Ask a Curator Day: Indulge your curiosity, history nerds!

Getting to handle and study treasured artifacts, pursuing fascinating research adventures all day, and building inspirational exhibitions—people who work in museums sure are lucky. But much of the time, museum workers do all these cool things behind the scenes. All that changes on Wednesday, September 13, 2017. Curators and other museum staffers will be lured away from their daily work to answer yourquestions for Ask a Curator Day, so get your questions ready.

The day I decided not to collect: A curator's view of Ground Zero

About a month after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, I received a phone call from a colleague asking if I wanted to take a trip up to New York City to collect objects from Ground Zero for the museum.

Greensboro, Charlottesville, and the nation we build together

Though we began planning for these new exhibitions years ago, the stories and artifacts within them speak directly to the challenges and anxieties of the present.

Now you're cooking with electricity!

Before Alton Brown, Rachael Ray, and Giada De Laurentiis, there was Louisan Mamer (1910–2005). An early employee of the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), Mamer traveled around the country teaching farmwomen how to use electricity in their daily lives. Demonstrating how to cook with electricity was a major part of Mamer's job and she developed many recipes during the course of her career.

Smithsonian Secretary Skorton's introduction to our new wing, The Nation We Build Together

I had the pleasure of participating in the grand opening of the museum’s impressive new wing, The Nation We Build Together. The design of the displays brings the exhibition themes to life, allowing visitors to learn, see, hear, and experience how Americans have come together over time to create our country. I wanted to share a few of my early impressions, both for those planning to visit in person and also for those who will experience these stories through our websites, blogs, and social media.

"Xerxes the Great did die, and so must you and I": Learning about the alphabet and the inevitability of death in early Protestant America

Do you remember the books that helped you learn to read—maybe Dick and Jane, Dr. Seuss, or Clifford the Big Red Dog? No matter the answer, odds are your experience was very different from most Protestant children living in early America.

Pass the syrup and enjoy a slice of history for National Waffle Day

Americans eat a lot of waffles. Served sweet or savory, topped with fried chicken, syrup, or fruit, the waffle eaten today has a long and mouthwatering history.

Dogs for defense: how Skip, Spot, and Rover went off to fight World War II

Imagine being asked to contribute your best friend to the war effort, if your best friend has four legs, is furry, and goes by the name of Max.

Donkeys, lard, and a telescope: eclipse exploration in 1878 and 1900

Something borrowed, something blue—that is what Samuel P. Langley, director of the Allegheny Observatory in Pennsylvania, was counting on in July 1878 as he waited on Pikes Peak, Colorado, for the wedding of light and shadow displayed by a total eclipse of the sun.

Cats on cash

Coins are a powerful tool used to communicate strong messages through varied symbolism. In addition to portraits of influential people and meaningful phrases such as "E Pluribus Unum," animals have often played a prominent role in currency design in the United States and around the world. While American coinage favors our national symbol, the bald eagle, other countries have immortalized different animals of cultural significance on their currency.

Pages