Month: September 2012

North American Premiere of “Roads of Arabia” Unearths Hidden History of Ancient Arabian Peninsula

Exhibition at Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery Opens Nov. 17, U.S. Tour to Follow September 28, 2012 Ancient sources describe the legendary Arabian city of Gehrra as unmatched in wealth and importance. Located in the northeastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, the city attained mythical status in the ancient world, but its exact location was unknown until recently. In 1998, archaeologists discovered the first century A.D. tomb of a young royal girl outside the city of Thaj. Rich with gold, pearls and precious stones, including a Hellenistic gold funerary mask, the find led scholars to propose that Thaj may be none other than the lost city of Gehrra. The funerary treasures of Thaj are just a few of the surprising discoveries on display in “Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” opening Nov. 17 at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C. The exhibition, organized by the Sackler in association with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, features objects recently excavated from more than 10 archaeological sites throughout the Arabian Peninsula. The Sackler’s presentation of “Roads,” on view through Feb. 24, 2013, marks the U.S. debut for this unprecedented assembly, which will then travel to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum and venues in Chicago and Boston through early 2015. An earlier version of the exhibition, developed by the...

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Smithsonian Latino Center Announces Annual Day of the Dead Celebration

Latin American Holiday Is Celebrated Online September 28, 2012 The Smithsonian Latino Center announces its fourth annual Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, festival in its Latino Virtual Museum in Second Life, Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. This three-day online event will feature activities that celebrate this popular Latin American holiday. Day of the Dead is celebrated throughout Mexico, Central America and in many Latino communities in the U.S. as a way to honor deceased family and friends through the creation of altars or ofrendas, which include traditional foods, sugar skulls, marigolds and material goods that the deceased enjoyed while alive. This year’s Día de los Muertos festival will feature ofrendas to late Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, actress Lupe Ontiveros and artist Carlos Alonzo. Visitors will have the opportunity to tweet messages and offerings during the ceremony, which will be delivered in the Nagual language. Live art, music and cultural performances from artists and writers throughout the country will be featured, including activities from the National Museum of the American Indian. A highlight of the festival will be an ancient Mesoamerican ballgame played between Smithsonian Latino Center staff and University of Texas El Paso alumni. Information about the game can be found at www.ballgame.org. Other activities include the building of a community altar, drumming workshops, a fiesta de las calaveras (skeletons), a costume contest, a literary...

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Benishek Announcement – U.S. Service Academy Information Sessions

   U.S. Service Academy Information Sessions Attention Parents and Students:   I will be hosting a public information session for interested high school students and parents highlighting the U.S. Service Academy application process on Saturday, September 29, 2012 from 9:00am to 11:00am EST at Camp Grayling.    The information session is open to all interested students and their parents from Michigan’s First Congressional District. At the information session, students will have the opportunity to receive Information about applying for a nomination to the U.S. Military, Naval, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine Academies. A representative from the Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City will also be in attendance.   The Service Academies allow students to serve their nation while receiving a high quality, tuition-free education at some of the nation’s finest educational institutions. Representatives or information from each Service Academy will be available for attendees. There is no requirement for interested students to attend this information session in order to be considered for a nomination.   Interested students or parents should RSVP for this event by emailing Brandon Darin at brandon.darin@mail.house.gov   To learn more about the event or Service Academy nominations, please call 989-448-8811 or visit www.Benishek.house.gov.   The deadline for submitting applications to Dr. Benishek’s office is Friday, October 26, 2012.   SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2012   9:00-11:00am EST       Dr. Benishek’s U.S. Service Academy Information Session...

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Peering to the Edge of a Black Hole

September 27, 2012 Using a continent-spanning telescope, an international team of astronomers has peered to the edge of a black hole at the center of a distant galaxy. For the first time, they have measured the black hole’s “point of no return”—the closest distance that matter can approach before being irretrievably pulled into the black hole. A black hole is a region in space where the pull of gravity is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape. Its boundary is known as the event horizon. “Once objects fall through the event horizon, they’re lost forever,” said lead author Shep Doeleman, assistant director at the MIT Haystack Observatory and research associate at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “It’s an exit door from our universe. You walk through that door, you’re not coming back.” The team examined the black hole at the center of a giant elliptical galaxy called Messier 87 (M87), which is located about 50 million light-years from Earth. That black hole is 6 billion times more massive than the Sun. It’s surrounded by an accretion disk of gas swirling toward the black hole’s maw. Although the black hole is invisible, the accretion disk is hot enough to glow. “Even though this black hole is far away, it’s so big that its apparent size on the sky is about the same as the black hole at the...

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Photo opportunity: Unveiling of Celia Cruz’s portrait by Robert Weingarten at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History during Hispanic Heritage Month

What:  Photo opportunity: Unveiling of Celia Cruz’s portrait by Robert Weingarten at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History during Hispanic Heritage Month When:  Wednesday, October 3, 2012 – 9:30am Where:  National Museum of American History 14th Street and Madison Drive N.W. Note: Enter via Madison Drive entrance The National Museum of American History in conjunction with Robert Weingarten created a public collaboration to choose a subject for one of his metaphorical portraits. The museum offered the public the choice of five historic figures: Celia Cruz, Frederick Douglass, Samuel Morse, Audie Murphy or Alice Paul. After a two-week vote, the winner was Celia Cruz, the “Queen of Latin Music” (Celia Cruz, 1925-2003). The portrait was then composed using objects in the museum’s collection. It will be unveiled at the press event Oct. 3. Weingarten’s works are on display in an exhibition, “Pushing Boundaries: Portraits by Robert Weingarten,” in the International Gallery at the Smithsonian’s S. Dillon Ripley Center through Oct. 14. Weingarten is known for his visual biographies of well-known Americans from the worlds of art, culture, politics, sports and science, including Sonia Sotomayor, Hank Aaron and Dennis Hopper. Weingarten’s work is complemented by a selection of historic photographs from the museum’s collection. # # # SI-430-2012 Bookmark It Hide...

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