The Man Who Corporatized Our National Museums
August 01, 2014

How J. Carter Brown transformed the American art world.

The National Women's History Museum Apparently Doesn't Much Care for Women's Historians
April 06, 2014

No actual historians are on staff—and that's led to some serious inaccuracies.

Crowdfunding Culture: Namaste, and Welcome to the Smithsonian
July 02, 2013

This Monday, the Smithsonian was scheduled to wrap up the biggest crowdfunding campaign ever undertaken by an American museum. The subject of the exhibition in question? Yoga.

The Smithsonian's $2 Million in Sandy Aid is Not Pork
January 15, 2013

Turns out everyone was wrong, and no one bothered to ask.

The Birth of Antiperspirant, The Roots of Consciousness, and the Civilian Military Split: Today’s TNR Reader
August 06, 2012

Editor’s Note: We’ll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home. Enjoy! The end of odor: Just how bad did Americans smell before Edna Murphey brought us antiperspirant? Smithsonian Magazine | 8 min (1,985 words) Could Germany’s circumcision ban be the worst attack on Jewish life since the Holocaust? Dissent | 9 min (2,233 words) Mutual Assured Ignorance: Can the Pentagon and the State Department ever work together effectively?

The Drive-In's Perennial Appeal and the Next Race for Space: Today's TNR Reader
June 15, 2012

Editor’s Note: We'll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home. Enjoy! The 1950s are long gone, but the appeal of the drive-in movie theater is perennial. Smithsonian Magazine | 3 min (799 words) Watergate happened forty years ago, but the battle over Nixon’s legacy has been ongoing.

The Collector
December 14, 2011

On a warm Saturday in early July, an employee at the Maryland Historical Society placed a call to the police. He had noticed two visitors behaving strangely—a young, tall, handsome man with high cheekbones and full lips and a much older, heavier man, with dark, lank hair and a patchy, graying beard. The older man had called in advance to give the librarians a list of boxes of documents he wanted to see, saying that he was researching a book. At some point during their visit, the employee saw the younger man slip a document into a folder.

'Hide/Seek' And The Problem With Funding Controversial Art
February 10, 2011

NPR today had what strikes me as a wildly slanted report on the controversial National Portrait Gallery exhibit 'Hide/Seek,' which honors the contribution of gay and lesbian artists. The exhibit created controversy because, under political pressure from conservatives, it removed a video depicting ants crawling on a crucifix. The unchallenged point of view conveyed by the report was that opponents of the exhibit claimed they were offended on religious grounds but actually were anti-gay bigots: The show had been open for a month, and hadn't received a single complaint.

Underground Coal Fires
July 21, 2010

Over at Foreign Policy, Joshua Keating writes about a little-known natural disaster—underground coal fires in northern China: China's recent industrial growth depends heavily on coal -- the source of 70 percent of the country's energy—a major reason why it recently became the world's largest carbon emitter. The country's mining sector is also extremely dangerous, killing as many as 13 miners every day.