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Myron Bement Smith Collection

Creator:
Smith, Myron Bement, 1897-1970  Search this
Names:
Aga-Oglu, Mehmet, 1896-1949  Search this
Ettinghausen, Richard  Search this
Field, Henry  Search this
Herzfeld, Ernst, 1879-1948  Search this
Kuban, Dogan  Search this
Moe, Henry Allen  Search this
Pope, Arthur Upham, 1881-1969  Search this
Former owner:
Blake, Marion Elizabeth  Search this
Extent:
192 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Date:
circa 1910-1970
Summary:
The Myron Bement Smith collection consists of two parts, the papers of Myron Bement Smith and his wife Katharine and the Islamic Archives. It contains substantial material about his field research in Italy in the 1920s and his years working on Islamic architecture in Iran in the 1930s. Letters describe the milieu in which he operated in Rochester NY and New York City in the 1920s and early 1930s; the Smiths' life in Iran from 1933 to 1937; and the extensive network of academic and social contacts that Myron and Katharine developed and maintained over his lifetime. The Islamic Archives was a project to which Smith devoted most of his professional life. It includes both original materials, such as his photographs and notes, and items acquired by him from other scholars or experts on Islamic art and architecture. Smith intended the Archives to serve as a resource for scholars interested in the architecture and art of the entire Islamic world although he also included some materials about non-Islamic architecture.
Scope and Contents:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection consists of two parts, the papers of Myron Bement Smith and his wife Katharine and the Islamic Archives. The papers include some biographic material about Myron but little about his wife. Information on his academic and professional experience is sketchy and his diaries and appointment books often contain only sporadic entries. The papers contain substantial material about his field research in Italy in the 1920s and his years working on Islamic architecture in Iran in the 1930s. Correspondence comprises the largest and most potentially useful part of the papers. Letters describe the milieu in which he operated in Rochester, NY and New York City in the 1920s and early 1930s; the Smiths' life in Iran from 1933 to 1937; and the extensive network of academic and social contacts that Myron and Katharine developed and maintained over his lifetime.

The Islamic Archives, formally entitled The Archive for Islamic Culture and Art, was a project to which Smith devoted most of his professional life. It includes both original materials, such as his photographs and notes, and items acquired by him from other scholars or experts on Islamic art and architecture. Most of the latter consists of photographs and slides. Smith intended the Archives to serve as a resource for scholars interested in the architecture and art of the entire Islamic world although he also included some materials about non-Islamic architecture. The core collection of the Archives consists of Smith's original photographs and architectural sketches of Iranian Islamic monuments made during his field research in the 1930s. He meticulously photographed the interior and exterior of monuments, including their decorative detail. Some of the photographic materials subsequently loaned, purchased, or donated to the Archives may enable scholars to document sites over time but in many cases the materials are poorly preserved or reproduced. A notable exception to this is the glassplate negatives and prints of 19th century Iranian photographer Antoin Sevruguin.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into 2 major series with further subseries. A third series inventories the outsized and miscellaneous materials.

Series 1: Papers

Subseries 1.1: Biographic Materials

Subseries 1.2: Professional Experience

Subseries 1.3: Notebooks, Journals and Appointment Books

Subseries 1.4: Correspondence

Subseries 1.5: Published and Unpublished Materials

Subseries 1.6: Italy Research 1925, 1927-1928

Subseries 1.7: Iran Research 1933-1937

Subseries 1.8: Katharine Dennis Smith Papers and Correspondence

Series 2: The Islamic Archives

Subseries 2.1: Islamic Archives History, Collection Information

Subseries 2.2: Resource Materials Iran

Subseries 2.3: Resource Materials Other Islamic World and General

Subseries 2.4: Myron Bement Smith Architectural Sketches, Plans and Notes, Iran, 1933-1937

Subseries 2.5: Myron Bement Smith Iran Photographs, Notebooks and Negative Registers

Subseries 2.6: Country Photograph File

Subseries 2.7: Lantern Slide Collection

Subseries 2.8: Myron Bement Smith 35 mm Color Slides

Subseries 2.9: Country 35 mm Color Slide File

Subseries 2.10: Myron Bement Smith Negatives

Subseries 2.11: Country Photograph Negatives

Subseries 2.12: Antoin Sevruguin Photographs

Series 3: Outsize and Miscellaneous Items

Subseries 3.1: Map Case Drawers

Subseries 3.2: Rolled Items

Subseries 3.3 Items in Freezer

Subseries 3.4 Smithsonian Copy Negatives
Biographical Note:
Myron Bement Smith was born in Newark Valley, New York in 1897 and grew up in Rochester, New York. He died in Washington D.C. in 1970. He showed an early interest in drawing, and after graduation from high school, he worked as a draftsman for a Rochester architect. He served in the US Army Medical Corps in France during World War I and on return again worked as an architectural draftsman. He studied at Yale University from 1922 to 1926, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. During summer vacations, he worked as draftsman or designer for architectural firms in New York City. After graduation, he received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation grant and spent two years in Italy doing research on northern Italian brick and stone work. He used photography as an tool for his research and published several well-illustrated articles. On return he joined an architectural firm in Philadelphia and in 1931 became a registered architect in New York. He enrolled in Harvard University graduate school in 1929 pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree.

In April 1930, Smith was appointed Secretary of the newly created American Institute for Persian Art and Archaeology founded by Arthur Upham Pope and located in New York City. He had no prior academic or work experience in Islamic art or architecture, and his job entailed designing publications, arranging lectures, organizing exhibitions and fund raising. That summer he arranged an independent study course at Harvard University on Persian art and subsequently studied Persian language at Columbia University and attended graduate courses at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. His work and academic credentials enabled him to compete successfully for a research fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies in 1933 to study Iranian Islamic architecture.

Accompanied by his new bride Katharine Dennis, Smith left for Iran in 1933. They suffered a horrendous motor vehicle accident in Iraq en route and required a lengthy recuperation in Lebanon and Cyprus. The Smiths eventually arrived in Isfahan, Iran, where they established their "Expedition House," as Smith called it, in a rented faculty house at Stuart College. Smith's research consisted of meticulous photographic documentation of Islamic monuments and architectural sketches and drawings of many of them. He concentrated on the Isfahan area but also documented monuments elsewhere in Iran. Smith outfitted his station wagon as a combination camper and research vehicle in which he and his staff traveled widely. Katharine sometimes traveled with him but generally she remained in Isfahan managing the household and logistics for the "expedition." The Smiths left Iran in 1937.

Smith published several articles about Iran's Islamic monuments based on his field research and in 1947 completed his PhD thesis for The Johns Hopkins University on the vault in Persian architecture. His professional career from 1938 until his death in 1970 consisted of a series of temporary academic positions, contract work and government or academic sponsored lecture tours and photographic exhibits. He had a long lasting relationship with the Library of Congress where he served as an Honorary Consultant from 1938 to 1940 and again from 1948 to 1970; from 1943 to 1944 he was Chief of the Iranian Section at the Library. Despite his lack of published material, Smith was well-known among academic, government and private citizens who worked, traveled or were otherwise interested Iran and the Islamic world.

Smith developed an extensive network of professional and social contacts that dated from his early student days and increased markedly during his time at the Persian Institute and later in Iran. He kept in touch with them and they touted him to others who were interested in Iran or Islamic art and architecture. This network served him well in realizing his ambition of creating a resource for scholars that relied on photographs to document Islamic architecture. The Islamic Archives began with his own collection of photographs from his Iran research and grew to include all manner of photographic and other materials not only on the Islamic world but also other areas. Creating and managing the Archives became the main focus of Smith's professional life and career. In 1967 he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to revise his PhD thesis as a publishable manuscript but died before he could complete it.
Related Materials:
The Antoin Sevruguin Photgraphs

Ernst Herzfeld Papers

Lionel B. Bier Drawings

Lionel D. Bier and Carol Bier Photographs
Provenance:
Gift of Katherine Dennis Smith, transfered from National Anthropological Archives.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository.
Topic:
Islamic architecture  Search this
Islamic Architecture-Turkey  Search this
Iran-description and travel  Search this
Iran-History 20th Century  Search this
Islamic Architecture-Middle East  Search this
Iran-social life and customs  Search this
United States-Social life and customs  Search this
Mosques  Search this
Architecture -- Iran  Search this
Citation:
The Myron Bement Smith Collection. FSA.A.04. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Gift of Katherine Dennis Smith.
Identifier:
FSA.A.04
See more items in:
Myron Bement Smith Collection
Archival Repository:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/dc3c8c950fe-250b-40df-b8c7-bcf788073968
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-fsa-a-04
Online Media:

Museum of the American Indian/Heye Foundation records

Creator:
Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation  Search this
Director:
Heye, George G. (George Gustav), 1874-1957  Search this
Dockstader, Frederick J.  Search this
Names:
Ford-Bartlett East Greenland Expedition 1930  Search this
Harriman Alaska Expedition (1899)  Search this
Hendricks-Hodge Expedition (1917-1923).  Search this
Huntington Free Library  Search this
Hyde Exploring Expedition (1902-1903)  Search this
Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation  Search this
Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research  Search this
Collector:
Barrett, S. A. (Samuel Alfred), 1879-1965  Search this
Churchill, Clara G.  Search this
Churchill, Frank C. (Frank Carroll), 1850-1912  Search this
Davis, Edward H., b. 1862  Search this
Emmons, George Thornton  Search this
Gridley, Marion E. (Marion Eleanor), 1906-1974  Search this
Harrington, M. R. (Mark Raymond), 1882-1971  Search this
Harvey, Byron  Search this
Harvey, Fred  Search this
Hodge, Frederick Webb, 1864-1956  Search this
Johnson, Frederick, 1904-1994  Search this
Keppler, Udo J., 1872-1956  Search this
Lothrop, S. K. (Samuel Kirkland), 1892-1965  Search this
Pepper, George H. (George Hubbard), 1873-1924  Search this
Skinner, Alanson, 1886-1925  Search this
Speck, Frank G. (Frank Gouldsmith), 1881-1950  Search this
Stiles, William F., 1912-1980  Search this
Verrill, A. Hyatt (Alpheus Hyatt), 1871-1954  Search this
Waterman, T. T. (Thomas Talbot), 1885-1936  Search this
Wildschut, William  Search this
Former owner:
Burnett, Edwin K.  Search this
Force, Roland W.  Search this
Extent:
400 Linear feet
Culture:
Indians of North America  Search this
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Administrative records
Photographs
Annual reports
Field notes
Correspondence
Ledgers (account books)
Minutes
Date:
1890-1998
Summary:
These records document the governance and programmatic activities of the Museum of the American Indian/Heye Foundation (MAI) from its inception in 1904 until its sublimation by the Smithsonian Institution in 1990. The types of materials present in this collection include personal and institutional correspondence, individual subject files, minutes and annual reports, financial ledgers, legal records, expedition field notes, research notes, catalog and object lists, publications, clippings, flyers, maps, photographs, negatives and audio-visual materials. These materials span a varied range of subjects relating to the activities of the museum which are more fully described on the series level.
Scope and Contents:
These records document the governance and programmatic activities of the Museum of the American Indian/Heye Foundation (MAI) from its inception in 1904 until its sublimation by the Smithsonian Institution in 1990. The types of materials present in this collection include personal and institutional correspondence, individual subject files, minutes and annual reports, financial ledgers, legal records, expedition field notes, research notes, catalog and object lists, publications, clippings, flyers, maps, photographs, negatives and audio-visual materials. These materials span a varied range of subjects relating to the activities of the museum which are more fully described on the series level.
Arrangement:
The MAI, Heye Foundation records have been arranged into 21 series and 50 subseries: Series 1: Directors, 1908-1990 (1.1: George Gustav Heye, 1863-1962, 1.2: Edwin K. Burnett, 1943-1960, 1.3: Frederick Dockstader, 1950-1976, 1.4: Alexander F. Draper, 1972-1977, 1.5:Roland W. Force, 1963-1990, 1.6: George Eager, Assistant Director, 1977-1990) Series 2: Board of Trustees, 1916-1990 (2.1: Board of Trustee Minutes, 1916-1990, 2.2: Individual Board Correspondence, 1943-1990, 2.3: Subject Files, 1917-1990) Series 3: Administrative, 1916-1989 (3.1: Subject Files, 1904-1991, 3.2: Personnel, 1956-1991, 3.3: Legal, 1900-1989, 3.4: Task Force, 1976-1986, 3.5: George Abrams, 1980-1991) Series 4: Financial, 1916-1990 (4.1: Ledgers, 1900-1962, 4.2: Correspondence, 1905-1985, 4.3: Subject Files, 1916-1990) Series 5: Expeditions, 1896-1973Series 6: Collectors, 1872-1981Series 7: Registration, 1856-1993Series 8: Collections Management, 1937-1988Series 9: Curatorial, 1963-1990 (9.1: Curatorial Council, 1973-1990, 9.2: Gary Galante, 1979-1991, 9.3: Mary Jane Lenz, 1974-1994, 9.4: James G. E. Smith, 1963-1990, 9.5: U. Vincent Wilcox, 1968-1984, 9.6: Anna C. Roosevelt, 1973-1988) Series 10: Exhibits, 1923-1991 (10.1: MAI Exhibits, 1923-1990, 10.2: Non-MAI Exhibits, 1937-1991) Series 11: Public Programs, 1935-1990Series 12: Publications, 1904-1994 (12.1: Annual Reports, 1917-1989, 12.2: Publications by MAI, 1904-1990, 12.3: Publications by Other Sources, 1881-1990, 12.4: Administration, 1920-1988, 12.5: Archival Set of Official Publications, 1907-1976) Series 13: Public Affairs, 1938-1991Series 14: Development, 1927-1991 (14.1: Administration, 1979-1990, 14.2: Donors, 1978-1990, 14.3: Fundraising, 1973-1990, 14.4: Grants, 1970-1990, 14.5: Subject Files, 1976-1990) Series 15: Other Departments, 1914-1990 (15.1: Archives, 1914-1990, 15.2: Conservation, 1972-1989, 15.3: Education, 1921-1990, 15.4: Indian Information Center, 1977-1989, 15.5: Museum Shop, 1947-1989, 15.6: Photography, 1918-1990, 15.7: Physical Anthropology, 1919-1956) Series 16: Huntington Free Library, 1926-1991Series 17: Museum Relocation, 1969-1992 (17.1: Subject Files, 1979-1990, 17.2: American Museum of Natural History, 1980-1987, 17.3: Dallas, Texas, 1984-1987, 17.4: Smithsonian Institution, 1979-1990, 17.5: U.S. Custom House, 1977-1990, 17.6: Other Locations, 1974-1987) Series 18: MediaSeries 19: PhotographsSeries 20: Miscellaneous, 1837-1990Series 21: Oversize, 1873-1972 (21.1: Maps, 1873-1975, 21.2: Miscellaneous, 1884-1982)
History of the Museum of the American Indian/Heye Foundation:
The Museum of the American Indian/Heye Foundation was established by wealthy collector George Gustav Heye in 1908. Heye began collecting American Indian artifacts as early as 1897 and his collection rapidly increased over the next several years. Based in New York, Heye bought collections and documentary photographs, sponsored expeditions, and traveled and collected items himself. In addition, once MAI was established he sponsored numerous expeditions across the Western Hemisphere, including North American, Canada, South America and Central America.

From 1908 to 1917 Heye housed his artifacts on temporary loan at the University of Pennsylvania's University Museum, Pennsylvania, in lofts on East 33rd Street in New York City, and at other depositories. In 1917, the collections moved from his apartment to their permanent museum location at Audubon Terrace, at 155th Street and Broadway in New York City. The museum, containing ethnographic and archaeological collections from North, Central and South America, opened to the public in 1922. Less than ten years later, Heye completed a storage facility in the Pelham Bay area of the Bronx, known as the Research Branch. Heye served as Chairman of the Board and Museum Director until his death in 1957. After growing concern about the financial and other management of the collections came to a head, the museum became part of the Smithsonian Institution in 1989 and in 1994 opened exhibit space in the U.S. Customs House at Bowling Green near New York City's Battery Park. The Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Maryland later opened in 1999 and the main Washington, DC museum opened in 2004.

Please visit the following links for more information about the history of the museum; History of the Collection, Collections Overview, and Significance of the Collection. Moreover, for information about how the museum currently cares for and exhibits the collection, please see the Conservation department and recent entries regarding Exhibitions and Conservation on the NMAI Blog. In addition, see portions of the NMAI Archive Center's collections highlighted in the SIRIS Blog.
Related Materials:
In 2004, the Huntington Fee Library, once part of the MAI/Heye Foundation, was transferred to the Cornell University Library Rare Book and Manuscript Collection. While this collection mainly contained books, it also contained a significant amount of archival materials. The Huntington Free Library's Native American Collection contains outstanding materials documenting the history, culture, languages, and arts of the native tribes of both North and South America, as well as contemporary politics and human rights issues are also important components of the collection. Further information about the collection and links to finding aids can be found here: rmc.library.cornell.edu/collections/HFL_old.html.
Restrictions:
Access to NMAI Archive Center collections is by appointment only, Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Please contact the archives to make an appointment (phone: 301-238-1400, email: nmaiarchives@si.edu).
Rights:
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish or broadcast materials from the collection must be requested from the National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center. Please submit a written request to nmaiarchives@si.edu.
Topic:
Excavations (Archaeology) -- Peru  Search this
Excavations (Archaeology) -- Tennessee  Search this
Excavations (Archaeology) -- New York (State)  Search this
Excavations (Archaeology) -- Panama  Search this
Excavations (Archaeology) -- New Jersey  Search this
Excavations (Archaeology) -- New Mexico  Search this
Excavations (Archaeology) -- Missouri  Search this
Excavations (Archaeology) -- Nevada  Search this
Excavations (Archaeology) -- California  Search this
Indians of South America  Search this
Indians of Central America  Search this
Pre-Columbian objects  Search this
Museum exhibits  Search this
Excavations (Archaeology) -- Texas  Search this
Museums -- Collection management  Search this
Archaeological expeditions  Search this
Ethnological expeditions  Search this
Excavations (Archaeology)  Search this
Museums -- Acquisitions  Search this
Museums -- Curatorship  Search this
Excavations (Archaeology) -- Cuba  Search this
Excavations (Archaeology) -- Ecuador  Search this
Excavations (Archaeology) -- Arkansas  Search this
Excavations (Archaeology) -- Canada  Search this
Excavations (Archaeology) -- Guatemala  Search this
Excavations (Archaeology) -- Haiti  Search this
Genre/Form:
Administrative records
Photographs
Annual reports
Field notes
Correspondence
Ledgers (account books)
Minutes
Citation:
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Museum of the American Indian/Heye Foundation Records, Box and Folder Number; National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
NMAI.AC.001
See more items in:
Museum of the American Indian/Heye Foundation records
Archival Repository:
National Museum of the American Indian
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/sv412df8cf1-44c0-41fd-9101-eefb477e5aef
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmai-ac-001
Online Media:

Sharing St. Lawrence Island Yupik Language and Culture

Creator:
National Museum of Natural History  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2015-03-26T14:26:27.000Z
YouTube Category:
Education  Search this
Topic:
Natural History  Search this
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National Museum of Natural History
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EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:yt_-rq1Vq4iX14

Narrated Virtual Tour: David H. Koch Hall of Fossils – Deep Time Exhibit – Dinosaurs in Detail

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National Museum of Natural History  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2021-11-23T16:58:52.000Z
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Education  Search this
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National Museum of Natural History
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Masons of Djenné --Changing Times

Creator:
National Museum of Natural History  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2013-08-23T15:30:46.000Z
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Education  Search this
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Natural History  Search this
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National Museum of Natural History
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Preview of "The Last American Dinosaurs: Discovering a Lost World"

Creator:
National Museum of Natural History  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2014-11-10T21:52:10.000Z
YouTube Category:
Film & Animation  Search this
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National Museum of Natural History
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EDAN-URL:
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The David H. Koch Hall of Fossils — Deep Time

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National Museum of Natural History  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2018-07-17T14:37:18.000Z
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Sharing the Iñupiaq Language

Creator:
National Museum of Natural History  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2011-11-01T21:48:01.000Z
YouTube Category:
Education  Search this
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Natural History  Search this
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Flesh Eating Beetles at the Smithsonian's Osteology Laboratory

Creator:
National Museum of Natural History  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2009-06-02T15:03:02.000Z
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Science & Technology  Search this
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Natural History  Search this
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National Museum of Natural History
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"Living Our Cultures" in Alaska

Creator:
National Museum of Natural History  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2011-07-13T17:53:22.000Z
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Education  Search this
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Natural History  Search this
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National Museum of Natural History
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edanmdm:yt_7fQIaFROzVU

Sant Ocean Hall Virtual Tour for Students | National Museum of Natural History

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National Museum of Natural History  Search this
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YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2022-06-06T20:32:30.000Z
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Education  Search this
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Life in One Cubic Foot - exploring biodiversity with biocubes

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National Museum of Natural History  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
Uploaded:
2016-03-02T16:26:06.000Z
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Education  Search this
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Narrated Virtual Tour: North Atlantic Right Whale in the Sant Ocean Hall

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National Museum of Natural History  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
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2021-07-09T16:53:16.000Z
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National Museum of Natural History
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St. Lawrence Island Yupik Traditions: Sanightaaq (Ceremonial Gut Parka)

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National Museum of Natural History  Search this
Type:
YouTube Videos
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2012-06-20T20:34:37.000Z
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National Museum of Natural History
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Local Inspiration: Alaska Native Artists Study the Collections

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National Museum of Natural History  Search this
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YouTube Videos
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2015-03-26T14:08:42.000Z
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Education  Search this
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National Museum of Natural History
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Human Origins: Gurche Reconstructions of Early Humans

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National Museum of Natural History  Search this
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2011-02-23T16:14:35.000Z
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National Museum of Natural History
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Narrated Virtual Tour: Indo-Pacific Coral Reef in the Sant Ocean Hall

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2021-07-09T16:52:00.000Z
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National Museum of Natural History
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Disease Vectors of the U.S.A. pt. 1: Mosquitoes and the Diseases They Carry

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National Museum of Natural History  Search this
Type:
Lectures
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2021-01-22T16:08:19.000Z
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Narrated Virtual Tour: David H. Koch Hall of Fossils – Deep Time Exhibit – Mass Extinction Events

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2021-11-23T16:59:27.000Z
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Narrated Virtual Tour: David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins – Past Species

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2021-07-19T16:30:42.000Z
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