If you could put 10 things from 2013 in the Smithsonian, what would they be?
NASA’s Curiosity took this “selfie” on Mars in February. If he had his way, the Smithsonian’s undersecretary for history, art and culture Richard Kurin would have a spot for the rover at the museum. Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
When Richard Kurin’s hefty book “The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 objects” landed on my desk this year, it made me wonder: What artifacts from 2013 would we want to keep as tangible fragments of history? My first thought was that this year may have less important — for lack of a better word — “stuff” than in the past. Hadn’t we moved our culture to a place where our apps and tweets were more important than items people made by hand? Not just yet says Kurin, an undersecretary at the Smithsonian Institute. And so he used his knowledge from overseeing history and art collections at the museum to prove me wrong and come up with this list of items he would collect from 2013.
Mars Curiosity rover: As the unmanned vehicle explored the surface of the red planet, it transmitted convincing signs that water may have existed there — making life possible.
Prosthetic for an Army veteran wounded in Iraq: Now drawing down, one legacy of the long U.S. military presence in Iraq is the medical technology that has provided artificial limbs and organs to our veterans so they can have a better quality of life than heretofore expected.
Gay marriage certificate: With 17 states and Washington, D.C., officially recognizing same-sex marriage, a certificate documents what could be a watershed moment in civil rights."margin:10px 0;">Same-sex couple Sue Rochman, center, and Robin Romdalvik with their son Maddox Rochman-Romdalvik celebrate upon hearing the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on gay marriage in June. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
HealthCare.gov website and code: Snafus with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act website ensnarled millions of Americans and the President in questions about the viability of the government health insurance program. It may even have consequences for the balance of power in the 2014 election and beyond. The Smithsonian began collecting code this year to preserve what Americans of today see online.
The olinguito was the first carnivore species to be discovered in the American continents in 35 years. Photo by Smithsonian
Olinguito, a new mammal species: A member of the raccoon family, this mammalian species native to Columbia and Ecuador was newly identified as a result of DNA analysis. The creature provides a new window into the formation of new species.
Chelyabinsk meteor: The most dramatic collision of a meteor with the Earth in more than a century was closely witnessed in Russia in February. Video of the meteor was recorded and disseminated almost instantaneously around the world.
Manuscript saved from destruction in Timbuktu, Mali: Islamic militants destroyed some of the cultural heritage documenting the diversity of western African medieval life and languages, but guardians and supporters managed to rescue most of the historical manuscripts.
Ai Weiwei’s “Snake Ceiling” backpack sculpture: Though created by the Chinese dissident artist several years ago to mark the fatal collapse of shoddily constructed schools, it was loaned and shown for the first time in the nation’s capital to overflowing crowds at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden."margin:10px 0;">“Snake Ceiling” was part of the exhibit “Ai Weiwei: According to What?” at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. that ran through February.
Poster of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington: Hundreds of thousands gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in the Nation’s capital in August to commemorate the 1963 march and re-dedicate themselves to the dream so eloquently articulated by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
So what would be on your list? Let us know in the comments or tweet to us @NewsHour.
Richard Kurin is the Smithsonian’s undersecretary for history, art and culture. His new book is “The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects,” published in October by The Penguin Press.