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The Object at Hand: Intriguing and Inspiring Stories from the Smithsonian Collections/Virtual Author Event with Beth Py-Lieberman

Thursday, October 19, 2023 at 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

From Dorothy’s ruby slippers to a speech that saved Teddy Roosevelt from assassination, this authoritative guide delivers in-depth reportage on the history of remarkable objects from the Smithsonian’s collections. For American history, pop culture, and museum enthusiasts. With charm and exuberance, The Object at Hand presents a behind-the-scenes vantage point of the Smithsonian collections. Veteran Smithsonian magazine editor Beth Py-Lieberman weaves together adaptations of the magazine’s extensive and compelling coverage and interviews with scholars, curators, and historians to take readers on an unforgettable journey through the Smithsonian museums.

Objects are grouped into the themes audacity, utopia, fierce, haunting, deception, lost, desire, triumph, scale, optimism, playful, rhythm, and revealing to engage with the emotional dimensions of each object, how they relate to each other, and how they fit into the larger American story. A sampling includes:

The Star-Spangled Banner
Frida Kahlo’s love letter to Diego Rivera
Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega 5B
Nat Turner’s Bible
An AIDS quilt panel honoring Roger Gail Lyon
A signpost from the Standing Rock protest
A glass-plate portrait of Abraham Lincoln
Life-sized model of a Megalodon
The Hope Diamond
Chuck Berry’s Cadillac
Portrait of Henrietta Lacks

Beth Py-Lieberman reflects on the profound connections between even outwardly dissimilar objects, and offers insight and stories from Smithsonian experts. The book explores artworks, scientific specimens, historical artifacts, airplanes, spacecraft, plants, and so much more, contemplating how each item represents different facets of humanity and resonates with cultural meaning in surprising ways. Whimsical, affecting, and insightful, The Object at Hand offers an intimate and exclusive tour of the Smithsonian collections.

Author Bio: Beth Py-Lieberman is Senior Museums Editor at the award-winning Smithsonian magazine, where as a thirty-six year veteran, she has frequented the halls and galleries of the Smithsonian museums, educating readers on its history, art and science collections and exhibitions. Py-Lieberman is also the editor of the “At the Smithsonian” section of Smithsonian magazine. Founded in 1970, Smithsonian magazine entertains a national audience with its stellar photography and storytelling, as part of the Smithsonian Institution’s mission to “increase and diffuse knowledge.” The magazine’s print and digital audiences number more than 120 million, curious minds looking to better understand the world and its history, science, arts and culture.

Please register; Zoom links will be sent out before the event.

Co-sponsored by the Avon Library & Avon Historical Society


Thursday, October 19, 2023
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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