Smithsonian's 'FUTURES' features host of experiences

A family stands in front of artwork Me + You at FUTURES Remixed Family Day opening weekend.

WASHINGTON — Visitors can start 2022 off with a dash of dreaming as “FUTURES” at the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building invites future makers to an array of new free public programs and pop-ups that help set hopeful intentions for the year ahead.

For those who haven’t made one yet, audiences can visit aib.si.edu to get their own New Year’s resolution from an artificial intelligence “Resolution Generator” thanks to acclaimed AI humorist and researcher Janelle Shane, author of “You Look Like a Thing” and “I Love You.”

Resolutions range from the delightfully ambitious (“Find and pet every dog in my state”) to the truly weird (“Make a perfect replica of my house made entirely of bread”) to the never-thought-of-it-but-why-not (“Spend 30 days with a cabbage and see if I’m happier than 30 days before”), all created by an AI-trained internet text.

The project is part of AIB’s new monthly “Futurist in Residence,” an online residency inviting innovators to think creatively about the future and develop new content to spark delight and conversation. Each Futurist will explore a new theme and medium, spanning performing arts to food science to poetry from Mars, rolling out their creations online and on @smithsonianAIB.

A free “FUTURES We Dream” community weekend Jan. 14–16 will journey into a more equitable future, honoring the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. and all those who use their voice to make a difference. At “Fridays@FUTURES” Friday, Jan. 14, visitors can hear from AIB’s Monica O. Montgomery, social justice and programming curator, on community action and storytelling.

On Saturday, Jan. 15, they can join a “Futures We Dream Film Premiere” at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., to watch the premiere of the exhibition’s short film series on everyday people making a difference across the country. They can also learn more about the inspirational social justice themes behind each film and greet the award-winning filmmakers behind the work, in partnership with the DC Public Library and the Alliance for Media Arts + Culture. On Sunday, Jan. 16, AIB will celebrate the youngest future makers, including a lively “Futures We Dream Family Day” full of art making, social justice tours and more.

Starting Jan. 5, award-winning non-profit public art and history studio Monument Lab will be in residence at “FUTURES” to inaugurate their newest project, a Monuments Must Change Public Classroom. Though explorations of public memory, this collaborative pop-up will invite everyone to share stories of joy, regeneration and belonging to invent their own monuments. Most recently, Monument Lab and the Mellon Foundation released a landmark National Monument Audit that scoured the records of over a half-million historic properties, an effort to expand monuments for future generations to reflect the richness of American stories.

AIB will also host free virtual and in-person programs delving deeply into ways to solve the future, new each month. January’s calendar features:

“Tell Me More: Living with Robots!” (virtual and in-person); Thursday, Jan. 20, 6:30 p.m.: How can robots enhance people’s everyday lives? Is it possible to imagine a future world where robots increase human abilities by walking and living among them? “Tell Me More” gives visitors a chance to explore the magic of groundbreaking inventions through live hands-on demos with the real people who make them happen. Registration is free but required.

“WIYRSP: Art and Technology Building Community” (virtual and in-person); Wednesday, Jan. 26, 6:30 p.m.: Technology is not just a tool, it can be a powerful medium for creatives like artists to create empathy, equity and new ideas between diverse communities. Audiences can join me + you artist and architect Suchi Reddy, curator and New Museum Deputy Director Isolde Brielmaier and other creative visionaries to look closer at ways art, science, AI and augmented reality can forge deeply human connections. Registration is free but required.

“Fridays @ FUTURES” (in-person); Friday, Jan. 7, 14, 21 and 28; 5:30–7 p.m.: Every Friday in “FUTURES,” visitors can start the weekend off right with a generous helping of new ideas and surprising brain snacks. They can explore the entire exhibition until 7 p.m. and keep coming back each week for a new and interesting take on the future through special tours, pop-up experiences, guest speakers and more. Free and open to drop-ins, no advance registration is required.

For more details about the programs, the public can visit aib.si.edu/happenings.

About “FUTURES”

“FUTURES” is the Smithsonian’s first major building-wide exploration of the future and will temporarily reopen its oldest museum for the first time in nearly two decades. The part-exhibition, part-festival, designed by award-winning architecture firm Rockwell Group, will celebrate the Smithsonian’s 175th anniversary with more than 150 awe-inspiring objects, ideas, prototypes and installations that fuse art, technology, design and history to help visitors imagine many possible futures on the horizon.

On view through July 6, 2022, “FUTURES” will be open every day except Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with extended hours until 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is free, and no timed tickets are currently required. For more information and to plan a visit, go to aib.si.edu.

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