Image description: The iconic “Court of Neptune Fountain” in front of the Library of Congress’ Jefferson building. The fountain, sculpted by Roland Hinton Perry, shows Neptune, his son Triton, and various sea nymphs.
Photo from the Architect of the Capitol
Image description: In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, one of the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art, Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang will stage an “explosion event” on November 30 at 3 p.m. EST.
If you’re in Washington, D.C., you can watch the event live from the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery on the National Mall. It will also be broadcast live online for everyone to watch.
The event combines pyrotechnics, artistry, and optical illusion in four dimensions.
This image is a sketch for the event. The Gallery describes it as
A live 40-foot-tall pine tree will erupt in an effervescent shimmer of fireworks as if in a tree-lighting ceremony, followed by a cascade of black ink-like smoke that mimics the flowing beauty of traditional Chinese brush drawings. The tree-shaped cloud of smoke drifting through the air will create a spectral scene of two trees, one real and one ethereal.
The site-specific staging is part of Cai’s larger series of “explosion events,” which have been featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC; Central Park in New York City curated by Creative Time; and numerous international institutions.
Image description: This relief is carved out of nine pounds of butter. Caroline Shawk Brooks created it in 1876 and it was displayed at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Learn more about this and other historic butter sculptures.
Photo from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Image description: A moment in time from the multi-media artwork “Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii” by Nam June Paik in 1995. The 40 foot-long piece is constructed of 336 televisions, 50 DVD players, 3,750 feet of cable, and 575 feet of multi-color neon tubing.
According to the Smithsonian, Nam June Paik is hailed as the “father of video art” and credited with the first use of the term “information superhighway” in the 1970s. He recognized the potential for media collaboration among people in all parts of the world, and he knew that media would completely transform our lives.
Electronic Superhighway, currently on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, is a testament to the ways media defined one man’s understanding of a diverse nation.
Learn more about the piece and the artist (PDF document). For teachers, there is a curriculum based on the artwork.
Photo from the Smithsonian American Art Museum
Image description: This 1969 poster from Continental Airlines promoted travel to Hawaii. In the mid 1900s, airline advertisements encouraged travelers to visit exotic destinations.
The National Air and Space Museum has a collection of more than 1,300 posters that focus on advertising for aviation-related products and activities. View more posters in the Fly Now online exhibit.
Image from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum