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The Great Courses and the Smithsonian Release 'Experiencing America,' First Course from New Partnership
[August 27, 2014]

The Great Courses and the Smithsonian Release 'Experiencing America,' First Course from New Partnership

CHANTILLY, Va. --(Business Wire)--

The Great Courses, the nation's leading developer and marketer of premium-quality media for lifelong learning and personal enrichment, today released the 24-episode video series "Experiencing America," the first course from a new partnership with the Smithsonian Institution.

Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture for the Smithsonian, delivers the fascinating 12-hour narrative using iconic Smithsonian artifacts selected for their meaning and impact to America's rich history. The objects range from the earliest years of the country to the digital age, including the original flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen "The Star-Spangled Banner" - currently celebrating its 200th anniversary - George Washington's self-designed uniform, Dorothy's ruby slippers and Julia Child's kitchen.

"People are fascinated with the stories behind these objects, and Dr. Kurin paints an engrossing history of America using the Smithsonian's one-of-a-kind museum collection," said Ed Leon, chief brand officer at The Great Courses, which has been touted by Bill Gates (News - Alert) and David Gregory. "We're pleased to help extend the Institution's reach beyond its 30 million visits each year by examining the important historical context and cultural meaning of the nearly 100 objects featured."

One of the most moving moments in "Experiencing America" is when Dr. Kurin features relics recovered from the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The objects include a crash-scarred logbook owned by a flight attendant on one of the airliners; the crumpled door of a New York City fire engine; and a fireman's crowbar.

"When you're in intimate proximity to one of these objects, as I am now, you have a link to that sweeping history. History is not distant. It's not a stranger," said Dr. Kurin, who also is the author of numerous scholarly articles and several books. He has worked at the Smithsonian for almost four decades, beginning in 1976 - the U.S. Bicentennial.

On the heels of selling its 15 millionth course, The Great Courses signed an unprecedented 10-year agreement with the Smithsonian to create engaging educational content from its collections housed in 19 museums and nine research centers in Washington, D.C.

About The Great Courses

The Great Courses is the nation's leading developer and marketer of premium-quality media for lifelong learning and personal enrichment. Delivered in engaging, expertly produced video and audio (in convenient online, digital and disc formats), these carefully crafted courses provide access to a world of knowledge from the most accomplished professors and experts. The content-rich, proprietary library spans more than 500 titles with close to 7,000 hours and 13,000 lectures designed to expand horizons, deepen understanding and foster epiphanies in the arts, science, literature, self-improvement, history, music, philosophy, theology, economics, mathematics, business, professional advancement, personal growth and high school curriculum. Creating unique learning experiences since 1990, The Great Courses is the premier brand of The Teaching Company of Chantilly, Virginia, which is owned by Los Angeles-based Brentwood Associates. More information can be found at

About the Smithsonian

Since its founding in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution has been committed to inspiring generations through knowledge and discovery. The Smithsonian is the world's largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. There are 6,500 Smithsonian employees and 6,300 volunteers. There were 30 million visits to the Smithsonian in 2013. The total number of objects, works of art and specimens at the Smithsonian is estimated at nearly 137 million, including more than 126 million specimens and artifacts at the National Museum of Natural History.

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