Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very interesting Great to watch after having been to the Smithsonian museums many times and taking out of town guests
Date published: 2018-04-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just like a tour at the Smithsonian Sat down to watch this with family and nobody wanted it turned off. Great and educational
Date published: 2018-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Trip preparation We used this course to get ready for a 16 day trip to Washington DC with our nine and eleven year old children. We watched these videos together with the kids and it got them so excited about our trip. Once in DC they were able to draw from what they had learned in this course. This course surely enriched our museum going experience in DC and provided a great education. Thank you!
Date published: 2018-01-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enhanced with many photos I'm really sorry that they weren't actually at the museum, but realize that the lighting needed for filming was not good for the artifacts. Enjoyed all the extra photos which explained the material fully. Saw many of these items on my last visit but this gave me a more in depth understanding.
Date published: 2017-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing!!!!!!!! I had reservations when i first bought this course, but, they quickly disappeared. The professors are fully knowledgable on the subject, the presentation is gorgeous, and the information is quickly absorbed. I am a very happy life learner with the Great Courses Plus. WTG Guys!!!
Date published: 2017-07-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Narration! Wish it privided some walk through the museum as it relates to the era. Not yet able to visit the Museum!
Date published: 2017-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unique American History Course Every single lecture in this course was interesting. Most covered two or three different artifacts from the Smithsonian collections, using them to tell important stories. Each lecture was extremely well written. At first I thought I was going to have trouble getting used to the narrator's somewhat scratchy voice, but I quickly got used to his delivery. It is not a linear discussion of US history, but rather a topical approach. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in history. Even if you already know a lot, you will learn a few new things, and any future visits to the Smithsonian museums will be enhanced.
Date published: 2017-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A good start I have visited the Smithsonian several times so I was familiar with some of the objects in this tour. I thought that this is a good start for some one who has not had the benefit of visiting Washington DC and the Smithsonian museums. There needs to be a follow up course on some of the more obscure objects of our history.
Date published: 2017-05-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It was alright Although the history lessons are very interesting, I thought there would be more inside the Smithsonian shown and a tour of it.
Date published: 2017-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow! Just about half way through the course and I've discovered so many interesting answers to questions I've had about many of the artifacts at the Smithsonian!
Date published: 2016-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Presentation on American History Excellent presentation with very unique visual aids from the Smithsonian. Great professor, covered many topics and again the visual aids where outstanding.
Date published: 2016-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from American History Outstanding course, I really enjoy history & visiting historical sites. This course is the next best thing to being there.
Date published: 2016-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History vividly presented Each lesson uses an object from the Smithsonian collection as a starting point for a presentation on U.S. histroy. I have viewed or listened to several of the lessons since I purchased the course. I find there is much I did not know or know in detail. Much of the content is moving to me as an American. I enjoy watching when I can, but the audio stands on its own and I have listened to the audio alone while otherwise busy. It is very convenient to download a course and view/listen at one's convenience even when a DVD player or wifi are not available.
Date published: 2016-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Delightful The design of this course was exactly what I'd hoped. Valuable snippets of Americans can history told through artifacts found at the Smithsonian. The instructor was not only informative but passionate about each of the artifacts and associated backstory. Certainly not comprehensive by any means but extremely enjoyable.
Date published: 2016-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Combination Who can argue the fact that the Smithsonian is a great institution and does an excellent job in almost all they do. Combine that with the great work The Great Courses does and you obviously have a winning combination. I would advise all to add this course to their collection. It is fascinating and done in a very good presentation format
Date published: 2016-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Preparation for a Planned Trip I decided to take this course after planning to take a long overdue trip to see the Smithsonian. The professor was incredibly energetic and clearly enjoyed the subject matter. This is one of the better produced Great Courses that I have seen and has more (and better) video and graphics. The professor also does a great job of weaving significant amounts of American history into each lecture. Each lesson focuses on a particular topic, such as voyages of exploration, transportation or industry. Each lesson starts at an early point in American history and works toward more modern events, staying with the theme for the entire lesson. For instance, for the lesson regarding exploration, the professor starts with the Lewis and Clark Expedition (featuring a compass in the museum's collection) and ends with the Apollo Space Program (featuring Apollo 11 in the collection). There were two exceptions to this pattern: the very first lesson focusing on the Star Spangled Banner and later lesson focusing on the Hope Diamond. These lessons were both outstanding, particularly the Hope Diamond lesson. I thought I would not be that interested in the Hope Diamond, and I had planned to skip the Museum of Natural History since my planned visit is relatively short. I now plan to make time to see the Hope Diamond after hearing about its amazing history. This course really helped plan my visit. I highly recommend this for anyone interested in planning a trip to the Smithsonian or who just wants to learn about American history in a unique way.
Date published: 2016-02-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Expected more Great idea! Having first visited Washington, DC, in May 2014 and some of the museums, I guess I was expecting so much more to be packed into this course. It wasn't a waste of time, and it does give you a glimpse into what the Smithsonian offers but it kind of fell short for me. Would have liked the delivery picked up a little, and more items presented. The story behind each item is fascinating, but as a "tour", wished they could have been summarized a bit more to allow more of a tour.
Date published: 2016-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this We are planning to go to the Smithsonian later this spring, and bought this course as preparation. It will be invaluable for our enjoyment. Dr. Kurin is a wonderful enthusiastic presenter and puts the objects in great context. Thanks!
Date published: 2016-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History brought to life This professor is so interesting! I was never much into history in school. I watched him spell bound. Now I want to go to the Smithsonian to see these items in person. Well done!!!
Date published: 2016-01-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Left Wing Blame America This is just a blame The United States for its treatment of minorities and native americans propaganda.
Date published: 2016-01-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A bit disappointed I must say that this is based only on having watched one lesson, but having looked at the titles of all of the upcoming lessons. So the jury is still out. I will keep this course and hope for the best, but I must say that the mannerisms of the professor are a bit off-putting. As for the content of the one chapter that I watched, I was disappointed, but that is just me. I will hope for a better fit with my interests with other chapters.
Date published: 2016-01-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Do you believe in magic... I have taken over 200 courses with The Great Courses. I first taught middle school in 1971, then high school. I moved on to higher education and attained a Full Professorship, which I held for 27 years. In addition, I have written over 10 degree programs for major higher educational institutions and state systems. So, I have some familiarity in the field of teaching/education. I am also a Johns Hopkins graduate. History and attaching truth to stories is one of the oldest professions in the world, probably the oldest. We all know of the others. It is said that historic fact is determined by the winners, not the losers of man's exploits. Stated another way history is tainted by all sorts of tangential influences, and many not altruistic. This course suffers from such shortcomings. While the lecturer appears to be very knowledgeable and anchored in his craft, he is a tainted soul (with a credibility issue) who depends on his livelihood from a government organization that demands a favorable outcome. One might say his job depends on it. He is a part of the U.S. Government complex which has political ambitions and singular points-of-view. If you have lived long enough on this planet and are an aware being, you must have noticed many incongruities in the way news is reported. In many instances reporters right on the scene of a happening, have varying views about what had actually happened, or, what/how to report (in) the "news." If eyewitnesses trained to observe events that occur right before their eyes can have a varied, different opinions of the "truth" of an event, then, how can a man who is out of his convention of time report history as fact through an object… an inanimate object that witnesses not a single solitary thing about its surroundings. The word "spin" comes to mind as I write this short essay. Did I tell you that my first field of study, and career of employment, was located on the island of Manhattan on Madison Avenue, NYC. I was a "Mad Man" in advertising in the late 1960s. I was trained (and hold a degree in media arts/advertising) to sell anything to anyone, anything to anyone... got the picture. Usually they are items/services a normal human being, in right mind, would never purchase, unless their psychology was breached. Remember the saying in advertising, "sXX sells." It is not just a saying, but a truism in advertising. Advertisers attach inanimate objects to your feelings, which are governed by chemical hormones influencing basic, human behavioral psychology. Anybody can be manipulated and deceived into believing red is green, or yellow is blue. In fact, they would probably swear to it in a court of law, under the right circumstances. Magicians are professional deceivers and illusionists. Is a picture being painted in your mind… yet. Most of the stories in this course, while entertaining, are fiction at best. And, just like the image of Lewis and Clark's Indian princess on the silver coin is fake (and it was stated so in the course, to be fair here) the whole historic value to the student trying to grasp the real history of the United States is suspect. While I did find the lecturer to be pleasant and a good public speaker, the content of the course lacked truth, real depth, and value for Americans trying to understand their true heritage. "Spin" is all around us today. It comes in many forms and sizes. It can be quit harmless, or it can be used to steal the freedom from a citizenry. Be very careful what you believe to be the truth when trying to understand facts. Remember, I can get you to think that red is really green, and yellow is really blue, if I decide to do so. In fact that is the way the mind perceives those colors. So red is green and yellow is blue. Look it up. Thanks for reading my short critique of this course. Now, go out and apply what I just told you to your own life and everything presented to you daily. Just say to yourself and apply these few prefaces to what you hear about news, facts, and history: Who is speaking this truth (their position, too); who do they work for; what do they have to gain by you believing such a story; and who paid for it. It is that simple to live an informed life.
Date published: 2015-12-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The very model of a modern museum Let's get something out of the way, this is not a college history course. This is a museum curator telling stories about American history, technology, disasters and oppression viewed wherever possible though the eyes of minorities and women. The portrait gallery episode is a good example of the standard breakdown. We view Pocahontas, Fredrick Douglas, Abe Lincoln and Rosie the Riveter. Neither historian nor art critic would have chosen these four from the thousands of available options. For a museum ambassador choosing a minority woman, an African American, a President and a cultural icon make perfect sense. Once you adjust to the reality of this perspective in a series of five to ten minute stories rather than longer form lectures, this is a sporadically enjoyable course. The narrator can be a riveting storyteller as he spins tales of America and illustrating them with pictures of artifacts and occasionally artifacts themselves. This is as good a multimedia presentation as the Great Courses has yet produced filled with pictures, maps, graphics and occasionally film clips. The stories themselves tend toward the negative which can get a bit depressing, but they are stories worth knowing. Sometimes you just wish America had actually uplifted someone through a means beyond fashion or film by say saving the World for Democracy three times in the 20th century defeating the twin monsters of fascism and communism. I guess asking a country to do that would be asking too much. This is a history course for non-historians and folks interested in the history of oppressed peoples from African Americans to Native Americans to Female Americans to Mormon Americans to Gay Americans to Mexican Americans. For a less biased but more compelling look at African American History try Turning Points in American History. Weaving the experiences of slaves and their descendents as one of the many threads of American history made the story much more poignant. Frankly I cried at points during that course, while this one just irritated me with its bias.
Date published: 2015-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Experiencing America through Iconic Artifacts The collaboration of the Teaching Company and the Smithsonian Institution is a match made in heaven. This tour through the Smithsonian is a journey back in our nation's history. Many of the artifacts I was unfamiliar with or wasn't aware the museum owned: Harriet Tubman's hymnal book, the droids from Star Wars, Sitting Bull’s Drawing Book, Kodak Brownie Camera, the Enola Gay, Julia Child’s Kitchen, and Kermit the Frog. Other are more well known to me like the Hope Diamond, Star Spangled Banner, and Dorothy's Ruby Slippers. Each of them had such a fascinating history attached to me. I imaging that choosing the artifacts to feature on the course had not been an easy decision. I would have loved it if Dr. Kurin had brought some of the artifacts into the studio to share. But of course, for security reasons, they could not be removed from their exhibits. I would say that I gained a lot more knowledge in watching this course. It made me look at certain aspects of American history in a new light and the people who owned them. I look forward to what new courses the Smithsonian and the Teaching Company will do together.
Date published: 2015-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Smithsonian Overview and History Refresher I'm not sure when I'll get to the Smithsonian, but in the meantime I have this great series to tell me what's there. Love the perfect length of each segment, the descriptions, the context given, all of it.
Date published: 2015-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A gratifying education I had a lot of questions prior to getting into this course, but they were answered as each class started and ended. Watching the clock while in my college classes were nothing compared to these courses, shown on four disks, the classes were fast and educational. The professor is professional and courteous throughout and doesn't sound like a drone as some college classes can be. I appreciated the time The Great Courses put all this together. You will be surprised at the amount of content here. The Smithsonian is my first class, so I can't recommend another class that I haven't experienced, but I look forward in getting into more lessons to be learned in the many other courses mentioned in their catalog.
Date published: 2015-02-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Relates Smithsonian Items to History Richard Kurin does a good job of putting items from the Smithsonian into their historical context. Kurin is not an expert on every era, but he explains why each item is important. I have not been to the Smithsonian in a long time, and this class makes me want to go to the Smithsonian for an extended visit.
Date published: 2015-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course I loved this course the professor was engaging and clear if you like american history purchase this course
Date published: 2015-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyable I bought this for my sister to view as she recovered from a surgical procedure. She reports that it is very informative and that she is truly enjoying all the interesting facts contained in the lectures heretofore unknown to her. She also said she likes the fact it is in 30 minute increments, so it fills in the time between therapy etc. I will probably try a course myself. There are several that sound very interesting to me. There is no reason to stop learning and I think the Great Courses concept is very good for those of us who feel that way.
Date published: 2014-11-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History With a Human Touch In this survey of famous historical objects, our tour guide is Dr. Richard Kurin, the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture. Each lecture examines priceless Americana from the Smithsonian’s unprecedented collection of historical artifacts. There are fascinating behind-the-scenes stories about such topics as the two chairs used by Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. Lee sat in the more comfortable chair, and apparently Grant didn’t mind! This is one of the historical excursions that provide a human dimension to history. In production values, there was a creative configuration of the studio space to resemble a museum. The excellent camera work provided close-ups on the precious objects while the extremely clear maps and computer graphic images enhanced every one of the lectures. Kudos to The Great Courses’ production team! As a scholar-lecturer, Dr. Kurin has a commanding presence on camera, and he provides thorough coverage of the selected objects. The background in each program was successful in placing even the most mundane object in its proper historical context. From the origin of the Star Spangled Banner to the Spirit of St. Louis, the course offered a thoughtful introduction to American history through objects that have survived the ravages of time. It was a special treat to have an immediate and direct experience from the collection of one of our most revered institutions. The course demonstrates that museums can be both fun and educational, especially when there is the human touch. COURSE GRADE: A
Date published: 2014-11-17
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Experiencing America: A Smithsonian Tour through American History
Course Trailer
Star-Spangled Banner-Inspiring the Anthem
1: Star-Spangled Banner-Inspiring the Anthem

Begin your tour of national treasures from the Smithsonian with the artifact that inspired our national anthem: the flag that flew over Fort McHenry when Francis Scott Key penned "The Star-Spangled Banner." Hear about the battle for the fort and the later history of the flag, including how it was almost "loved to death."

34 min
Presidents and Generals-Images of Leadership
2: Presidents and Generals-Images of Leadership

Learn how some of the country's greatest leaders have seen themselves and been seen by the nation. Inspect Washington's uniform, swords, and portraits. Also look at notable photographs of Lincoln, and trace the history of Eisenhower's distinctive army jacket and his presidential "look."

30 min
Conscience and Conflict - Religious History
3: Conscience and Conflict - Religious History

View Smithsonian artifacts that tell the story of the quest for religious freedom in America-from a rare religious portrait from the colonial Southwest, to a chunk of Plymouth Rock, to Thomas Jefferson's unique compilation of the Gospels, to the symbolic sunstone on the original Mormon Temple in Nauvoo, Illinois.

31 min
The Growth and Spread of Slavery
4: The Growth and Spread of Slavery

Starting with a set of slave shackles, chart the history of slavery in the Americas. Discover how the invention of the cotton gin helped expand slave labor. Then follow the story of African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman, as told through some of her treasured personal belongings.

33 min
Emancipation and the Civil War
5: Emancipation and the Civil War

Study relics and documents related to the emancipation of slaves during the Civil War era, culminating with General Lee's surrender at Appomattox. Also hear poignant stories told by a selection of artifacts from the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

30 min
Gold, Guns, and Grandeur-The West
6: Gold, Guns, and Grandeur-The West

Hear the tale told by a tiny gold flake, smaller than a fingernail, which launched the California Gold Rush in the late 1840s. Encounter another artifact that had a profound impact on the West: the Colt revolver. And view the West through the eyes of both settlers and natives in the art of Albert Bierstadt and the sketches from Sitting Bull's drawing book.

32 min
The First Americans-Then and Now
7: The First Americans-Then and Now

Inspect stone points produced at the end of the last ice age by the Clovis culture of early hunter-gatherers in the Americas. Then probe the mystery of the birdman carving found in an ancient Native American burial mound. See how tribal traditions continue to inspire Indian artists.

33 min
Planes, Trains, Automobiles ... and Wagons
8: Planes, Trains, Automobiles ... and Wagons

Examine four key artifacts that tell the story of America on the move: the Conestoga wagon; the John Bull steam locomotive; the Ford Model T; and Charles Lindbergh's airplane, the Spirit of St. Louis. Each represents a technology that profoundly altered the nation.

32 min
Communications-From Telegraph To Television
9: Communications-From Telegraph To Television

Focus on inventions that radically transformed how people communicate, beginning with Samuel Morse's telegraph. Then look at a historic telephone used by Alexander Graham Bell, and listen to one of his early recording disks. Finally, witness the birth of mass media through the inventions of radio and television.

32 min
Immigrant Dreams and Immigrant Struggles
10: Immigrant Dreams and Immigrant Struggles

Investigate objects linked to the experiences of America's immigrants: an original model of the Statue of Liberty, a painting highlighting the injustice of internment for Japanese Americans during World War II, and two artifacts connected to Caesar Chavez and his battle for the rights of Mexican-American farm workers.

31 min
User Friendly-Democratizing Technology
11: User Friendly-Democratizing Technology

The Singer sewing machine, the Kodak Brownie camera, and the Apple Macintosh computer each exemplify the transformative effects of functionality and good design. View early models of these pioneering inventions, and explore the social revolutions they set in motion.

32 min
Extinction and Conservation
12: Extinction and Conservation

The Smithsonian's many facilities include the National Zoo and its living collections. Focus on four animals' stories that shed light on extinction and conservation of species in America: Sandy the buffalo, Tioga the bald eagle, Martha the passenger pigeon, and a pair of pandas-Hsing Hsing and Ling Ling.

34 min
Kitty Hawk to Tranquility-Innovation and Flight
13: Kitty Hawk to Tranquility-Innovation and Flight

Review the rich tradition of innovation in America. Then zero in on two remarkable achievements: the Wright brothers' airplane and the Apollo flights to the Moon. View an actual astronaut glove worn on Apollo 8, the first mission to orbit the Moon.

32 min
Cold War-Red Badges, Bombs, and the Berlin Wall
14: Cold War-Red Badges, Bombs, and the Berlin Wall

Survey selected Smithsonian artifacts that capture the trajectory of the Cold War-from a 1930s patriotic union badge worn by labor leader John L. Lewis, to the Enola Gay bomber that ended World War II, to a 1950s fallout shelter and a piece of the shattered Berlin Wall.

31 min
National Tragedy-Maine, Pearl Harbor, 9/11
15: National Tragedy-Maine, Pearl Harbor, 9/11

Nothing speaks more powerfully than an object that has weathered tragedy. Look at simple, eloquent relics from the explosion of USS Maine in 1898, the sinking of USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor in 1941, and the destruction of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001.

32 min
For the Greater Good-Public Health
16: For the Greater Good-Public Health

Guided by key artifacts at the Smithsonian, see how grassroots efforts, social activism, and the care and determination of the American people helped fund a cure for polio, led to birth control for women, and combatted the bias against those with AIDS.

31 min
Women Making History
17: Women Making History

Explore the struggle for an inclusive role for women in American society. Chart the history of the women's suffrage movement; witness Helen Keller's miraculous story; follow Amelia Earhart's heartbreaking career in the air; and get a glimpse into Julia Child's life as a television pioneer and cultural icon.

32 min
The Power of Portraits
18: The Power of Portraits

Peer into powerful faces from the past, including those of Pocahontas, Frederick Douglass, and the female factory worker apocryphally known as Rosie the Riveter, who appears on an iconic poster from World War II. Also inspect another icon: the signature stovepipe hat worn by Abraham Lincoln.

31 min
Two Centuries of American Style
19: Two Centuries of American Style

Delve into examples of American style, starting with Benjamin Franklin's cane and Andrew Carnegie's innovative New York mansion (now itself a Smithsonian museum). Then view memorabilia from Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, and Louis Armstrong. Close with Jacqueline Kennedy's simple but stunning inaugural gown.

30 min
Hollywood-The American Myth Machine
20: Hollywood-The American Myth Machine

The Smithsonian has been farsighted in acquiring artifacts from America's modern myth machine: Hollywood. View some prime specimens-from the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz to the costumes for the robotic sidekicks in Star Wars.

32 min
The Hope Diamond-America's Crown Jewel
21: The Hope Diamond-America's Crown Jewel

Follow the saga of the Hope Diamond, which has led a storied career since it was mined in India in the 1600s. Learn about its alleged curse and the unusual way it arrived at the Smithsonian in 1958, where it has remained a perennially popular exhibit.

32 min
Sing Out for Justice-American Music
22: Sing Out for Justice-American Music

Americans have always blended politics and song. Trace the rise of three great voices in this tradition: Marian Anderson, Woody Guthrie, and Bob Dylan. Among other touchstones of their era, see the mink coat that Anderson wore at a celebrated concert on the National Mall in 1939.

33 min
Exploring the Land, Exploring the Universe
23: Exploring the Land, Exploring the Universe

Cross the expanse of the continent with Lewis and Clark, then leap into space with the Mercury, Apollo, and Space Shuttle programs. Discover how Smithsonian scientists will continue exploring the limits of the cosmos with the Giant Magellan Telescope.

32 min
"All Men Are Created Equal"-Civil Rights
24: "All Men Are Created Equal"-Civil Rights

Close the course by returning to the Declaration of Independence and its pledge that "all men are created equal." Trace the struggle to realize this promise from the turmoil of Reconstruction to a lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., site of sit-ins during the Civil Rights era, and now on display at-where else?-the Smithsonian.

44 min
Richard Kurin

Objects have an amazing ability to connect us to history in a powerful, emotional, visceral way.


University of Chicago


The Smithsonian

About Richard Kurin

Dr. Richard Kurin is the Smithsonian's Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture. In this position, he oversees most of the Smithsonian's national museums, libraries, and archives, as well as several of its research and outreach programs. Dr. Kurin holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Philosophy from the University at Buffalo-The State University of New York. He earned both his M.A. and his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago.

Dr. Kurin has worked at the Smithsonian for almost four decades, starting with the Bicentennial of the United States in 1976. For decades he directed the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, representing the diversity of America's cultural traditions at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall, in Folkways recordings and other publications. He has produced programs on American history and culture for several presidential inaugurations and for the Olympics, as well as the National World War II Reunion for the opening of the World War II Memorial. Before becoming Under Secretary, Dr. Kurin directed the Smithsonian's National Programs, sending exhibitions and educational offerings across the United States. Dr. Kurin has served on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, and drafted an international treaty on safeguarding the world's living cultural heritage. He represents the Smithsonian on the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, as well as the White House Historical Association. He has been awarded the Smithsonian Secretary's Gold Medal for Exceptional Service and numerous other honors.

Dr. Kurin has taught at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and frequently lectures at The George Washington University, as well as at universities and museums across the country and around the world. He regularly blogs for Smithsonian magazine and Smithsonian Journeys, has given hundreds of speeches, and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs.

Dr. Kurin is the author of scores of scholarly articles and several books, including Hope Diamond: The Legendary History of a Cursed Gem; Reflections of a Culture Broker: A View from the Smithsonian; and Smithsonian Folklife Festival: Culture of, by, and for the People. His latest book is The Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects, a national bestseller that provides the basis for this Great Course

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