“These collections serve as primary reference materials for exploring and understanding the solid Earth and planet, biological and cultural diversity, evolutionary relationships, biological conservation, and global change. They help us to interpret our biological origins, our cultural heritage, and what the future may hold.”
Messy Nessy recently shared a fascinating series of photos of some of the Smithsonian NMNH’s backstage collections, enormous rooms full of seemingly endless drawers, shelves, racks, and cabinets all full of carefully cataloged and organized specimens from many different branches of natural history. The photos were all taken by the late Chip Clark, photographer for the Smithsonian Institution.
At Renwick Gallery, part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum you can find this wonderful exhibition by Gabriel Dawe from now until July 2016, where thousands of strands of polyester sewing thread have been individually strung from floor to ceiling to create a monumental spectrum of color, often mistaken for fleeting rays of light.
The show is successful because the show is so good, and the show is so good largely because of Lin-Manuel Miranda. His secret is that he writes in service of character, to advance story. He doesn’t write merely to be clever, to show off. Without having to contrive event or fabricate plot he breathes life into history and Alexander Hamilton, animates him, stands him up and makes him sing, makes him human for a couple of hours.
“A genius? I’m not sure what that word means,” his father said one morning. “What I admire most about him is his humility.”
So maybe Miranda’s genius lies in his willingness not to behave like a genius—an outlier, a singularity—but rather to dissolve himself into the group, the collective in which ideas and improvements are argued on their merits.
A democracy in which the best idea wins.
Or maybe he’s not a genius at all, just a hard-working young playwright with a great ear and a good heart who loves words and people—so people and words love him back. All those things. None of those things. Does it matter? He helped make a masterpiece.