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American Ingenuity Awards Expand Beyond Invite-Only Event

Rosanne Cash, winner of the Performing Arts award in 2014, performs at last year's American Ingenuity Awards. Photo by Richard Greenhouse Photography.

The American Ingenuity Awards have honored the country’s leading intellectuals and their contributions to education, social progress, and the arts and sciences at an invite-only dinner for the past three years. But now something’s changed: This year, Smithsonian magazine has expanded programming to include public events.

On November 12, the Smithsonian will hand over awards–designed by artist Jeff Koons–to Fred Armisen and Bill Hader for their Documentary Now! television series; Alan Stern for leading the New Horizons mission to Pluto; Zoe Crosher and Shamim Momin for their 100-billboard art project, “Manifest Destiny”; Doo Yeon Kim and Rudolph Tanzi for their advances in Alzheimer’s research; Françoise Mouly, art editor of the New Yorker; and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the playwright and composer of Hamilton, a highly praised musical about the founding father.

After the honorees gather at the National Portrait Gallery for the ceremony, the celebration continues the next day with two additional events. On November 13 at 10 AM, Miranda visits the National Museum of American History for a sold-out discussion on how he created Hamilton and his process for writing the book, music, and lyrics. (Here’s hoping he also lays down some freestyle.)

In the evening, four honorees–Stern, Crosher, Kim, and Mouly–reconvene at the museum for a panel on what defines American ingenuity.

According to Smithsonian magazine editor-in-chief Michael Caruso, who created the awards in 2012 to celebrate contemporary American innovation, the event will see more growth in upcoming years. “It’s really what the Smithsonian is about–the celebration of ingenuity and intellect,” he says.