Smithsonian In Popular Culture

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    Displaying 44 records

    SIGMA Force Series  Year: Creator/Author: James Rollins  Medium: Novel Genre: Sci-Fi Synopsis: Adventures of SIGMA Force, elite fictional division of U.S. Department of Defense, which combines military skills with specialist knowledge. Thus far series includes eleven novels that explore the world of counter-terrorism.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: After first novel, they access their headquarters through basement of the Smithsonian Castle.   
    The Innocents Abroad  Year: 1869 Creator/Author: Mark Twain  Medium: Novel Genre: Drama, Travelogue Synopsis: Travelogue of US tourists on trip to Egypt which Twain actually took.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: One traveler that Twain parodies is a Smithsonian collector.   
    The Professor’s House  Year: 1925 Creator/Author: Willa Cather  Medium: Novel Genre: Drama Synopsis: Professor Godfrey St. Peter story about student Tom Outland’s archeological site.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Tried to interest the Smithsonian in the site, but objects get sold away.   
    Wing of Fame: A Novel Based on the Life of James Smithson  Year: 1934 Creator/Author: Louise Wallace Hackney  Medium: Novel Genre: Drama, Romance Synopsis: Fictionalized account loosely based on life of James Smithson in France.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: James Smithson was founding donor of the Smithsonian.  
    The Man Who Loved Children  Year: 1940 Creator/Author: Christina Stead  Medium: Novel Genre: Drama Synopsis: Story of the Pollit family and their dysfunctional relationships.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Novel discusses Smithsonian characters and the Institution's Pacific expedition.   
    For Your Eyes Only; "The Hildebrand Rarity" Year: 1960 Creator/Author: Ian Fleming Medium: Novel Genre: Action Synopsis: In the short story “The Hildebrand Rarity,” (part of the novel For Your Eyes Only), the villainous American millionaire of the story, Milton Krest, reveals that he goes on his yacht to various locations in the world to retrieve exotic specimens for the Smithsonian so that he can write off the pleasure cruises on his taxes as scientific research on behalf of his foundation. Relationship to the Smithsonian: The prized fish, the Hildebrand Rarity, is going to be given to the Smithsonian  
    The French Lieutenant's Woman  Year: 1969 Creator/Author: John Fowles  Medium: Novel Genre: Drama Synopsis: Sarah Woodruff, a disgraced woman, is abandoned by married French naval officer.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Charles Smithson is loosely based on the Smithsonian's founding donor, James Smithson.   
    Headhunter  Year: 1984 Creator/Author: Michael Slade  Medium: Novel Genre: Action Synopsis: Detective Robert LeClercq must stop a killer on murder spree in city of Vancouver.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: A character mentioned in the novel is a Smithsonian staff member.   
    Murder in the Smithsonian  Year: 1985 Creator/Author: Margaret Truman Daniel  Medium: Novel Genre: Mystery Synopsis: Historian Dr. Lewis Tunney uncovered an international art scandal, but then is murdered at a Smithsonian gala.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: The novel is set at the Smithsonian.   
    Trace Elements  Year: 1986 Creator/Author: Kathryn Lasky Knight  Medium: Novel Genre: Mystery Synopsis: Harvard astrophysicist Tom Jacobs is sent to do research in Nevada but is killed.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Jacobs' widow and son search for answers at the Smithsonian, National Science Foundation, National Geographic Society, etc.   
    A Perfect Spy  Year: 1986 Creator/Author: John LeCarre  Medium: Novel Genre: Action, Spy Synopsis: Magnus Pym, a British spy, is missing. Has he defected? Has he been killed?  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Settings include Langley Theater at the National Air and Space Museum.  
    The Silence of the Lambs  Year: 1988 Creator/Author: Thomas Harris  Medium: Novel Genre: Mystery Synopsis: FBI Agent Clarice Starling works with notorious criminal Hannibal Lecter to capture serial killer Buffalo Bill.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Starling brings an insect to the National Museum of Natural History for teh staff to identify.   
    Foucault’s Pendulum  Year: 1988 Creator/Author: Umberto Eco  Medium: Novel Genre: Mystery Synopsis: Milanese friends invent the Knights Templar conspiracy as joke, but it becomes real.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: A Foucault’s Pendulum used to be at the National Museum of American History, but it was removed a year before the book published.   
    Talking God  Year: 1989 Creator/Author: Tony Hillerman  Medium: Novel Genre: Mystery Synopsis: Navajo Tribal Police Lt. Joe Leaphorn & Officer Jim Chee work on cases of murder and graverobbing that intertwine.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: The novel includes scenes at National Museum of Natural History, with Smithsonian artifacts and Smithsonian staff arrested.   
    Mortal Words  Year: 1990 Creator/Author: Kathryn Lasky Knight  Medium: Novel Genre: Mystery Synopsis: Calista Jacobs and her son return to solve the murder of a children's book author Norman Petrakis, with the help of Smithsonian archeologist Archie Baldwin.   Relationship to the Smithsonian: Smithsonian staffer, Archie Baldwin, plays a major role in helping to solve the mystery.   
    The India Exhibition: A Mystery at the Smithsonian  Year: 1992 Creator/Author: Richard Timothy Conroy  Medium: Novel Genre: Mystery Synopsis: Foreign Service Officer Henry Scruggs us loaned to Smithsonian to head SI foreign affairs office; he assists with exhibit on K. V. Chandra, Indian philosopher. Scruggs has relationship with designer Violet Strauss who disappears with an artifact.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Scruggs must find Strauss and the missing artifcat to save her as well as his career at the Smithsonian.  
    Mr. Smithson's Bones: A Mystery at the Smithsonian  Year: 1993 Creator/Author: Richard Timothy Conroy  Medium: Novel Genre: Mystery Synopsis: Foreign Service Officer Scruggs is still at SI and decides to find out who is buried in Smithson’s tomb.   Relationship to the Smithsonian: Mystery is set in the James Smithson crypt room in the SI Castle.   
    Old Ways in the New World  Year: 1994 Creator/Author: Richard Timothy Conroy  Medium: Novel Genre: Mystery Synopsis: Foreign Service Office Scruggs is again entangled in a mystery at the Smithsonian. As part of United States 1976 bicentennial celebration, Smithsonian visitors include ethnomusicologist from Aganga who is murdered. Scruggs must solve the crime.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: This mystery is set at the Smithsonian with its staff playing major roles.   
    Ghost Singer  Year: 1994 Creator/Author: Ann Lee Walters  Medium: Novel Genre: Mystery Synopsis: Who murdered Smithsonian researchers? And what role did a box of Native American artifacts play in their demise? The museum's only hope lies in hands of Native American traditional healers.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: The story takes place in ethnographic collections of Natural Museum of Natural History.   
    White Orchid  Year: 1994 Creator/Author: Linda Ladd  Medium: Novel Genre: Romance Synopsis: In 1866, Stuart Delaney, an ex-Confederate soldier, is paid to go to India to bring back Anjelica Blake for an arranged marriage, but they fall in love.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Cassandra Delaney is a mentee of the first Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry.   
    Ship Fever  Year: 1994 Creator/Author: Andrea Barrett  Medium: Novel Genre: Drama Synopsis: Short stories explore science and naturalists of the 19th century. The story intertwines historical figures with fictional characters to explore the triumphs and tribulations of field work.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Some of the short stories are set at the Smithsonian with discussion of its bird specimens.   
    Consider Her Way  Year: 1996 Creator/Author: Fran Vincent  Medium: Novel Genre: Romance Synopsis: While on dinosaur dig in Montana, geology professor Marla Carter, deals with life, science, faith, and love.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Cover picture is a Smithsonian triceratops.   
    Esau  Year: 1996 Creator/Author: Philip Kerr  Medium: Novel Genre: Action Synopsis: The discovery of Yeti skull in a forbidden Himalayan mountaintop sets mountaineer Jack Furness and his ex, scientist Stella Swift, to find the mysterious creature.    Relationship to the Smithsonian: Haven’t found SI connection yet.   
    Twenty Blue Devils  Year: 1997 Creator/Author: Aaron Elkins  Medium: Novel Genre: Mystery Synopsis: The manager of Tahiti's Paradise Coffee Plantation is murdered. FBI agent Lau and forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver investigate the crime.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Gideon Oliver has many connections to Smithsonian forensic anthropology program.   
    Voyage of the Narwhal  Year: 1998 Creator/Author: Andrea Barrett  Medium: Novel Genre: Drama Synopsis: Naturalist Erasmus Darwin Wells joins an Arctic voyage to look for an expedition crew that's been missing for 10 years. Rescuers need to be rescued by Native Americans, but do not treat rescuers with respect.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Based on the Robert Stein 1894 proposed Ellesmere Island rescue expedition. Scenes are set in Smithsonian Castle.   
    The Smithsonian Institution: A Novel  Year: 1998 Creator/Author: Gore Vidal  Medium: Novel Genre: Sci-Fi Synopsis: In 1939, 13-year-old "T" is summoned to SI under mysterious circumstances. “T” helps Robert Oppenheimer solve nuclear fission and breaks the time barrier.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Entire novel set in the Smithsonian Castle.   
    Letters from Yellowstone  Year: 2000 Creator/Author: Diane Smith  Medium: Novel Genre: Drama Synopsis: A. E. Bartram, a young woman studying botany, joins the 1898 Yellowstone expedition. Taken for a man from her letters, Bartram deals with other scientists and her evolving views on science and her life.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: The Smithsonian sponsors the expedition to Yellowstone. Characters Dr. Philip Abner, Dr. William Gleick, and Dr. Roger Johnson come from the Smithsonian.   
    Code to Zero  Year: 2000 Creator/Author: Ken Follett  Medium: Novel Genre: Mystery Synopsis: In 1958 Washington, DC, Dr. Claude Lucas, amnesiac, pieces together his life in a Cold War space race mystery.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Parts are set at the Smithsonian, especially in the old Aircraft Building where there are lectures on space fuels.   
    Blue Gold  Year: 2000 Creator/Author: Clive Cussler with Paul Kemprecos  Medium: Novel Genre: Action Synopsis: Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala investigate the deaths of rare whales off the Mexican coast for a US marine agency. In their search, they find a California agribusiness tycoon trying to monopolize earth's fresh water reserves.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Partly set at National Air and Space Museum's Garber Storage Facility. Austen and Zavala use information about aircraft to help solve the mystery.   
    Bones of the Earth  Year: 2002 Creator/Author: Michael Swanwick  Medium: Novel Genre: Sci-Fi Synopsis: After a  mysterious stranger, Harry Griffin, walks into his office, Richard Leyster, renowned paleontologist, goes time traveling, observing creatures he once unearthed.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Leyster is paleontologist at the Smithsonian.   
    The Smoky God; Or, A Voyage to the Inner World  Year: 2002 Creator/Author: Willis George Emerson  Medium: Novel Genre: Sci-Fi Synopsis: A novel presented as a true account of the 1908 adventures of Olaf Jansen, a Norwegian sailor who sailed through an entrance to Earth's interior at North Pole. For 2 years Jansen lived with inhabitants of underground colonies who were 12 feet tall and whose world was lit by a "smoky" central sun.   Relationship to the Smithsonian: All this documentation is purportedly to be deposited in the Smithsonian Institution   
    Capital Mysteries #3: The Skeleton in the Smithsonian  Year: 2003 Creator/Author: Ron Roy  Medium: Novel Genre: Mystery, Children Synopsis: KC Corcoran and her friend Marshall Li stumble upon a mystery at the Smithsonian involving the Institution's founder James Smithson.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: The story involves James Smithson's remains located in the Smithsonian Castle. When Marshall grows up, he wants to work with insects at Smithsonian.   
    The Bone Vault  Year: 2003 Creator/Author: Linda Fairstein  Medium: Novel Genre: Mystery Synopsis: Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit Temple of Dendur has 12th c mummy replaced with a younger one. Romp through museums to solve.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Museum had amphorae on loan from Smithsonian. Trucks mistakenly picked up birds and shells that were to go to Smithsonian.   
    Digging to America: A Novel  Year: 2006 Creator/Author: Anne Tyler  Medium: Novel Genre: Drama Synopsis: Story of two couples, one American, the other Iranian-American, who adopt daughters from Korea.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Smithsonian is mentioned in these lines: "Why should they have to put on these ethnic demonstrations? Let the Donaldsons go to the Smithsonian for that."   
    Capital Mysteries #9: A Thief at the National Zoo  Year: 2007 Creator/Author: Ron Roy  Medium: Novel Genre: Mystery, Children Synopsis: KC Corcoran and Marshall Li must solve mystery of who stole the tiger jewel from the National Zoo.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: KC and Marshall volunteer at the National Zoo to work with tiger cubs.   
    The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate  Year: 2009 Creator/Author: Jacqueline Kelly  Medium: Novel Genre: Drama, Children Synopsis: A Texas girl, Calpurnia, is more interested in natural history than domestic skills.  She studies with her grandfather, and they discover a new species of plant in 1900 in Texas, as she learns to balance her life.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Calpurnia and her grandfather send a picture of the plant to the Smithsonian for confirmation that it's a new species. Then they wait and wait and wait.   
    The Lost Symbol  Year: 2009 Creator/Author: Dan Brown  Medium: Novel Genre: Sci-Fi Synopsis: Robert Langdon, Harvard symbologist, heads to Washington, DC, at the request of his mentor Peter Solomon, a 33rd degree Mason and head of Smithsonian Institution. Langdon realizes that his mentor has been kidnapped and must save him by discovering the Mason's Pyramid and their Lost Word.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: The Smithsonian Museum Support Center is featured in novel.  Dr. Katherine Solomon, Peter Solomon's younger sister, works in a SI-sponsored lab where she  conducts experiments in Noetic Science. Peter Solomon says, "The Smithsonian was established to advance scientific knowledge. As secretary, I must take that charge seriously. I believe the experiments you've proposed have the potential to push the boundaries of science into uncharted territory."   
    The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet: A Novel  Year: 2009 Creator/Author: Reif Larsen  Medium: Novel Genre: Drama Synopsis: Story of T.S. Spivet, a 12-year-old Montana boy who loves to map things. His geology map receives acclaim from the Smithsonian, who not knowing his age give him the Baird Award. Book follows his road trip to the event and lessons he learns.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: The Smithsonian invites the title character to speak at the Institution. Baird Award is named for second Smithsonian Secretary and naturalist Spencer F. Baird.   
    The Spy  Year: 2010 Creator/Author: Clive Cussler and Justin Scott  Medium: Novel Genre: Action Synopsis: In 1908 international tensions are on the rise. The US, UK, Germany, and Japan are each trying to build world’s greatest naval fleet, and spies from every country want to hinder progress of rivals. When when rogue spy is bent on undoing fleets for unknown reasons, Van Dorn private detective Isaac Bell must stop him before more people get harmed.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: A Japanese spy uses the front that he is in the US as a curator to help catalog the Smithsonian's Freer Collection of Asian Art  
    The Bowl is Already Broken: A Novel  Year: 2011 Creator/Author: Mary Kay Zuravleff  Medium: Novel Genre: Drama Synopsis: Promise Whittaker, acting director of the Museum of Asian Art, has to deal with large problems, including their manager's wish to move the museum's objects and reconfigure the space to allow for more food service  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Museum of Asian Art is the Freer and Sackler Galleries. The author worked as an editor for Smithsonian Magazine.  Does not mention Smithsonian by name, but refers to the "Castle" and "Natural History."   
    Specimen Song: A Montana Mystery  Year: 2012 Creator/Author: Peter Bowen  Medium: Novel Genre: Mystery Synopsis: Cattle inspector and sometimes lawman Gabriel Du Pré travels from Montana to Washington, DC, to perform fiddle music from his Métis Indian heritage in the Smithsonian festival. Du Pré is entangled in solving mysterious death of a Cree Indian woman. When he returns to Montana the murders follow, each with the same "MO."  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Du Pré travels to DC to perform in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Character Paul Chase is a Smithsonian employee.  Du Pré travels with a curator from Smithsonian along a Canadian fur-trade route.   
    The Lost Order (Cotton Malone Series #12)  Year: 2017 Creator/Author: Steve Berry  Medium: Novel Genre: Mystery Synopsis: Ex-Justice Dept.  agent Cotton Malone is back to solve treasure mystery of the Knights of the Golden Circle, a US clandestine organization that hid stolen money and precious metals in caches across US. He and 21st century Smithsonian are linked to it through ancestor, Confederate spy, Angus “Cotton” Adams.  Relationship to the Smithsonian: Parts of the novel are set at the Smithsonian. The novel opens in 1865 Smithsonian Castle as it is engulfed in flames.  21st century scenes revolve around National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of American History, the Castle, and Smithsonian tunnels, with staff as major players in other scenes across the country.   
    Follow Me Year: 2020 Creator/Author: Kathleen Barber Medium: Novel Genre: Mystery Synopsis: Instagram influencer Audrey Miller discovers how dangerous social media can be when she’s terrorized by a stalker after moving to a new city. He's been following her for years but now she is nearby. Relationship to the Smithsonian: Audrey Miller moves from Manhattan to Washington DC to become social media manager at a Smithsonian art museum.  
    Ann Beltran  Year: 2021 Creator/Author: Love on the Mall: A Tale of the National Mall  Medium: Novel Genre: Romance, Young Adult Synopsis: Estela the anthropologist, a young woman of the Roaring 20’s, and architect Nikos, struggling to put the Great War and Spanish flu behind him. Are they soulmates? Perhaps. Yet for 20 years the romance never leaves the National Mall. What keeps them apart lies within.    Relationship to the Smithsonian: Includes scenes from the US National Museum’s Department of Anthropology and the National Mall, location of the Smithsonian.