Celebrate Cellphones, Birds and Old Jazz Favorites at the National Museum of Natural History this May and June

Kick off your summer with events spotlighting creatures that soar through the sky and swim through the ocean

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The museum’s exhibition “Cellphone: Unseen Connections” opened in 2023 and features several giant smartphone screens that visitors can interact with and even pose with different emojis. Phillip R. Lee and James Di Loreto, Smithsonian Institution

Summer is just around the corner, and the National Museum of Natural History has a suite of events lined up to welcome the new season and learn more about the natural world. From learning how the museum creates new exhibitions to testing your skills in a bird-themed board game, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the museum over the next two months.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the museum’s newest exhibit 
May 8, 3:30 P.M. ET

Josh Bell, the museum’s Curator of Globalization, gives a tour of the exhibition “Cellphone: Unseen Connections.” Phillip R. Lee, Smithsonian Institution

Have you ever stopped to consider how different your life would be without your cell phone? What started as a clunky, cordless phone that couldn’t fit in the deepest of pockets has evolved into a sleek, computer-like device that goes light years beyond simply making calls. The museum’s newest exhibit, “Cellphone: Unseen Connections,” explores our relationship with these ubiquitous pieces of technology that have changed the way we communicate.

Join exhibition curator Josh Bell and other museum contributors for an inside perspective on the making and development of the groundbreaking exhibition. The event will include light refreshments and a discussion with Bell and other exhibition collaborators in the museum’s Ocean Terrace Cafe before a walkthrough of the exhibition itself. The event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required.

Play science board games with bird enthusiasts
May 15, 6:30 p.m. ET

Learn how to play the popular bird board game Wingspan with the game’s designer.

Join game designer Elizabeth Hargrave and ornithologist Scott Edwards to learn about Hargrave’s popular, bird-themed board game Wingspan. The game encourages players to build habitats to attract different bird species to level up and earn points, all while learning about biodiversity and birds.

Hargrave and Edwards will participate in a panel moderated by Sant Director Kirk Johnson, and attendees will have the opportunity to play the game after the discussion. The event is free, but prior registration is encouraged and can be found here.

Celebrate Black Birders Week with birdwatching and bird activities
June 1, all day

Participate in a guided bird walk and much more during this year’s Black Birders Week festivities at the Smithsonian. Rob Stewart, Smithsonian Institution

Join NMNH, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) and the National Zoo as we celebrate the fourth annual Black Birders Week on June 1. The week-long recognition began in 2020 as a way to honor Black birders and recognize the challenges that still exist today for Black individuals in outdoor recreation and natural science. Activities on June 1st  will include a guided bird walk, bird science demonstrations and more at NMAAHC.

The bird walk is from 8-10 a.m. and will be capped at 25 participants. Registration for the bird walk will open on May 20. The rest of the programming will begin at 11 a.m., and registration for this event will open on May 1.

Join the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra to honor Sarah Vaughan
June 1, 7:00 p.m. ET

Jazz enthusiasts recognize Sara Vaughan by the nicknames “Sassy” and “The Divine One,” inspired by her impressive range and dynamic performances that earned her two Grammy Awards. The final Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra performance of the season will honor this iconic jazz vocalist and musician featuring singer Sharón Clark.

Tickets are $25 for members and $30 for non-members and can be purchased here.

Learn about the ocean from museum scientists for World Ocean Day
June 7, all day

Visit the museum’s Sant Ocean Hall to celebrate World Ocean Day. Smithsonian Institution

This World Ocean Day, spend the day in the museum’s Sant Ocean Hall celebrating all manner of oceanic creatures with programs fit for the whole family. From hands-on play activities for little ones to stunning, interactive visualizations explained by NOAA scientists, there is something for everyone looking to learn more about our blue planet.

The day will kick off at 10 a.m. with the Play Date event for families, and will continue until 4 p.m. with conservation stations, talks from ocean experts, and discussions for those interested in ocean careers. No prior registration required.

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