The signature blue, red and yellow suit worn by mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent wore as Superman is at the Ohio History Center, the headquarters of Ohio History Connection, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, thanks to a loan from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The suit, worn by actor George Reeves in the 1950s televeision show, is part of 1950s: Building the American Dream, a new exhibit at the History Center.
Let’s be honest; not everyone has the opportunity to visit the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. And not everyone may know that there is a Smithsonian Affiliate in their local community. But what if I told you one app is trying to do just that—help people discover Smithsonian Affiliates in their own neighborhoods?!
The Smithsonian Mobileapp is not only a digital guide to the Smithsonian in D.C., but it also helps visitors discover the nearest Smithsonian Affiliate in our network of more than 200 partners. “Smithsonian that Way” augmented reality (AR) uses your smart phone’s camera to show the broad reach of the Smithsonian. One filter shows Smithsonian museums. Another filter shows Smithsonian libraries and archives. A third layer shows a tiny sample of the vast amount of Smithsonian research taking place on the National Mall and beyond. And a final filter shows Smithsonian Affiliates, our partners bringing the Smithsonian to communities around the nation.
Each Affiliate location in the app gives an overview of the organization and links to the Smithsonian Affiliations website, where you can learn more about our Affiliate network or navigate to the Affiliate you are interested in visiting.
In the spirit of the Smithsonian Museums, which offer free admission every day, Museum Day Live! is an annual event hosted by Smithsonian magazine in which participating museums across the country open their doors to anyone presenting a Museum Day Live! ticket… for free.
We’ve compiled a list of exhibitions by region so you can see what is happening at Smithsonian Affiliates during Museum Day. Download your ticket today!
Click here to view the complete list of Smithsonian Affiliates participating this year.
Congrats to these Affiliates on their recent accomplishments:
Allied Arts announced more than $2.55 million will be distributed to various nonprofit arts organizations during fiscal year 2016. Among the top grantees are Science Museum Oklahoma (Oklahoma City) ($429,220).
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has pledged a three-year, $1 million grant to Union Station, Kansas City, Inc. (Kansas City, MO) to help expand the production of Maker Faire Kansas City.
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced 69 Our Town awards totaling nearly $5 million through the Our Town program, including $150,000 to the Anchorage Museum (Anchorage, AK) to support Polar Lab, a creative placemaking and artist engagement project.
The U.S. Department of Interior’s National Park Service has announced a $330,000 cooperative agreement to Lowell, Massachusetts, for continued work on a multi-modal transportation improvement project for the Lowell National Historical Park.
The federal grants from the Department of Natural Resources including $37,460 to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park (Fishers, IN) to repair and restore the 1823 Conner House at the Conner Prairie Museum.
A stingray touch tank and new historical exhibits are part of a planned $2.3 million expansion project at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium (Dubuque, IA). The new attractions are part of the museum’s “River of Innovation” project, a multi-faceted effort that will strive to connect science and technology with the history and culture of the Mississippi River. The museum was awarded a $468,000 Community Attraction and Tourism Grant through the Vision Iowa program in addition to a $250,000 contribution from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust to support the project.
The Hubbard Museum of the American West (Ruidoso Downs, NM) has received $7,500 grant from The Hubbard Foundation to support equipment for its interactive exhibits.
Dr. Pepper Snapple and national nonprofit KaBOOM! have awarded the Berkshire Museum (Pittsfield, MA) a $13,200 Let’s Play Improvement Grant to use toward the purchase of an Imagination Playground in a Cart, an innovative playground equipment system.
Achievements and Recognition
PACTV is a bronze winner in the 35th annual Telly Awards for its documentary short titled “Paddling Through History.” “Paddling Through History” is a documentary short about the importance of the traditional dugout boat, or mishoon, to the history of the Wampanoag People. This documentary was produced on behalf of the Wampanoag Indigenous Program (WIP) at Plimoth Plantation (Plimoth, MA).
Marietta Mullen, Director of Colonial Interpretive Training at Plimoth Plantation was selected to receive the Leadership in History Award of Merit, from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) for her exemplary achievement in reviving and preserving the story of Mayflower II.
Leadership and Staff Changes
The Irving Arts Center’s (Irving, TX) executive director Richard Huff has been chosen to receive one of the annual leadership awards of Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit that works to advance the arts and arts education across the country. Richard will receive the Selina Roberts Ottum Award, for outstanding contributions in the local arts agency field. Todd Eric Hawkins has been named the Center’s new executive director for Richard, who retires on July 31.
Amy Hollander has been named new executive director for The National Museum of Industrial History (Bethlehem, PA).
Space Center Houston (Houston, TX) has welcomed Tracy L. Lamm to the newly created position of chief operating officer in the midst of great growth for the nonprofit museum and education foundation.
MICHIGAN Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight exhibition from the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service opened at the Air Zoo in Portage, 7.4.
Dr. Jeremy Kinney of the National Air and Space Museum talks about the role of aeronautic innovation in western Pennsylvania during WWII.
Brittany Vernon, Coca Cola/IMLS Museum Studies Apprentice at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati spent a three-week externship at the Anacostia Community Museum, helping the education department plan for a teen docent program in Washington, 7.6-7.24.
The Ohio History Connection will host a webinar on Early Childhood Programming in the Museum featuring Betsy Bowers of the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, in Columbus, 8.5.
Dr. Jeremy Kinney, curator at the National Air and Space Museum, will give a public lecture on Innovating for Victory: How Pittsburgh Helped Win WWII lecture at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, 7.25.
The Center will also host the annual Pittsburgh’s Hidden Treasures:An Antiques Appraisal Show event, featuring Manda Kowalczyk, Preservation Specialist at the National Postal Museum, in Pittsburgh, 8.30.
NEW YORK The Long Island Museum opens Beth Levine: The First Lady of Shoes exhibition, featuring Levine’s portrait on loan from the National Portrait Gallery, in Stony Brook, 8.21.
SOUTH CAROLINA The Children’s Museum of the Upstatewill present Innoskate 2015 in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation in Greenville, 8.8.
The Chabot Space and Science Centerhosts ¡Descubra! Meet the Science Expert Family Day in collaboration with the Smithsonian Latino Center, in Oakland, 8.22.
Mary Savig, curator at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, will serve as a juror for the exhibition Finding our Place: The Geography of Art at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in Solomons, 8.24.
Skaters of all ages can learn innovative techniques at Innoskate in South Carolina.
Special thanks for this guest post to Amy Henderson, National Portrait Gallery’s historian emerita. Amy is a cultural historian specializing in “the lively arts”—particularly media-generated celebrity culture. Her books and exhibitions run the gamut from the pioneers in early broadcasting to Elvis Presley, Katharine Hepburn and Katharine Graham.
In the late 1980s, I met writer-director Garson Kanin at a Washington dinner party, and he set the stage for one of my happiest adventures as a cultural historian at the National Portrait Gallery. When I discovered that Garson, who wrote and directed all of the Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy movies, lived next door to Herself in New York, I whined until he promised to give me her address. My excuse? The Portrait Gallery needed a fine portrait of the iconic actress!
Garson’s introduction worked, and I got to know Miss Hepburn in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. I would have coffee and cookies with her when I traveled to New York, and we always went on an exploration of all the portraits she kept in her townhouse; there were a lot, since she had known artists her entire life.
She mentioned “all the costumes” on the upper floor, but I never got a glimpse. Now, thanks to the Durham Museum in Omaha, the costumes are on full view. “Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen” is drawn from the Kent State Museum’s Hepburn Costume Collection, and features more than 35 costumes worn in 21 films and 6 stage productions—and some of her private life clothes.
Mick Hale, Director of Education at the Durham, heard that I had curated a 2007 Portrait Gallery exhibition celebrating Hepburn’s centennial, and invited me to speak about her life in conjunction with the Durham’s costume show. I eagerly accepted, and spoke at this Smithsonian Affiliate in April. Talking about her life, I focused mainly on Hepburn’s remarkable ability to fashion her own image, even in the heyday of the Hollywood studio system when studios configured their stars to reflect their own particular movie “brand.” E.g., Warner Bros. had a “Murderers’ Row” of gangsters, while MGM boasted “all the stars in the heavens.”
The Durham has been a Smithsonian Affiliate since 2002, and Mick Hale estimates that they have hosted 25 or so traveling exhibitions such as the Hepburn costumes. Other recent speakers have included Mike Neufeld from the National Air and Space Museum, who spoke about the Apollo 8 mission during the Durham’s “1968” exhibition; and Smithsonian Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture, Richard Kurin, who shared his stories about 101 Smithsonian artifacts last Fall when the Durham hosted the Franklin Institute’s traveling exhibit “Identity: An Exhibition of You.”
My visit was enormous fun. First, the museum itself is lodged in what had been a stunning Art Deco train station that opened in 1931; lofty ceilings and a sense of bustle create an instantly uplifting “wow” museum experience. Second, for me it was great to see the costumes Hepburn wore during her long stage and screen career. Her waist was TINY—20”—and it was fascinating to see costumes from such landmark performances as the Broadway version of the Philadelphia Story. I also lingered over the section that spotlighted her impeccably tailored tan slacks, of which she had dozens.
My visit came at the end of Mick Hale’s tenure as education director at the Durham. After ten years, he is heading toward new challenges, directing a leadership initiative in Lincoln. But his dynamic partnership with the Smithsonian will remain firmly rooted at the Durham. “The museum and I are very proud of what we have done with the Smithsonian,” he told me, “and I know the quality work and collaboration will continue for a long time.”