Alexandra Graubert is great-niece of Enid A. Haupt. Sylvia Ripley is a daughter of S. Dillon Ripley II.

The Washington Post, February 16

Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley II had a vision: a 19th-century garden to accompany the Smithsonian’s iconic 19th-century Castle. Hidden under the garden were two museums and a study center where education could take place at the Smithsonian. Ripley made friends with Enid Annenberg Haupt, a lady who loved gardens and who was inspired to become a donor. The Enid A. Haupt Garden was installed over the S. Dillon Ripley Center.

Ripley died in 2001. Haupt died in 2005. By 2012, the Smithsonian Institution began its plan to destroy the garden and the study center. Read more.

View of blooming tulips with Castle in background

Smithsonian Gardens, Enid A. Haupt Garden. Elizabeth Miller, photographer. April 2016.

The Haupt Garden demands constant work, and isn’t worth it (Opinion)

The Washington Post, February 16

The Mall and its environs are sacred and immutable spaces to Washingtonians, even if the steady growth of museums has changed its face greatly over the years.

So it was perhaps expected that there would be a fierce reaction to plans to rip out the 4.2 acre Enid A. Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle as part of a $2 billion, 20-plus year overhaul of the castle and its nearby museums.

The proposal first surfaced more than three years ago, but the dust has yet to settle, even if the futuristic Danish architect Bjarke Ingels has toned down an initial concept that had the garden replaced with a space-age tilting lawn, with new entrances to the world below. Read more from Adrian Higgins.