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Smithsonian  We're not a museum. We're 19 of them and the National Zoo. Legal: http://s.si.edu/legal

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Before social media, we shared the details of our lives through snail mail. The Archives holds millions of letters that contain facts and anecdotes about the American art world, from seemingly mundane happenings to historical events.
The papers of painter Hedda Sterne contain cat-themed correspondence from Georges Mathieu, a French painter. Here, Mathieu has embellished an oversize letter with a ribbon of adorable kittens.
We’re the @archivesamerart taking over the @Smithsonian Instagram for the week to celebrate our new exhibition #BeforeInternetCats. 😻✉️ #ArchivesCats #FelineFinds #CatsofInstagram #Catsagram #cats #Cat-espondence

Here are some tiny snapshots of painter Jay DeFeo’s cat, Pooh. DeFeo was a Bay Area artist known for her monumental masterpiece “The Rose.” These photos—probably clipped from a contact sheet—were taken in her studio on Fillmore Street in San Francisco. 😼📸 More photos of Pooh will be on view in the #BeforeInternetCats exhibition organized by @archivesamerart, which opens Friday.
#ArchivesCats #FelineFinds #CatsofInstagram #Catsagram #cats #artiststudio

Photographs of artists in their studios enhance our understanding of artists’ biographies, notably their working processes. For many artists, the studio is a solitary space for reflection and work.
Cats often make ideal studio companions. They serve as sympathetic critics and elegant muses. In this photograph, Pozy the cat watches muralist Edna Reindel work in her California studio. Pozy is also the subject of the wall mural behind them. 😻🖌 Follow us at @archivesamerart for more sneak peeks at our upcoming exhibition #BeforeInternetCats.
#ArchivesCats #FelineFinds #CatsofInstagram #Catsagram #cats #artiststudio

Though Reginald Gammon was known for his evocative portraits of prominent African Americans, and not cats, in the mid-1960s he illustrated a children’s book that chronicles the friendship between a boy and a bespectacled cat. 🐱👓 Cats from the @archivesamerart are taking over the @Smithsonian Instagram this week, giving you a look at our upcoming exhibition #BeforeInternetCats.
#ArchivesCats #FelineFinds #CatsofInstagram #Catsagram #cats #storybook #creativeprocess

Thousands of sketches in the Archives of American Art offer insight into artists’ creative processes. This 1948 sketchbook of watercolor studies by muralist and children’s book illustrator Emily Barto highlights the distinct personalities of several felines. 🐈📒
We’re the @archivesamerart taking over the @Smithsonian Instagram for the week to celebrate our new exhibition #BeforeInternetCats.
#ArchivesCats #FelineFinds #CatsofInstagram #Catsagram #cats #sketchbooks #creativeprocess

Hey everyone! We’re the @archivesamerart and we’re taking over the Smithsonian Instagram account this week.
We’ve been working on a new exhibition and we’re so excited to finally let the cat out of the bag…er, box ! The exhibit, “Before Internet Cats: Feline Finds from the Archives of American Art” opens this Friday in our Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery in Washington, DC.
Long before cats clawed their way onto the internet, they made themselves at home in our collections. #BeforeInternetCats explores the myriad ways in which cats are represented in rare documents like sketches and drawings, letters, and photographs from the 19th century through the early 2000s. 🐱📦 This is a collage postcard sent from fiber artist Lenore Tawney to filmmaker Maryette Charlton. Tawney’s postcards often featured intricate layers of found media and handwritten notes. Animals, especially cats, were a frequent motif.
#BeforeInternetCats #ArchivesCats #FelineFinds #CatsofInstagram #Catsagram #Cat-espondence

Today is #EarthDay! 🌎🌍🌏 This 1980 button is in our @amhistorymuseum’s collection.

We’re sharing conservation success stories this weekend at our #EarthOptimism Summit—follow along on Facebook and Twitter to learn about how science is working to solve complex problems around the globe.

Did you know the Smithsonian helped save the American bison from extinction? In this @smithsonianarchives photo, a group of kids look at the first bison at the National Zoo in 1899. #tbt
When William Hornaday (later the first director of @smithsonianzoo) traveled to Montana in 1886 to collect specimens for an exhibition at the National Museum, he was surprised at how decimated the bison herds had become due to hunting.
To educate the public about the importance of their conservation, he created an exhibition about them in the museum and even put live bison on display behind the Castle—a precursor to the Zoo in our own backyard.
Learn about more conservation success stories this Friday through Sunday by following #EarthOptimism.
#ThrowbackThursday

The “First Lady of Song,” Ella Fitzgerald, was born 100 years ago this month. 🎶
We’re celebrating the centennial of her birth and the legendary career that followed with this portrait on view at our @smithsoniannpg.
It shows Fitzgerald performing, flanked by Ray Brown (left), Dizzy Gillespie (right) and Milt Jackson (far right). The photographer, William P. Gottlieb, learned to use a camera so that he could include images in his weekly music column for The Washington Post.
Today, his photos of jazz musicians from the 1930s and ’40s are regarded as invaluable visual records of jazz’s Golden Age.

Did you know orchids make up 10 percent of the world’s plant species? But more than half of native orchids in North America are listed as threatened or endangered in some part of their home range.
Researchers at @smithsonianenvironment are working to save the 200-plus species like this one, Galearis spectabilis, which is common in Maryland.
They’re studying the interactions between orchids and fungi—a complex, symbiotic relationship in which each of the orchids’ life stages depend to some extent on specific fungi.
Learn about our conservation efforts and successes this week as we share stories on Facebook and Twitter with #EarthOptimism.

Happy #Easter! This early 20th-century postcard is one of more than 3,000 real photo postcards in our @amhistorymuseum​'s Photographic History Collection.

Real photo postcards, made on thick photo paper with the postcard info pre-printed on the back, were popular from around 1900 to World War I.

In 1907, postal regulations changed to allow senders to put messages AND addresses on the back—before, only addresses went there. This kept the front free from writing and the image unmarked.

It's #NationalGardenMonth!
@smithsoniangardens redesigns this area in symmetrical patterns every few seasons, and we’re digging these new 🌷🌷🌷. This space behind our Castle building is called The Parterre (from the French for “on the ground”), which is a style typically associated with the Victorian era.

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