Calendar of Events - April 2016

March 14, 2016

Editor’s Note: All programs are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. The museum will operate extended hours during the National Cherry Blossom Festival March 20 - April 17, staying open until 7:30 p.m. on those days in addition to offering special shop merchandise and Café menu selections. Exceptions apply; visit

Featured Event

April is Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM)! This year’s celebration hosted and organized by the museum includes concerts, educational activities and new displays. A sample schedule of events is available below. For a full schedule, please visit:

The Blue Note Photographs of Francis Wolf
April 1 – July 1, 2016
Archives Center, First Floor, West

The Archives Center will open a display of photographs of jazz musicians, “The Blue Note Photographs of Francis Wolff.”  Francis Wolff was the co-founder of Blue Note Records as well as the photographer who created most of the company’s record album cover images. Large photographic prints on display depict such luminaries as Art Blakey, Ornette Coleman, and Miles Davis in the 1950s-1960s. 

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra: Benny Carter: The Groundbreaking King of Jazz
Saturday, April 2; Doors open at 6:45 p.m., Concert starts at 7:30 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, First Floor West
Tickets Required:
Food and drink available for purchase

To kick off Jazz Appreciation Month, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra salutes the masterworks of the artist featured on the 2016 JAM poster: the saxophonist, trumpeter, composer, and arranger, Benny Carter. Known as "King," Benny Carter was a major contributor in the development of jazz. As a musician, he helped shape the alto sax as a solo instrument in jazz; as a composer, he helped create the vocabulary of swing; and as a bandleader and arranger, he broke down racial boundaries in jazz and spread the music around the world. As Miles Davis once said, "everyone should listen to Benny Carter, he's a whole music education."

Celebrating Benny Carter: Jazz Appreciation Month Daytime Series
April 7, 14, 21 and 28; performances at Noon, 1:00 and 2:00 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, First Floor West

Visitors will be able to enjoy free, live jazz performances in the Coulter Performance Plaza throughout the month of April. Featuring three performances every Thursday, the museum presents the finest of local jazz for all. The U.S. Air Force Band’s Airmen of Note Ensemble will perform on April 7 and 14. Members of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Ensemble will perform on April 21. The George Washington University Latin Jazz Band will perform on April 28.

Percussion and the African Diaspora: A History of Innovation
Saturday, April 9; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Spark!Lab and Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, First Floor West

Musician-educator Dante' Pope leads a team of percussionists in a hands-on lesson about the instruments and innovations of the African Diaspora. From the hand drum to the drum kit to the electronic music production center, instruments have been developed along a line of innovation, giving rise to new opportunities for expression and experimentation. Pope and his team of expert percussionists will be stationed throughout the Lemelson Center galleries, giving interactive demonstrations and history lessons on a range of instruments which culminate in a free concert in the Coulter Plaza.

Frank Sinatra at 100
Through June 30, 2016
Artifact Walls, First Floor, Center

This display marks the centennial of one of the giants of the entertainment world, Frank Sinatra (1915-1998), illustrating his popular music, jazz, and motion picture career. Items on view include photographs, sheet music, album covers, and costume items. A boom microphone of the type used by Sinatra illustrates how he combined the “crooner” techniques of the band singer with the improvisational approach of the jazz musician to produce a unique sound which took him to the top of the charts and inspired and informed generations of singers.

Ray Charles: “The Genius”
Through June 26, 2016
Artifact Walls, Second Floor, Center

Ray Charles was one of the most innovative and influential musicians of the 20th century. This display explores his ability to overcome blindness, poverty, and segregation, as well as the musical talent and flair for performance that made him an icon of American music. On view are Charles’ keyboard MIDI controller, tuxedos worn during some of his 10,000 performances, sheet music for his 1960 hit “Georgia On My Mind” and Braille editions of Playboy magazine and Reader’s Digest.

Classical Performances

Masterworks of Four Centuries
Sunday, Apr. 3 and Saturday, Apr. 9; at 7:30 p.m.; pre-concert lecture at 6:30 p.m.
Hall of Music, Third Floor West
For ticket information, visit:

The Smithsonian Chamber Players — Vera Beths (violin), Nicholas Cords (viola), Kenneth Slowik (violoncello), Robert Nairn (bass), Charles Neidich (clarinet), Dominic Teresi (bassoon), William Purvis (horn) — present Beethoven’s Trio in G Major, Op. 9, No. 1; “Spring Sonata,” Op. 24; Septet, Op. 20.

Food History

Cooking Up History: The Mexican-American Table
Friday, April 8; 2:00 p.m.

Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, Demonstration Kitchen, First Floor, West
For more information, visit:

“Cooking Up History” will feature guest chef Amelia Morán Ceja, the president of Ceja Vineyards from Napa, California. Morán Ceja will share the signature flavors and styles of cooking that she learned from her grandmother in Jalisco, Mexico, including making tortillas and salsa from scratch. During the demonstration, Morán Ceja will discuss her experiences as the daughter of vineyard workers in Napa, how she adjusted to American life, and how she continues to honor her heritage with her family-run winery in the Carneros wine district.

Ask a Farmer
Friday, April 15 and Friday, April 29; 2:00 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, First Floor West

Curious about where your food comes from? How are farmers innovating American agriculture today? “Ask a Farmer” is a public program where technology connects farmers from their homes and fields across the country to museum audiences. Hear directly from farmers about the motivations and challenges of their work. See the full schedule at:

Book Signings

Sweet As Sin: The Unwrapped Story of How Candy Became America’s Favorite Pleasure
Saturday, April 2; Noon – 2:00 p.m.
Mall Store, Second Floor

Author, food historian and candy expert Susan Benjamin will sign copies of her book, “Sweet As Sin,” which tells the story of candy from the harvesting of the marshmallow plant in ancient Egypt to the mass-produced candy innovations of the 20th century. Throughout the book readers are given an assortment of facts and characters including a deposed Mexican president who started the modern chewing gum industry, the Native Americans who created pemmican by mixing fruit with dried meat, and the little-known son of a slave woman who invented the sugar-processing machine still in use today.

50 Great American Places: Essential Historic Sites Across the U. S.
Saturday, April 9; 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Tuesday, April 12; 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Mall Store, Second Floor

Brent D. Glass, emeritus director of the National Museum of American History, signs copies of his book, “50 Great American Places: Essential Historic Sites Across the U. S.” This guide to 50 cultural and historic sites in the U. S. shares the inside stories of sites as old as Mesa Verde (Colorado) and Cahokia (Illinois) and as recent as Silicon Valley (California) and the Mall of America (Minnesota). Each essay in the book provides the historical context for places that represent fundamental American themes: the story of democracy and self-government; the impact of military conflict; the role of innovation and enterprise; the achievements of diverse cultural traditions; and the influence of the land and its resources.

Cherry Blossom Friends
Saturday, April 9; 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Mall Store, Second Floor

Author and illustrator Corkey Hay will sign copies of her book, “Cherry Blossom Friends,” which teaches kids about the Cherry Blossoms and all the gifts that come with the cherry trees: animals, fresh air and friendships. The book teaches not only the history of the Cherry Blossoms, but engages the kids with fun riddles about the animals that live in the Washington area and among the cherry trees. It also offers information on the monuments around the National Mall with relation to the cherry trees. 

Smithsonian Sleepovers

Smithsonian Sleepovers at American History
Saturday, April 15; 7:00 p.m.
Presidential Reception Suite, First Floor
Tickets Required: For more information, visit:   

This Smithsonian Associates program invites children ages 8 to 12 and their grown-up companions to take part in a night that features tours, games, crafts, a film and more. For more information, call (202) 633-3030. 

About the Museum

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. It helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. The museum is continuing to renovate its west exhibition wing, developing galleries on democracy, immigration and migration and culture. For more information, visit The museum is located on Constitution Avenue, between 12th and 14th streets N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.