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September 28, 2011

At the Controls in your neighborhood

"At the Controls" exhibition at the Tellus Science Museum. Photo courtesy Eric Long.

Ever wondered what the cockpit looked like in Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis? Or what the viewpoint was inside the Wright brothers’ 1903 Flyer? Affiliates now have the opportunity to show their visitors an up-close view of some of the most famous cockpits in aviation history. At the Controls, an exhibition created from a book of the same title published by Eric Long and Mark Avino from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM), invites visitors to get a pilot’s point of view through 22 large-scale, color photographs. 

Originally a Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service traveling exhibition, At the Controls completed its five-year tour in 2009 and returned to NASM where it is now being offered exclusively to Affiliates at a special rate. Interested Smithsonian Affiliates will only be responsible for the cost of shipping and insurance – there is no participation fee.  “The exhibition offers a never before seen and very unique perspective of the history of cockpits from some of the world’s most impressive air and spacecraft,” said Long.  

"At the Controls" at Tellus Science Museum. Photo courtesy Eric Long.

The exhibition is currently on view at the Tellus Science Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Cartersville, Georgia, and will close on November 13, 2011, after which time it will be open for additional booking.  

The images are printed on flexible material which can be displayed on lightweight, freestanding structures or on exhibition walls.  Each photograph is labeled with aircraft information and details specific to each cockpit.  Some of the extraordinary aircraft included are the Wright brothers’ 1903 Flyer, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, Chuck Yeager’s Bell X-1 Glamorous Glennis, John Glenn’s  Mercury Friendship 7, Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, and the Space Shuttle Columbia. 

For more information on exhibition availability, please contact Smithsonian Affiliations National Outreach Manager, Caroline Mah, at mahc@si.edu or 202-633-5308. 

Exhibition Specifications: 

  • Contents: 22 large-format color digital images with text printed on flexible banner material, freestanding units
  • Size: 130 running feet
  • Crates: 3
  • Weight: 173 kg (382 lb.)
  • Estimated Shipping: For example, recent costs from Washington, D.C. to Cartersville, GA via Fed Ex were approximately $300.   Shipping prices will vary. 
  • Insurance Value: $22,000 ($1,000 per banner). Venues must have adequate general commercial liability insurance or be self-insured.
  • Space Requirements: minimum 700 sq ft.

**Affiliates are responsible for shipping and insurance costs.

 

A record-breaking sailplane of the 1930s, the Senior Albatross Falcon looks like an otherworldy life form.

 

September 14, 2011

Art, Community, and Culture on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Special thanks to Sharon Shaffer, Executive Director, Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, for this guest post.

Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art, Welcome Center

The Ohr O’Keefe Museum of Art (Gulfport, MS) tells three significant stories through its museum and collections. It is the museum design of Frank Gehry, the unparallelled collection of pottery by George Edgar Ohr, and the artifacts of freed slave and craftsman Pleasant Reed that tell important stories of culture and heritage in the Mississippi Coastal Region.

The Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (SEEC) partnered with the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art (OOMA) to bring these stories to area students through educational field guides, supported by an IMLS grant.  SEEC museum professionals–Sharon Shaffer, Betsy Bowers, and Anna Forgerson– authored the field guides, while OOMA professionals will vet, edit, and create the visual design for the materials.

The student field guides are specially designed for developmental levels (early elementary, upper elementary, middle school, and high school) with six individual experiences defined for each level.  Each set offers an introduction to the museum, an exploration of the work and life of George Ohr, Pleasant Reed, and Frank Gehry, and a culminating experience that looks at the intersection of these individuals.  The intens is to fully engage students to look, reflect, connect, relate, and imagine, in the galleries and then return to the classroom to extend learning with standards-based ideas provided in teacher’s guides.

"Blackberry Woman" by Richmond Barthe on loan to OOMA from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

A group of K-12 educators from local Mississippi schools serve on an educational planning committee and have offered an inside voice for the experiences crafted by SEEC educators.  They will also play a role in the two days of professional development that SEEC will lead at OOMA in January 2012.

Teachers are eager to begin using the new standards-based materials and the museum is excited to be able to serve area students through newly developed experiences that highlight the stories of their museum.  For all, particularly SEEC, this has been a labor of love… collaborating with exceptional museum professionals and dedicated classroom teachers to tell stories of Mississippi culture and heritage through the beauty of the museum.

December 22, 2010

naturalist center expands its branches

The York County Culture and Heritage Museums are on a roll! Just a few months ago, the Museum of York County celebrated its 60th Anniversary by opening its first Naturalist Center, modeled after the Smithsonian’s Naturalist Center. And just a few weeks ago, the they added a new museum, the Main Street Children’s Museum.

Naturalist Center.

The Museum of York County received assistance in developing the Naturalist Center from the manager of the Smithsonian’s Naturalist Center, Richard Efthim. The center provides a unique and engaging atmosphere for inquiry-based learning. It brings students, teachers, artists and others who are interested in natural history together with collections of objects, scientific equipment, technology, books and references.   The center is filled with taxidermy animals such as lions, Cape buffalo and a giraffe. In addition to a painstakingly detailed, wildlife-filled African plains recreation, visitors can touch more than 1,000 specimens such as the skulls of big cats and buffalo hooves.   Center Curator of Natural History, Steve Fields, encourages visitors to open drawers filled with fossils and other specimens and handle them for closer inspection.  Teachers are encouraged to bring their students to the center to apply their lesson plans using some of the specimens from the collection. The Naturalist Center at the Museum of York County provides a hands-on, discovery-based approach to learning using hundreds of natural history specimens, many of which are on view to the public for the first time. Participants may enjoy self-guided discovery and educational programs and handle mounted specimens, skins, skulls, rocks, minerals, and fossils from all corners of the globe.   

Main Street Children's Museum.

The new Main Street Children’s Museum opened to the public on December 2, 2010.  Smithsonian Affiliations’ Director, Harold Closter, was present to give remarks. The design of the Main Street Children’s Museum was inspired by the artworks of late local artist Vernon Grant.  The museum serves as a center for early childhood education, with a focus on infants to age 6.  Children are encouraged to utilize their creative and developmental skills through interactive exhibits and role-playing with audio and visual experiences. Some highlights of these exhibits include: an interactive Tree House, where children can climb to new heights; a Baby Pumpkin filled with toys and areas of seating; a Dress Up Vault, where children dress up in costumes and learn to role-play; a Sailing Ship, where children can engage in several sailing related activities; and lastly a Train Table with wooden building blocks and train sets to engage the future engineers!

The York County Culture and Heritage Museums’ activity with the Smithsonian doesn’t stop there. Now they are in the planning stages to build a new Records Center that will house the museum’s archives and collections. Latasha Richards, collections manager, will visit the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. to meet with staff at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery to learn more about space planning, organizing, and moving in January 2011. Check the Affiliate blog in January for a recap of her visit.

July 27, 2010

Goodbye Texas…Hello New York! The 10,000 Springs Pavilion is on the move

Special thanks to Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute Conservator Don Williams for this guest post.

Two weeks ago found me in Irving, Texas, along with Groopsters Bob Klein and Bill Ferguson from the Professional Refinisher’s Group (aka “Groop”), dismantling the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion at Smithsonian Affiliate, Irving Arts Center.  We’re packing it for travel to its next temporary home in Flushing, NY, at Affiliate, Flushing Town Hall. Thus far Groop members have donated over 75 man-days toward the installation and de-installation of the exhibit, which could not be accomplished otherwise. Here’s a peek at the de-installation:

The setting for the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion in the lobby of the Irving Arts Center was truly spectacular, exposing the magnificent artifact to tens of thousands of patrons.

Bill (l) and Bob (r) were real troopers. This was Bill's second rodeo with me, and Bob's fifth(!).

We were joined in our endeavor by the skilled and burly crew for the Irving Arts Center when it came time to handle the really heavy and awkward stuff.

The building crew for the Irving Arts Center was an amazingly helpful and professional group. The gigantic roof portions had to be hand carried a few hundred feet through the building to get reunited with the crates.

Not too surprisingly, it comes apart much faster than it goes together.

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

Bill got the honors this time of removing the impossibly ornate carved finial.

All packed up with somewhere to go.

 The project went smoothly and quickly.  I had allotted three full days of work, but we were done by late  afternoon of day two. It was truly a delight to spend productive time with these two Groop brothers and the fellowship it entailed.

Next stop is Flushing, New York, where the local logistics will require a sunrise Sunday beginning.  The exhibit will open October 16, 2010.

About the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion
The structure is a 1 to 5 model of the celebrated and intricate classic Chinese pavilion that stands within the Forbidden City in the heart of Beijing. The model of the pavilion was gifted to the Smithsonian by Dr. Chan Laiwa and the China Red Sandalwood Museum in Beijing. Dr. Chan founded the museum to preserve and perpetuate the ancient Chinese art of red sandalwood carving.

Made by Chinese artisans using traditional Chinese carving and fine furniture techniques, the model captures the beauty of the original pavilion, and is an outstanding example of traditional Chinese carving. Artisans at the China Red Sandalwood Museum constructed this model of red sandalwood, treasured for its dark glossy color and musty floral fragrance. No nails are used; the entire structure is put together with mortise-and-tenon joinery. Currently, nearly 60 percent of red sandalwood carvers are women. Red sandalwood was highly prized in imperial China, and was used to create intricately carved furniture and decorative objects. Because of the demand for this wood, the tree nearly disappeared in China – along with the art of carving it.

The Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion is one of the 20 or so structures that are part of the private pleasure grounds for two dynasties of Chinese emperors. The Imperial Garden of the Forbidden City was a retreat for the emperor and his family allowing quiet contemplation of nature and communion with the spiritual world. 

August 24, 2009

Smithsonian’s fireless locomotive moves to Baltimore

Filed under: Behind the Scenes,General,Image Gallery,You Heard It Here First — Tags: , — Jennifer Brundage @ 5:06 pm
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locomotive in Smithsonian storage, waiting for its trip to Baltimore

 

 The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History recently donated a vintage 1938 fireless steam locomotive to our Affiliate in Baltimore, the B & O Railroad Museum.  On August 18, Affiliations and Museum staff were on hand to document this dramatic move.

 The move took two days to complete.  One to rig the locomotive onto a palette inside the American History Museum’s storage facility, and another day to load it onto a truck, drive it to Baltimore, and unload it in the restoration shop of the B & O Museum. 

 

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a special forklift eases the locomotive out of storage. very slowly.

The locomotive was built by the Heisler Locomotive Works in Erie, Pennsylvania for the Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco) in 1938. Unlike other steam engines, this unique 35-ton locomotive did not need a fire to produce steam; instead it was filled with steam and superheated water from the power plant’s boilers under high pressure at temperatures around 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The locomotive was capable of operating by itself for approximately five hours on one charge of steam and superheated water.

 

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lifting the locomotive onto its ride, a flatbed truck

Bill Withuhn, Smithsonian Curator of Technology and Transportation, contacted the B&O Railroad Museum more than a year ago to begin negotiations for the transfer of the locomotive to Baltimore. “The fireless was a trusty workhorse locomotive; one that deserves to be on exhibition for its contributions to lighting Maryland and the nation’s capital. We are pleased to make possible this transfer to our affiliate.”

 

In the U.S., fireless locomotives ran exclusively on the networks of tracks located within the boundaries of some of the largest coal-fired power stations operated by utilities. The locomotive needed to remain close to the power plant in order to be recharged. An early example of green technology, the fireless steam locomotive emitted only steam vapor, unlike other locomotives which release smoke exhaust.


B&O Railroad Museum Executive Director, Courtney Wilson said, “This locomotive is a scarce type of railroad motive power not represented in our unparalleled collection of 19th and 20th century steam locomotives. It fills an important gap and we are extremely pleased to accept this gift from the Smithsonian.”
  
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we got alot of curious looks cruising on I-95

From 1938 until 1974 the Pepco locomotive operated at the Buzzard Point Power Station in Washington, D.C. hauling coal. From 1974 to 1978 it was used at the Potomac River Power Station in Alexandria, Virginia. In 1979 Pepco restored and donated the locomotive to the National Museum of American History’s Work and Industry collection where it has been in storage.  Until now. 

On October 15, the B & O will roll the fireless locomotive into its famous roundhouse to celebrate its 10th anniversary as a Smithsonian Affiliate.  There it will join other Smithsonian artifacts on loan to the Museum, including 50 models of historic locomotives and railway cars and the boiler from the first locomotive used in the Western Hemisphere, the Stourbridge Lion. 
rounding the corner to the back door of B & O's storage facility

rounding the corner to the back door of B & O's storage facility. almost there!

 

 

2 forklifts hold the locomotive in mid-air, while the flatbed truck drives out of the way.

2 forklifts hold the locomotive in mid-air, while the flatbed truck drives out of the way

easing it off its palette, a few inches at a time

easing it off its palette, a few inches at a time

hitting the rail!

hitting the rail!

See more photos in the Smithsonian Affiliates group pool on flickr.

 

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