A Piece Of History: The Treadmill That JFK Died Trying To Rollerblade On Is Coming To The Smithsonian

The tragic death of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy continues to reverberate in the hearts and minds of Americans more than 50 years later, reminding us that even our most powerful leaders are ultimately mortal. Now you can see a rare artifact from one of the most chilling events of the 20th century in person: The treadmill that JFK died trying to Rollerblade on is coming to the Smithsonian.

The National Museum of American History in D.C. has announced that the treadmill will be presented as part of a special exhibit exploring the president’s last days in office, which culminated in his untimely death at the age of 46 in the White House rec room.

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Natural history museums are truly awesome and astonishing places, but did you know that they’re home to even more specimens than what they have out on display? The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) in Washington, D.C. maintains a vast collection of specimens that’s over 90% larger than what’s on public display.

“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.

Head over to Messy Nessy to view more.

[via Messy Nessy Chic]

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When Scientists Get Accidentally Artsy

A new exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History lies right at the intersection of art and science, showcasing the inherent beauty of skeletons — that is, fish skeletons.

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1800s Week!

Sailors and Daughters: Early Photography and the Indian Ocean

A reader dropped a mention of this online exhibit in my inbox for 1800s Week, and I can’t tell you how blown away I was by the incredible beauty of these photographs. There are many, many gorgeous images to see and a lot of important historical information at the website here!!

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Wonder (by Gabriel Dawe)

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.

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Meet Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Genius Behind “Hamilton,” Broadway’s Newest Hit (Smithsonian Magazine): 

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.

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has just done The Internets proud and won the #JurassicZoo meme (previously featured here). They’ve got real dinosaurs, you see. Sure, they may be fossilized remains, but they’re still the real McCoy and Dinosaur Curator Matthew Carrano is clearly an expert at keeping those pesky prehistoric bones in line.

[via Smithsonian’s NMNH]