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April 14, 2015

New Harmonies, New Opportunities at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Many thanks for this guest post to Rene Rodgers, Ph.D, Associate Curator at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Would you like to be a guest author? Contact us.

At the beginning of August 2014, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum (BCMM) in Bristol, TN/VA, opened its doors for the first time after several years of planning, fundraising, community support, and finally, exhibit design and construction. For everyone who had believed in the museum becoming a reality and worked so hard to make it happen, the grand opening weekend was a real thrill with staff and volunteers, local and regional supporters, and visitors from many states and even other countries, enjoying the museum’s exhibits, live music performances, and a vintage radio show recording.

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum at night. Photograph by Fresh Air Photo

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum at night. Photograph by Fresh Air Photo

Since that first day, we’ve had the excitement of opening our first special exhibit, the development of a variety of education and outreach programs, the opportunity to partner with other local museums and cultural organizations, media coverage from outlets such as National Geographic and The New York Times, and so much more. And as one of the oldest Smithsonian Affiliates with one of the newest museums, we’ve had the opportunity to see firsthand the resources and support that are possible through our link to the Smithsonian.

In fact, we saw our community benefit from that affiliation even before the museum opened. Back in 2012, we were able to offer “Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos,” an after-school astrophotography program for under-served middle school students using the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Micro-Observatory Telescope Network. This program gave these students access to resources and opportunities they might never have had otherwise, a truly significant benefit we were able to share with our community through the Smithsonian.

The New Harmonies crates arrive at BCMM. Birthplace of Country Music Museum

The New Harmonies crates arrive at BCMM. Birthplace of Country Music Museum

More recently, we have opened our first Smithsonian special exhibit – New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music. After its life as a Museum on Main Street (MoMS) traveling exhibit, New Harmonies has now found its permanent home at BCMM, something made possible through the hard work of our Smithsonian Affiliations National Outreach Manager Alma Douglas and Carol Harsh, Director of MoMS at the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

After several months of negotiating the many steps in the process, 19 huge crates arrived on a truck in January of this year. Unloading and unpacking each of the crates was like opening a treasure chest – each one revealing another piece in the exhibit puzzle: a panel about sacred music, a diddley bow, a flip panel about the Kingston Trio, an audio box, a banner.

In March, we prepared the special exhibits gallery for New Harmonies. Two days were spent with our volunteers figuring out how the panels fit together – using directional pictograms that made it a little bit like putting together IKEA furniture – and working out the best configuration of all the elements in the gallery. We also created some of our own elements to add to the space – a “woodshed” where visitors can watch short videos about how to play various instruments and then have a go themselves and a lounge area where records can be played on a retro record player.

Visitors enjoy the New Harmonies exhibit on its opening night at BCMM, March 2015. Photograph by Haley Hensley, Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Visitors enjoy the New Harmonies exhibit on its opening night at BCMM, March 2015. Photograph by Haley Hensley, Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Visitors enjoy the New Harmonies exhibit on its opening night at BCMM, March 2015. Photograph by Haley Hensley, Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Visitors enjoy the New Harmonies exhibit on its opening night at BCMM, March 2015. Photograph by Haley Hensley, Birthplace of Country Music Museum

BCMM’s core exhibits focus on the story of the 1927 Bristol Sessions, their role in the development of the commercial country music industry, and the impact of the 1927 recordings on American music. New Harmonies is a wonderful fit for our museum, and its exploration of the distinct cultural identities of American roots music allows us to extend our mission beyond the focus of our core exhibits. It has also proved a wonderful opportunity for developing interesting programming that will give us the chance to bring new audiences to the museum over the coming months – from screening films by Alan Lomax and a concert by Piedmont blues artist John Dee Holeman to a shape note sing and Native American music and dancing. We are also looking into the possibility of sharing this exhibit with smaller regional institutions, libraries, and schools in the future.

Smithsonian affiliation is a real honor, and we are proud to be a part of the affiliate network. More importantly, however, Smithsonian affiliation gives BCMM the chance to bring new exhibits, resources, programming, and so much more to our local community – a way to expand horizons and opportunities. We are excited about what the future will bring!

Visitors enjoy the New Harmonies exhibit on its opening night at BCMM, March 2015. Photograph by Haley Hensley, Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Visitors enjoy the New Harmonies exhibit on its opening night at BCMM, March 2015. Photograph by Haley Hensley, Birthplace of Country Music Museum

March 3, 2015

Using field trips to promote critical thinking

Many thanks to Dr. Jodi Kearns, Digital Projects Manager at the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology for this guest post.  The Cummings Center has been a Smithsonian Affiliate since 2002 and is located at the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio.

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The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology houses exhibition galleries and extensive archives at its site in Akron.

The mission of the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology (CCHP) is to promote the history of psychology and related human sciences to the broadest community possible. Integral to this mission is offering structured educational opportunities to empower critical thinking about primary source materials held in the CCHP archives. As such, CCHP staff set a goal to make field trips both effortless for local high school teachers and useful to their students in order to encourage teachers from any subject area to bring their classes to the CCHP Museum of Psychology, which exhibits artifacts and documents from the CCHP archives. Organized, well-planned field trips to museums and archives as structured, free-choice learning environments can foster learning experiences that are self-directed and hands-on (Kisiel, 2006). To gain a better understanding of teachers’ perspectives, CCHP staff sent a survey to all high school teachers in the Akron Public Schools in Akron, Ohio during Spring 2012. Results indicated that all of the responding teachers rated field trips as moderately to very important for student learning. When asked to rate the potential helpfulness of various field trip resources for teachers, they rated all the proposed resources—pre- and post-trip activities, onsite activities, learning objectives mapped to curriculum standards, and teacher’s guides to the exhibits—as very helpful.

Local teachers participate in a professional development workshop at CCHP.

Local teachers participate in a professional development workshop at CCHP.

In response to the local educational community’s need for focused field trips identified in the survey, CCHP staff held a free workshop in Fall 2013 for teachers interested in providing more in-depth perspectives of field trips and moderating CCHP staff lesson plan building. This collaborative partnership has resulted in robust three-part lesson plans adaptable to all high school grade levels and mapped to state and core academic content standards in mathematics, science, social studies, and language arts. Each lesson plan suggests activities and materials in which teachers can engage students before, during, and after the field trip. Upon lesson completion, students will have had hands-on engagement with archival materials spanning CCHP collections, including artifacts, photographs, films, rare books, and historical tests. The lesson plans are part of the complete Teachers Resource Package that also includes gallery maps, behavioral guidelines for visits within archives and museums, guides to gallery content, and chaperone guides with instructions for facilitating on-site dialogue around the student-guided gallery guides. Further, archival materials not on display in the public gallery have been placed in the CCHP’s online repository (OCLC’s CONTENTdm) where teachers can access supporting materials from their classrooms for before and after activities.

CCHP's new Measuring the Mind exhibition, funded in part by IMLS.

CCHP’s new Measuring the Mind exhibition, funded in part by IMLS.

This project is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Museums for America grant, which enabled the installation of a new interactive museum exhibit called Measuring the Mind to capture interest of high school (and other) visitors. Measuring the Mind features artifacts, tests, photographs, and film from CCHP collections and takes museum visitors through some history of testing aptitude, personality, intelligence, and interest.

If you would like to learn more about how to incorporate materials from the history of psychology into your lesson plans or professional development for teachers, or if you know a teacher who might be interested in using our resources, please contact ahap@uakron.edu for more information.

High school students on a field trip to CCHP marvel at the artifacts on view.

High school students on a field trip to CCHP marvel at the artifacts on view.

Kisiel, J. (2006). An examination of fieldtrip strategies and their implementation within a natural history museum. Science Education, 90 (3), 434-452.

 

An example of one of the project's new lesson plans.

An example of one of the project’s new lesson plans.

February 25, 2015

Brand New Exhibitions from SITES

Special thanks to our friends at SITES for this update.

SITES has been busy planning several new exhibits to meet the needs of our diverse host venues. Whether you are looking for a unique and affordable photography exhibit or an epic blockbuster, we’ve got the show for you. Here’s what’s new:

Apart_BikeV2_7x9Things Come Apart
Through extraordinary photographs, disassembled objects and fascinating videos, Things Come Apart reveals the inner workings of common, everyday possessions.  Images of dozens of objects explore how things are made and how technology has evolved over time.  For example, the exhibition juxtaposes the components of a record player, Walkman, and an iPod.  As a visual investigation of design and engineering, Things Come Apart celebrates classic examples of industrial design, technological innovation and more recent ideas about re-use.  The exhibition explores STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) concepts and provides an ideal environment for hands-on investigation.

Contents:  ~40 framed photographs, 4 disassembled objects, video content, and educational component
Fee:  $9,900 per 12-week slot plus outgoing shipping
Size:  200-250 running feet
Security:  Moderate

Tour begins: fall 2016

Contact:  Ed Liskey, liskeye@si.edu, 202.633.3142SWcostumeSITES

Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Warsand the Power of Costume
Presenting 60 of the finest hand-crafted costumes from the first six blockbuster Star Wars films, the exhibition uncovers the challenges, the intricate processes and the remarkable artistry of George Lucas, the concept artists and costume designers. Featured costumes include the robes of Jedi masters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker; the yak hair and mohair costume of the Wookiee Chewbacca; the elaborately detailed gowns of Queen Amidala, and many more of your favorite Star Wars characters. Learn more about Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen  here.

NARA-cars Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project
Modeled after the Farm Security Administration’s photography project of the 1930s and 40s, DOCUMERICA was launched in 1971 by the newly established U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to document the environmental troubles and triumphs across the country.  What emerged was a moving and textured portrait of America in a rapidly changing society. Includes  90 framed, color photographs and a video. Learn more about Searching for the Seventies here.

Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Backyard
From the beauty of postwar garden design to the history of the rise of the suburbs and the environmental movement, Patios & Pools is a groovy look back at how the mid-century backyard became an extension of the house: a “room” designed for relaxing, recreation, cooking, and entertaining. Featuring period photographs, retro advertisements, pop culture references, and influential landscape designs. Learn more Patios & Pools  here.5-farnham2

Looking to fill an opening in your calendar? These exhibitions are available for immediate booking:

IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas
Available: 7/25/15-10/4/15 (reduced fee:  $2,000) and 10/24/15-1/3/16

The Evolving Universe
Available: 10/3/15-1/31/16 and 2/20/16 to 5/15/16

Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Backyard
Available: 12/19/15-2/28/16

I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story
Available: 12/19/15 – 2/28/16 and 3/19/16 – 5/29/16

Contact us at sites_schedule@si.edu or 202-633-3140.

October 2, 2014

The car of tomorrow… today (at an Affiliate in Pennsylvania)

Smithsonian Affiliations would like to thank Nancy Gates, Director of Marketing & Publicity at the Antique Automobile Museum of America Museum in Hershey, PA for this guest post.

Photo courtesy of the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum

Image courtesy of the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum

The enthusiasm and creativity that propelled Preston Tucker and his vision for the Tucker automobile is something that has captured many hearts.   Now, an extensivethe world’s largest- collection of 3 Tucker vehicles and other Tucker automobilia have found their new home at the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum [AACAM] in Hershey, Pennsylvania from the David Cammack Collection.

Mr. Cammack, an avid Tucker collector, passed away in 2013 and provided his extensive Tucker Collection to the AACA Museum.  His desire was to have this collection open to the public, and the AACA Museum is honored to be the caretakers of this collection.

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A close-up look inside a Tucker automobile. Photo courtesy of the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum.

The Cammack collection includes three 1948 Tucker vehicles, the factory Tucker test chassis, thousands of engineering drawings and blueprints, original Tucker parts, several engines as well as other artifacts and displays.   The vehicles include Tucker #1001 – the first ‘production’ prototype; Tucker #1022; and Tucker #1026 – the only existing Tucker built with an automatic transmission.

A total of 51 Tuckers were built by hand in Chicago, of which 47 are known to still exist.  (Even the Smithsonian has one.) Preston Tucker and his story were detailed in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1988 film, Tucker: The Man and His Dream which certainly helped bolster the public’s intense fascination with the “Car of Tomorrow.”

The Tucker collection is being housed permanently in a dedicated 5,200 sq. ft. gallery that showcases the cars and chronicles Preston Tucker’s life and history.   AACAM will host a Grand Opening on October 8th to debut Phase 1 of the exhibit, and will continue to provide additional interactive elements to enhance the exhibit over time.

“The AACA Museum intends to educate our guests about Tucker’s process and determination to create something special,” stated Mark Lizewskie, Executive Director.   “We listened carefully to input from Mr. Cammack and his family, and we were quite pleased to learn that it mirrored our vision.  The end result needed to be something that would complement the stunning displays that are already on view throughout the Museum.  Being a permanent display, we knew the Cammack Tucker Gallery had to be fantastic right from the start.”

Preston Tucker’s family, including grandson John Jr. and great-grandsons Mike and Sean Tucker, has also endorsed the project, expressing their willingness to act as historical advisors.  Sean Tucker was elated to be a crucial part of the exhibit.  “The effort being put forth by the AACA Museum team in the presentation of the Cammack Tucker collection is not only an honor to the Tucker family but also to the man who had an amazing passion to preserve the history of the Tucker story,” exclaimed Sean Tucker.  “As a member of the Tucker family it is truly a privilege to serve as a historical advisor to this exciting endeavor.”

Take a drive through history!  Tickets for the grand opening are available by calling 717-566-7100 ext. 100 or online at http://www.aacamuseum.org/events/night-at-the-museum/.

Preston Tucker's business card.  Photo courtesy of the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum.

Preston Tucker’s business card. Photo courtesy of the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum.

 

Click here to read more about the Tucker in Smithsonian Magazine and to see a video with collector David Cammack.

April 17, 2014

adventures with affiliations!

Special thanks for this guest post to Rachel Brummond. Rachel interned with the Affiliations office this spring and helped us build our e-marketing for the Smithsonian Affiliations Membership Program. Rachel is wrapping up her Junior year at Luther College in Iowa with a Major in Management/Political Science. Many, many thanks for everything Rachel!

My Dream: Living in DC with the Smithsonian in one hand and the Capital in the other!

My Dream: Living in DC with the Smithsonian in one hand and the Capital in the other!

I have dreamt of being a part of the Smithsonian Institution since I was a little girl on her first vacation to Washington, D.C. After that, when others wanted to be princesses, ballerinas, firefighters and policemen, I wanted to grow up to be THE curator of THE Smithsonian Museum. Little did I know that the Smithsonian is actually a network of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoo, and nine research facilities, each with their own curators, directors, membership staff, and programs.  I also had no idea that the Smithsonian is a living organism that includes a nationwide partnership program that consists of more than 180 Affiliates in more than 40 states, Puerto Rico and Panama. That first trip marked the beginning of a remarkable journey to where I am today—an intern learning from the same organization that I ooh’d and ahh’d about as a child.

This spring I had the incredible opportunity to join the D.C. intern-pack as a membership communications intern at Smithsonian Affiliations, leading to some Seriously Amazing opportunities through the Smithsonian and specifically with the Affiliations office. I have visited countless museums, had private tours, attended share-fairs, and been thoroughly immersed in the culture and collaboration that the Smithsonian embodies. The Affiliations office has brought me a much better understanding of the nationwide partnerships that we facilitate, and of course has led to an extensive growth of my photo collection that documents my life in the nation’s capital!

Two of my favorite museums: The National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum!

Two of my favorite museums: The National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum!

Being an intern for the Smithsonian has been such a learning experience! Smithsonian curators and researchers have important and serious work to do, so it’s always fun to see a lighter side of their jobs from time to time. For instance, every April Fool’s day the National Museum of American History hosts a “conference on stuff” with a lighthearted theme for all Smithsonian staff and visitors. Harold Closter, director of our very own Affiliations office, emceed this year’s salt-themed event and had some very “punny” quips for the audience. It was so fun to see the Smithsonian staff operating in an off-the-cuff, fun, but still well-researched way! I was also encouraged to explore the Smithsonian in-between projects, so I took “museum Fridays” and went to discover as many Smithsonian museums as possible while I was here. I saw 12 of the 15 museums that are currently open and in D.C.—a considerable success that appeals to the learning buff in me!

One of the most memorable experiences was the arrival of The Nation’s T.Rex. To me, this loan really shows the amazing partnerships that the Smithsonian creates with Affiliates across the country. The Wankel T.rex was discovered in Montana and lived at the Museum of the Rockies, a fabulous Smithsonian Affiliate, for the past two decades. It was so fun to participate in the social media plan by crafting tweets to talk about the dino’s arrival and about its 50-year vacation to the National Museum of Natural History. What a fantastic way to outline the network and partnership program that the Affiliations office facilitates. I am so proud to have been a part of an Institution so committed to the increase and diffusion of knowledge—even if their audience doesn’t always live in the DC area.

That’s what the Affiliations office is all about, bringing the Smithsonian to people around the country in order to create access to the incredible collection of knowledge, artifacts, and amazing culture that embodies the Institution. It’s been an adventure to say the least, and I am so grateful that the Affiliations office was willing to have me as a part of their team!

Here it is! The Wankel T.Rex was one of my favorite projects. Special shout out to Museum of the Rockies!

Here it is! The Wankel T.Rex was one of my favorite projects. Special shout out to Museum of the Rockies!

March 6, 2014

Young Historians, Living Histories- Today’s Stop: Cleveland, OH!

Special thanks to Paula Lee, Smithsonian Affiliations intern, for this guest post. This is the fourth of a five-part blog series she is writing as part of the Young Historians, Living Histories (YHLH) collaboration with the Asian Pacific American Center and our Affiliate network.

Local Cleveland newspaper ad- how students were recruited!

Local Cleveland newspaper ad- how students were recruited!

In Cleveland, students began an early session of preliminary interviews because practice after-all makes perfect. Dr. John Grabowski, Senior Vice President of Research and Publications of Western Reserve Historical Center (Cleveland, OH), sought out partnership with local Asian Indian American community, the Asian Indian Heritage Project (AIHP).  WRHS and AIHP, having had a previous history of partnerships, rekindled their alliance and worked to produce an advertisement that was placed in two local newspapers, India International and The Lotus for recruits based off short essays. Six highly dedicated and intelligent youth from the Asian Indian community were selected to represent the Northeast Ohio population.

Read more about the students’ films at CAAM Fest here.

Interviews held inside the Western Reserve Historical Society Library utilizing the tall windows as natural lighting for filming

Interviews held inside the Western Reserve Historical Society Library utilizing the tall windows as natural lighting for filming

Students were paired and interviewed successful doctors, community leaders (founder of AIHP Mr. Paramijit Singh) and social workers gathering a riveting collection of stories in the duration of their hour-long interviews. The museum provided its Research Library to create a professional theme for the filming to take place, while interviewees dressed in traditional Indian clothing as a reminder of their culture in the midst of relocation and adaptation in America.  When they weren’t asking for help editing footage through Dr. Grabowski or Jane Mason, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, students would take the camcorders and complete the editing as home projects.  Each student dove into the project with such passion and enthusiasm, they even gathered at the museum on their own over Thanksgiving break to continue without pause!

In a follow up call with Marketing Assistant Alyssa Purvis, I was informed that that the AIHP held a banquet selling raffle tickets to raise funds for the next set of students eager to continue with the project having already received inquiries.

“The students are a huge driving force behind the continuation of this project; they keep meeting others within their community and wanting to preserve their stories.” Their efforts “have had a ripple effect, on their families and entire Indian community as a whole in Northeast Ohio.

Through all those involved in Young Historians, Living Histories, I amongst many others have had a chance to discover how proactive these youth are when it comes to using these community resources. It is amazing to see how well the youth are responding to this form of research and discovery.

As the Asian Indian Heritage Project mantra goes, we hope our accomplishments “Illuminate the Past, Light the Future”!

Dr. John Grabrowski Senior President of Marketing and Research and Jane Mason Vice President, with the 6 participating YHLH students

Dr. John Grabrowski Senior President of Marketing and Research and Jane Mason Vice President, with the 6 participating YHLH students

March 4, 2014

Young Historians, Living Histories- Today’s Stop: Honolulu, HI!

Special thanks to Paula Lee, Smithsonian Affiliations intern, for this guest post. This is the third of a five-part blog series she is writing as part of the Young Historians, Living Histories (YHLH) collaboration with the Asian Pacific American Center and our Affiliate network.

pa.2As we travel west to hear from our Affiliates at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor (Honolulu, HI) we take flight almost literally, with those who once navigated overseas when aerial travel was a rare and exciting introduction to history. Shauna Tonkin, Director of Education at the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, connects us with Curtis Joe, immediate nephew of Chinese-American aviator and stunt pilot, Tom Gunn and Pan Am Japanese-American flight attendants, Mae Takahashi and Aileen Sodetani.

Tonkin partnered with Chris Facuri, Digital Media Teacher at Aliamanu Middle School, enabling the oral histories collected and edited throughout the school year to be incorporated into students’ curriculum. Participating students in the class took a field trip to visit the museum to meet Joe, Sodetani and Takahashi, where the entire group received a historical tour before sitting down for interviews. The two flight attendants live locally in Honolulu while Joe flew out from San Francisco to be a part of this project. All were very appreciative and realized the value of sharing the experiences that they’ve endured with younger generations. In response, the interactions with the pioneers made the experiences and stories come alive for the students studying them, activating their interests and courage to solicit knowledgeable questions.

Ford Island, where the museum is located is in the middle of Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, HI. On December 7, 1941, Japanese aircraft led a surprise attack initiating World War II. This led to a hard time for both Americans and Asian Americans, because the following year over 150,000 Japanese were ordered into internment camps although 62% of them were American citizens.

“The program served to be education, dynamic and responsive due to the nature of its interactive learning environment” observed by cooperating teacher Chris Facuri. Sparking the curiosity and interests of the youth was an important experience for Tonkin as she empathized with the difficulties of 1st generation children and their journey towards finding homage and respect for their culture while adapting to American influence. Tonkin emphasizes that this collaboration has “instilled a greater appreciation for diversity and culture of the Asian American Pacific experience. The oral histories collected barely scratched the surface.” She said, revealing her excitement towards starting new projects.

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Students capture footage of Curtis’ interaction with youth of YHLH during a field trip tour to Pacific Aviation Museum

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Students take a tour of the museum to learn about Pacific Aviation history

 

Curtis Joe, nephew of Tom Gunn, Chinese Aviator of the Pacific Ocean sitting in for an interview

Curtis Joe, nephew of Tom Gunn, Chinese Aviator of the Pacific Ocean sharing the stories of his childhood

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Students take a tour of the museum to learn about Pacific Aviation history

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