Smithsonian Unveils Newest Museum

The Smithsonian’s 19th and newest museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, opens to the public this weekend in Washington, DC. Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton says its creation has been in the works since 1915 when American Civil War veterans wanted a tribute on the National Mall recognizing the African American influence. In 1929 President Coolidge assigned a commission to study building a museum. But plans didn’t take off until 2003 when Congress approved it.

Skorton told an audience at the Aspen Ideas Festival in July that there’s debate in museum circles about whether to develop separate museums for different demographics, “or should we view everything as American and try to develop a large melting pot?” He thinks both suggestions are salient. “It’s important to have a holistic view of American History at a museum, but it’s also important to focus on certain aspects of the American story,” he says.

Taxpayers funded about half of the new $540 million museum that’s located on the National Mall. It’s the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. Some of its 36,000 artifacts include a slave cabin from the 1800s, the tennis racket used by Althea Gibson, and dresses worn by the pop group En Vogue.


Finding Meaning in Work

What is the secret to achieving happiness because of our work and not in spite of it? How can we make a job into a vocation? David Brooks and Arthur Brooks have studied and written about these questions. In this episode of Aspen Ideas to Go, they discuss the elements of meaningful work and ways to achieve it. Subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.



Prison Program Honored

A program highlighted at Aspen Ideas 2016 has won the National Humanities Medal. Prison University Project Director Jody Lewen spoke about prison reform at the Festival. Her program provides people incarcerated at California’s San Quentin State Prison a chance to earn a college degree. President Obama awarded the Medal at the White House this week.


Memorable Words

“Women should just shut up and live their own lives and not tell anybody else how to do it, because everybody’s experience is different, whether you lean in or lean out, that’s the most personal decision. We have to respect each other’s choices because there are no wrong choices in this enterprise.” — Susan Rice, 2016 Aspen Ideas