ICYMI: Highlights from the week that was March 4 – March 10, 2018

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.

Lava, yaks, frogs, Nancy Pelosi—and murderous otters. It was a wild week in Smithsonian news.


Clip art banner with ICYMI in black speech bibble

Smithsonian, John Deere Celebrate 100 Years of the Tractor

NPR, March 6

Green Tractor

The entrance to the Year of the Tractor, Precision Farming exhibit at the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian has declared 2018 “The Year of the Tractor.” It’s been 100 years since John Deere bought the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company. And now, a 1918 Waterloo Boy Tractor is featured in an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Read more and listen to the story: Michelle O’Neill reports tractors ushered in a new era of farming. 

The Hirshhorn Museum Welcomes New Masters

Director Melissa Chiu is highlighting contemporary works by women and putting politically and socially charged exhibits on display. As New York artist Pat Steir put it, “The time of women is coming.”

Vanity Fair, March 7

Arty group portrait

Hirshhorn Museum director Melissa Chiu, back row, fourth from left, surrounded by artists recognized at the Hirshhorn Gala, photographed at NeueHouse Madison Square, in New York. Left to right: (1) Lorna Simpson. (2) Katharina Grosse. (3) Tatiana Trouvé. (4) Mary Weatherford. (5) Mickalene Thomas. (6) Meredith Monk. (7) Melissa Chiu (Hirshhorn Museum director). (8) Pat Steir. (9) Mary Heilmann. (10) Sarah Sze. (11) Michal Rovner. (12) Haegue Yang. (13) Nairy Baghramian. (14) Dana Schutz. (15) Shirazeh Houshiary. (16) Kiki Smith. (17) Njideka Akunyili Crosby. (18) Rachel Feinstein. (19) Wangechi Mutu. (20) Taryn Simon. (21) Guerrilla Girls. (22) Susan Rothenberg. (23) Ai Jing.
Photograph by Gina LeVay.

Melissa Chiu, the director of the Hirshhorn Museum since 2014, has put the buzz back into Washington, D.C.’s staid art scene. The driving force behind back-to-back critically acclaimed exhibitions that dived full on into the politically and socially challenging questions of our times, Chiu—a native of Darwin, Australia, and a scholar of contemporary Chinese art—is the first non-American to head the museum, a part of the Smithsonian Institution. “My coming from elsewhere allows me a fresh perspective on the importance of this democratic society,” she says. “We are interested in the idea of `What does a museum of modern contemporary art do today?’ We are in this extraordinary transitional moment between the 20th and 21st century, and it is art museums that can help people understand this transition.” Read more from A.M. Homes for Vanity Fair. 

Lava, yaks and frogs: the Smithsonian magazine photo contest – in pictures

The Guardian, March 7

Close up of frog with orange eyes and toes

The Window – During my stay at a Costa Rican hotel, I noticed that red-eyed tree frogs flooded the gardens. As I approached this frog, it climbed into one of the holes in a leaf, as if it were sticking out of a window
Photograph: Salvador Colvée Nebot

The finalists in six categories have been chosen out of 48,000 submissions from photographers in 155 countries. Here we showcase a few. See all 60 finalists from’s 15th Annual Photo Contest and vote for the Readers’ Choice winner.

Nancy Pelosi donates suit, gavel from swearing in as first woman House speaker

CBS News, March 7

The first woman speaker of the House — now Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California — commemorated women’s “firsts” by donating items from her Jan. 4, 2007 swearing in and speech as speaker of the House to the Smithsonian National American History Museum Wednesday.

“I’m really humbled by my colleagues who had the courage to elect the first woman speaker of the House — that was no small feat — bringing us closer to the ideal of equality that is America’s hope and heritage,” Pelosi said at the ceremony.

The otter seemed ‘cute’ — until it leaped on her kayak and lunged at her face

The Washington Post, March 8

Otter giving side-eye

A young oriental small-clawed otter eats a meatball in 2015 in a zoo in Dresden, Germany. (Arno Burgi/AFP/Getty Images)

Sue Spector was kayaking with her husband down the pristine Braden River in western Florida when she spotted an otter.

Spector, 77, from Sarasota, turned around in her boat early Sunday morning and, catching a glimpse of the small river dweller, thought to herself, “Oh, this is a cute otter,” she told the Tampa Bay Times.

The animal, usually known for its curiosity and playful demeanor, leaped onto the kayak and lunged at Spector. Read more and watch video from Lindsey Bever for The Washington Post. 


Posted: 11 March 2018
About the Author:

The Torch editor is fired with a burning desire to ignite the flames of enthusiasm among her Smithsonian colleagues while brandishing the Torch of knowledge. She also likes puns.