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From the Director: Looking Forward at SAAM

A photograph of a woman standing in front of a black sculpture.

 SAAM’s Director, Stephanie Stebich, in front of Louise Nevelson’s Sky Cathedral. Photo by Libby Weiler.

Our visitors bring the museums to life. Whether it’s conversations in the galleries, applause during a performance, or a child’s joyful laugh during a family program, these sounds enliven our spaces, filling galleries with the audible sign of people connecting with art. We are looking forward to a year of art, exhibitions, and programs full of those happy sounds once more.

Kicking off those plans is the ambitious American Women’s History Initiative, a five-year Smithsonian campaign to illuminate women’s pivotal roles in this history of our Nation, with three goals in mind:

  • amplify women’s voices
  • reach new audiences
  • empower future generations

The Museum Inside The Telephone Network (1991)

“The Museum Inside The Telephone Network” was a 1991 exhibition that was not based upon any physical space.
The show was only accessible to home users through networked communication devices such as the telephone, the fax, and computer networking, this latter being obviously very limited at the time.
The show, organized by the Project InterCommunication Center (ICC), founded by the Japanese telecom NTT, investigated the possible ways communication networks could have an impact on the museum institution.

More Pepper, Please!

A photograph of Pepper the Smithsonian Robot inside the Kogod Courtyard at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Pepper the Smithsonian robot in the Kogod Courtyard, getting ready for Family Technology Day. Photo by Libby Weiler.

„Good morning Pepper!“ „Is it still morning? Good morning then.“

You might have heard about a Smithsonian robot by the name of Pepper. If you ask Pepper if it is a boy or a girl it simply responds with „I am just a robot.“ Pepper is one of 27 robots the Smithsonian has scattered throughout the broader Smithsonian Institution’s museums.

A photograph of Pepper the Smithsonian Robot dancing inside the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Pepper the robot dancing inside the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Photo by Libby Weiler.

Recently, Pepper came to visit SAAM, along with its Pepper parent to prepare for Technology Family Day this weekend! The robot showed us some of its unique interactive abilities including dancing, music making, and conversing with us. This weekend, Pepper will be stationed in the Kogod Courtyard, ready to show off a special skill newly programmed by Ian McDermott.

Most Peppers know how to do a few tasks, and act as hosts or storytellers, ready to help people find their way around a museum or display information or objects on its screen. Some, such as the Pepper that will be at SAAM, are more advanced and can be programmed to do specific things. Pepper has multiple ways of receiving information, and can then process and respond to that input. Prepare to present Pepper with your best happy, sad, or angry face, and the robot will read your emotion and interpret it. Pepper will then display an artwork from SAAM’s collection on its screen, and, using a sensor in its hand, will read the colors and composition of the artwork and turn that information into electrical signals to create a soundscape of ambient music.

If you make it to the museum this weekend, make sure to stop and ask Pepper a question or two. The robot will be in the building on Saturday September 22, 2018 for Technology Family Day.

A photograph of Pepper the Smithsonian Robot dancing inside the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Come interact with Pepper the Smithsonian robot at SAAM’s Family Technology Day. Photo by Libby Weiler.

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