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January 19, 2022

New in February at Smithsonian “FUTURES,” the New Frontiers of Love and Dating

Plus, Interactive Playback Theater Troupe Verbal Gymnastics Explores Black History Month, Testing Exoskeletons With Harvard Researchers and More

people raising hands

“FUTURES” at the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building (AIB) invites future makers to its February new free public programs and pop-ups that offer an antidote to the winter doldrums. 

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, AIB will bring together relationship experts, storytellers and live musical performers to answer visitors’ burning questions on love and dating in the future with FUTURES Cypher: The Future of Dating” Thursday, Feb. 10, at 6:30 p.m. (virtual and in-person). What would a virtual reality date be like? What if a smartwatch could detect a new partner’s emotions while out to dinner? And what does a post-pandemic love life even look like? Join the Washington Post Date Lab’s Jessica M. Goldstein, breakup coach and host of the podcast “Heal Your Heartbreak” Kendra Allen, National Public Radio’s Tanya Ballard Brown and Washington, D.C.-based musical duo BOOMscat to uncover the recipe for finding love in the future.   

“Dream Big! An Interactive Playback Performance” Thursday, Feb. 24, at 6:30 p.m. (virtual and in-person) promises a rollicking, interactive and aspirational journey through past, present and future, celebrating Black History (Futures) Month. Inspired by the story of leading civil rights activist Floyd McKissick—who in the 1970s dreamed of developing a utopian Soul City for Black empowerment—award-winning Washington-based theater group Verbal Gymnastics will invite audiences to participate in live improv playback theater for a night of fun and creative storytelling around big, bold dreams.  

AIB will also host free virtual and in-person programs that delve deeply into ideas to solve the future, new each month. February’s calendar features: 

“Meet Us in the FUTURES: A World for Water” (virtual); Thursday, Feb. 3, 6:30 p.m. EST; rescheduled from Jan. 7: More than 70% of the Earth is covered in water, but increasingly the majority of the global population is “water stressed,” without access to clean, fresh water. The virtual audience can take a journey into a future world where everyone has equitable access to clean and drinkable water, using the power of science. AIB’s signature virtual talk series brings audiences into the inspiring places of big thinkers, this time with National Geographic Explorer and marine biologist Asha de Vos; world-renowned chemist Omar Yaghi who invented a groundbreaking Water Harvester (WaHa) that pulls water from the air in the driest conditions; and chemist and WaHa Chief Technology Officer Eugene Kaputsin. Registration is free but required.  

“Tell Me More: Our Future Bodies” (virtual and in-person); Thursday, Feb. 17, 6:30 p.m. EST: Is it possible to imagine a future where robots are a normal part of the human body? “Tell Me More” gives visitors a chance to explore the magic of groundbreaking inventions—like Harvard’s Exosuit robotic exoskeletons—through live hands-on demos with the real people who make them happen.  The program will be moderated by award-winning science communicator Emily Graslie, formerly the ‘Chief Curiosity Correspondent’ at Chicago’s Field Museum and creator of The Brain ScoopRegistration is free but required.  

-“Fridays @ FUTURES” (in-person); Friday, Feb. 4, 11, 18 and 25; 5:30–7 p.m. EST: Every Friday night 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.  

Launching Feb. 1, audiences can time travel from the 19th century to the future with this month’s “Futurist in Residence,” artist and illustrator Carlos Carmonamedina. “Futurist in Residence” is an online residency inviting innovators to think creatively about the future and develop new content to spark delight and conversation. Carmonamedina will be creating new original artwork of AIB from its 1881 founding to the present day to the far future, revealing a new one every week on social media @smithsonianAIB. He is known for highlighting the human side of the city with his popular “DC is my City,” his challenge to create an artwork a week documenting the capitol as an exciting metropolis changing at an ever-accelerating pace. Tune in for a conversation with Carmonamedina on Instagram Live Wednesday, Feb. 9, at 12 p.m., and join a drawing workshop in person during Fridays @ FUTURES on Friday, Feb. 18, at 5:30 p.m.   

For more details about the programs, the public can visit Livestreaming for programs is supported by Comcast NBCUniversal.  


“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, “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, the public can go to

“FUTURES” is made possible by a select group of sponsors and supporters: Amazon Web Services, Autodesk, Bell Textron Inc., Jacqueline B. Mars, John and Adrienne Mars, the Embassy of the State of Qatar, David M. Rubenstein, and SoftBank Group. Major support is also provided by the Annenberg Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Kevin S. Bright and Claudia W. Bright, and Robert Kogod. Additional funding is provided by Accenture, John Brock III, Events DC, First Solar, Ford Motor Company, Wendy Dayton, Charlie and Nancy Hogan, the Suzanne Nora Johnson and David Johnson Foundation, Lyda Hill Philanthropies, MedWand Solutions, National Football League, the National Football Players Association and Oracle.

About the Arts and Industries Building

The Arts and Industries Building (AIB) opened in 1881 as the country’s first National Museum, an architectural icon in the heart of the National Mall. Its soaring halls introduced millions of Americans to wonders about to change the world—Edison’s lightbulb, the first telephone, Apollo rockets. Dubbed “Palace of Wonders” and “Mother of Museums,” AIB incubated new Smithsonian museums for over 120 years before finally closing to the public in 2004. “FUTURES” is a milestone first step in the long-term plan to renovate and permanently reopen this landmark space. For more information, visit Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.