He may not have broken the Internet (yet), but Secretary David Skorton made a lot of new friends for the Smithsonian when he shared his day on Instagram.
The Smithsonian is one of our oldest national institutions—respected, authoritative, comprehensive—and dare we say, just the tiniest bit stodgy? We know that visitors often find our sheer size intimidating and many don’t really understand all the ways we encompass the world’s largest museum, education and research organization.
Secretary David Skorton may have an office in a Castle, but he certainly doesn’t live in an ivory tower. He recently shared a typical day on the Instagram site We The People DC, created to show our nation’s Capital from the perspective of its people. His goal was to humanize the Smithsonian by showing it through the eyes of the man who runs it, highlight some important things people might not realize we do, and also to demonstrate to the millennials of D.C., who have helped create a vibrant arts and culture scene here, that the Smithsonian is deeply committed to the important role of the arts and humanities in society as a whole and in the local community.
Lucky to have a great view when I arrive to work. Exciting things are in store for our Arts and Industries building (the red brick one) after being closed for a decade. So stay tuned! Later today I’m heading to @hirshhorn (the concrete doughnut shaped building) to check out the #ragnarkjartansson show
Just spoke on a panel at the @kennedycenter to the heads of international performance arts centers. We talked about the importance of working together to reach out to our local communities to make our resources more available. (I love that @kennedycenter offers free concerts every day.) The more DC cultural organizations can band together to do this, the more we emphasize the importance of the arts and humanities to elected officials and inspire the public to do the same. Pictured with me: Deborah Rutter, president of @kennedycenter, David Rubenstein, @kennedycenter board chairman and @smithsonian Regent and David Mao, deputy librarian of Congress
Visiting Ragnar Kjartasson’s first major retrospective at the @hirshhorn. This is the “End-Venezia”. Kjartasson spent 6 months painting a new portrait of his friend every day. Very striking and at times humorous. The wall text by the curator helped me go deeper into understanding. Definitely check it out. I like to go to our museums as often as I can to see what our visitors are seeing and be inspired by our curators. #ragnarkjartansson
Weaver birds from Ethiopia in the collection at @smithsoniannmnh. Data from their handwritten specimen tags are being entered into the collection database. This is important data that can let researchers know which animals existed in certain areas at a certain time. Right now we have scientists looking at the data from our mosquito collection in order to learn more about Zika. I’m a cardiologist by training and love that the @Smithsonian collections can contribute to animal and public health
Carla Dove is the head of @smithsoniannmnh’s Feather ID Lab. Whenever birds hit aircraft, known as a bird strike, the remnants come here where Carla and her team ID the birds. That information helps engineers build safer planes and airports design better methods of keeping birds away. She’s holding a bag of “snarge” the technical term for the bird remains from the strike. The museum started collecting birds way before human flight, so you never know how collections might be used in the future. These specimens are now helping you stay safe when you fly.
At the end of the day, when the staff has left, I like to unwind playing my flute. I used to leave my shades up until a small group thought I was a museum exhibition. Now I keep them closed. Thanks for following my day – it’s been fun to share it with all of you. I welcome you to follow the @Smithsonian Instagram account, where I occasionally make an appearance.
Posted: 28 October 2016