September 15, 2015

Here’s what’s happening in your neighborhood in time for Smithsonian Museum Day

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.


Tampa Bay History Center (Tampa, Florida)

Florida’s Got the Blues
Augustine at 450: A Look at the Oldest European Settlement in the U.S.

Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History (Kennesaw, Georgia)

Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited

US Space and Rocket Center (Huntsville, Alabama)

Science Fiction, Science Future

Upcountry History Museum – Furman University (Greenville, South Carolina)

The Forgotten War: Korea 1950-1953

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Orange County Regional History Center (Orlando, Florida)

Long Way to the Top: Hard Rock in Orlando, 1972-1985

100 Historic Orlando Icons

The Museum of Arts and Sciences (Daytona Beach, Florida)

Septembers with the Smithsonian

Faces from the Past: Portraits from the MOAS Collection

John James Audubon: Prints from the MOAS Collection

Contemporary Paintings from the MOAS Collection



“Awkward Family Photos” at Peoria Riverfront Museum.

Peoria Riverfront Museum (Peoria, Illinois)

Awkward Family Photos: The Exhibition

Science Rocks! 2015

Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, Michigan)

Ten: The Exhibition




Museum of American Finance (New York, New York)

Legal Tender

America in Circulation

Long Island Museum (Stony Brook, New York)

Gilding the Coasts:  Art and Design of Long Island’s Great Estate Era

Beth Levine:  First Lady of Shoes

Young Island:  William Sidney Mount’s Scenes of Childhood

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture (Baltimore, MD)

Businessman First: Remembering Henry G. Parks, Jr.

Antique Automobile Club of America Museum (Hershey, Pennsylvania)


“A Family Affair: Station Wagons” at AACA.

A Family Affair:  Station Wagons

Motorbikes for the Masses

Back to the Future 30th Anniversary Tribute Car

1932 REO Royale

Cammack Tucker Collection (The World’s Largest Collection of Tucker Automobiles)

Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts at Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)



UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio, Texas)

Sikhs: Legacy of the Punjab

Our Part of Victory: Texas in World War II

Denver Art Museum (Denver, Colorado)

Fritz Scholder (1937-2005); "Indian and Contemporary Chair;" oil on linen; 1970; Smithsonian American Art Msueum, Gift of Judge and mrs. Oliver Seth. On view at the Denver Art museum.

Fritz Scholder (1937-2005); “Indian and Contemporary Chair;” oil on linen; 1970; Smithsonian American Art Msueum, Gift of Judge and mrs. Oliver Seth. On view at the Denver Art museum.

Super Indian: Fritz Scholder, 1967-1980

The Durham Museum (Omaha, Nebraska)

Omaha – Shizuoka: 50 Years of Friendship, 1965-2015

This May Hurt a Bit: Medicine in Old Omaha

Station to Station: KETV and the Burlington

Union Station: Built to Last

Montana Historical Society (Helena, Montana)

Our Forgotten Pioneers: The Chinese in Montana

Eloquence in Wood: The Art of John L. Clarke

New England

Pleiades Star Cluster Simone, 7th Grade, Indian Township School. Part of Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos at the Abbe Museum.

Pleiades Star Cluster
Simone, 7th Grade, Indian Township School. Part of Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos at the Abbe Museum.

Norwich University’s Sullivan Museum & History Center (Northfield, Vermont)

Women of Norwich: Trailblazers and Torchbearers

Abbe Museum (Bar Harbor, Maine)

Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos exhibition 

Coming Home

2015 Waponahki Student Art Show

Four Directions of Wabanaki Basketry

Layers of Time: Archaeology at the Abbe Museum


Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture (Seattle, Washington)

Titanoboa: Monster Snake 

The Anchorage Museum (Anchorage, Alaska)

Polar Night: Life and Light in the Dead of Night

"Home Field Advantage" at the Anchorage Museum.

“Home Field Advantage” at the Anchorage Museum.

City Limits

Florian Schulz: To the Arctic

Home Field Advantage: Baseball in the Far North

Vox Van


August 18, 2015

Starting a teen docent program

Special thanks to guest author Brittany Vernon, IMLS Apprentice at Ohio Affiliate, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, for this inspiring post.

Freedom Center Apprentice Brittany Vernon comes to Washington to work with education colleagues at the Anacostia Community Museum

Freedom Center Apprentice Brittany Vernon comes to Washington to work with education colleagues at the Anacostia Community Museum

As an emerging museum professional, my current position as an IMLS Apprentice at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, OH, is centered on learning as much as I can within the field while also gaining valuable work experience in my areas of interests. My passions are African American history and culture and public outreach to underrepresented people in museums, so the work that I do for the Freedom Center reflects that. As a co-leader of the museum’s Youth Docent Program, I get to reach out to local high school students, get them excited about what the Freedom Center offers through training seminars, and encourage them to volunteer as tour guides during their summer vacation. Yes, you read that right: teens + museum + volunteering + summer vacation – it seems impossible and certainly makes for a daunting task.  It is also one of the most rewarding projects because of the personal growth and development each student experiences throughout the course of the program once they’re hooked.

Now, when it came time to choose where I would spend my 3-week IMLS internship away from the Freedom Center, I wanted to choose a museum that was engaging in similar work. And for anyone with aspirations of working in the museum field, working in a Smithsonian museum in Washington D.C. represents the ultimate in education and museum leadership (besides being a total dream come true!). In picking a museum, I knew the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum [ACM] would be the perfect fit for me because of its focus on urban community issues and populations and its desire to engage teen audiences by starting a youth docent program.

Brittany models the kinds of tours that teens might give of ACM's How the Civil War Changed Washington exhibition.

Brittany models the kinds of tours that teens might give of ACM’s How the Civil War Changed Washington exhibition.

Using existing models including those at the Freedom Center and other Smithsonian Affiliate Museums, the ACM tasked me with creating a guide for a Youth Docent Program that they could implement in upcoming school years. After a week of research, tours and interviews with adult docents and Education staff at the ACM, I was ready to put together a plan. My proposed Youth Docent Program offers teens an opportunity to learn how to interpret museum content for the public and improve their own interpersonal skills and then earn community service hours by giving tours. Through monthly training sessions, teens learn about the content that the museum holds, and that it really is a place for them. Guest speakers and trips expose them to arts/culture-related career options.  Finally, through research and writing assignments, teens feel empowered by the knowledge they now hold and are able to share with the public.

The ACM is not alone in its struggle to get teens into its space.  Museums across the nation have trouble attracting and retaining the interest of teenagers that for the most part would rather be on their phones than walking through a museum.  But from my experiences, a youth docent program is the perfect first step in addressing the gap. When you “hook” teens with things they already enjoy like spending time with like-minded peers, social media, field trips, games and a guaranteed resume building opportunity, they are more willing to invest and learn a lot along the way. The end result is a group of teens that will advocate for your museum and encourage their family and friends to visit if not only to see the teens in action.

Bringing fresh and youthful voices into museum settings that are sometimes thought of as static and rigid only adds to the wealth of knowledge that institutions like this hold, and shows that museums really can serve a purpose for people from all stages and walks of life, which I am all about. I encourage every museum to start some form of teen outreach if they haven’t already.

Brittany passionately pursues African American history and culture, and issues of  freedom and social justice in her museum career.

Brittany passionately pursues African American history and culture, and issues of freedom and social justice in her museum career.

Now that I am back at the Freedom Center, I look forward to continuing my work with the Youth Docent Program with a new group of students this year. I also know that the new Youth Docent Program at the Anacostia Community Museum will be successful in its efforts to connect more with teenagers in the Anacostia neighborhood. Hopefully in a few years, it can evolve to serve as a model for peer institutions that may have similar goals.

Special thanks to IMLS, Smithsonian Affiliations, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center for giving me the opportunity to have this experience.







March 24, 2015

A First Look at New Traveling Exhibitions from the Smithsonian

singerAmong other benefits, Smithsonian Affiliates learn about new Smithsonian traveling exhibitions first!  We’re pleased to bring you two exciting new exhibitions that will travel.  The first, Armchair Archaeology: Paul Singer’s Search for Ancient China from the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery details the amazing story of collector Dr. Paul Singer, a psychiatrist by trade who amassed a wide-ranging Chinese art collection, now part of the Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian.

He collected most aggressively after he immigrated to the United States in 1939, making discoveries at art dealers, auction houses, and thrift stores alike. A self-taught, amateur scholar-collector who never learned the Chinese language, Singer managed to secure a research appointment at the Metropolitan Museum of Art due to his remarkable visual memory and extensive experience in the field.

singer2fsga The exhibition examines both archaeology and miniatures through topical groupings of objects dating from the Bronze  Age (circa 1800–300 BCE) to the Ming dynasty (1368–1644.)  In addition to exploring form, function, and meaning,  the ninety-five objects in the exhibition also represent a range of media, including jade, marble, fluorite, bone,  ivory, amber, gold, silver, bronze, and ceramics from earthenware to porcelain. This breadth reflects Singer’s  ambition to amass “a sequential development in all the materials worked by Chinese artists.”  For more information  and a pdf with an overview of the exhibition, Please email us.

BIG_11EDI_6621F310_13rz copy Across the Mall, from National Air and Space Museum, comes Art of the Airport Tower.  The exhibition is the  second to feature photographs from Museum Specialist, Carolyn Russo. The first, In Plane View, traveled to  many Affiliates over its multi-year run, and is currently on view at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum.  Both exhibitions feature stunning photographs of their subjects; Art of the Airport Tower shows these often overlooked utilitarian structures as beautiful art in our everyday lives.   It is a photographic journey to airports in the U.S. and around the world.
DXB_8150F2rz copy

Russo documents these important architectural structures to bring a heightened awareness to their simple beauty and call for their preservation.  She is available for lectures and public programs to venues hosting the exhibition.

Art of the Airport Tower includes historic towers such as the Ford Island Tower, which stood the day of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, as well as today’s heavily trafficked airports such as London’s Heathrow Airport. International towers–including several of the world’s tallest towers, one of which is the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand–are also highlighted. Captions describe the airport and the towers’ significance, and an introduction by F. Robert van der Linden tells the history of airport towers to contextualize Russo’s work.

This exhibit will attract a diverse audience, appealing to anyone with an interest in aviation, aerospace, art, photography, technology, history, culture, and architecture. Please let us know if you’re interested!


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,, 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 or 202-633-3140.

October 29, 2014

making the smithsonian-affiliate connection


Offering the Smithsonian Affiliate Membership is a great way to connect the Smithsonian and your local audience.

This year, Affiliates and the Smithsonian have worked together to develop the Smithsonian Affiliate Membership Toolbox. The Toolbox is a marketing package chock- full of Smithsonian resources and actionable ideas to make the connection between the Smithsonian and members.

What is the Toolbox?
In September, Smithsonian Affiliations launched the first annual Smithsonian Membership Drive and delivered the Toolbox to Affiliates.
The Toolbox includes:

  • Smithsonian media resources
  • Websites and program schedules from the Smithsonian to share with new and renewing members
  • Activities to engage visitors with Smithsonian loans, exhibitions and connect them through social media across the Affiliate network

SA_rack_card-Offering a Smithsonian Affiliate Membership as part of your organizational membership program is an exclusive benefit of a Smithsonian affiliation.

  • Exclusive Affiliate Benefit
    Are you one of the 100+ Affiliates attracting and renewing local members annually with the inclusion of the Smithsonian Affiliate membership in your museum’s membership package? Share the full list of Smithsonian Affiliate membership benefits with your audience.
  • Regional Ambassadors
    Affiliates are the Smithsonian’s regional ambassadors across the country – the Smithsonian looks to your organization to steward, engage, and renew joint Smithsonian – Affiliate members annually. Coordinate your Smithsonian programs and events with a Smithsonian Affiliate membership to bring added value to your membership package and build ongoing support.
  • Share your Smithsonian connection with your local members
    Your members may not make it to Washington, D.C., but can experience the Smithsonian at your organization. Joint benefits and programming make the link between the Smithsonian and your members.
  • Unique Membership Benefits
    Extend national benefits to your members who enjoy local benefits at your affiliated museum.

Want more information? Contact Christina DiMeglio Lopez, External Affairs Manager.

September 30, 2014

another way to bring the Smithsonian to your door

Dr. Kurin visited the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia in November 2013. Photo courtesy NMAJH.

Dr. Kurin visited the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia in November 2013. Photo courtesy NMAJH.

You may have caught him in an Affiliate neighborhood in the past year—he’s been to more than 8 Affiliates—or read his new book The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects. But did you know you can now learn from Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture anywhere you can download him?!

Based on Richard Kurin’s popular book, the Experiencing America course—the first in a new partnership between the Smithsonian and The Great Courses—reveals the stories behind iconic American artifacts, including President Abraham Lincoln’s hat, Dorothy’s ruby slippers, George Washington’s sword, Harriet Tubman’s hymnal and even the Space Shuttle Discovery. Eye-opening and thought-provoking lectures share surprising takes on both familiar objects and little-known artifacts of profound importance to American history.

“When you’re in intimate proximity to one of these objects…you have a link to that sweeping history. History is not distant. It’s not a stranger.” –Richard Kurin

We are always on the lookout for ways to bring engaging, educational content from the Smithsonian to Affiliate neighborhoods and are delighted that Dr. Kurin has visited so many Affiliate communities. This new collaboration with The Great Courses offers yet another way to experience the Smithsonian.

“It’s been a real treat visiting Smithsonian Affiliates and giving public talks about The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects as well as having quality time to visit with staff . The hospitality of our colleagues and the welcoming audiences have been uplifting. And everywhere I’ve been, from the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh to the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane, from the Polk Museum of Art in Florida to the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre, among others, I’ve connected Affiliate collections to Smithsonian icons, regional stories to national ones, generating a wonderful response.”

Dr. Kurin gives an animated talk at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh in March 2014.

Dr. Kurin gave an animated talk at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh in March 2014.

Affiliates interested in bringing Dr. Kurin to their communities should contact their Affiliations National Outreach Manager for more information.

Additional resources:

September 29, 2014

let’s source the crowds

While it may seem like a contemporary term, many museums, including the Smithsonian, have been using crowdsourcing as a strategy for years.  At the Smithsonian, we’ve been at it since 1849, when the first Secretary, Joseph Henry, used 150 weather observers all over the U.S. to contribute data, an activity that led to the formation of the National Weather Service.

The Smithsonian still sources the power of our audiences today on topics ranging from tree leaves and gardens to immigration and stories from rural America.  We’d love to hear from you!  Please contribute your voice, or let your visitors know, about the projects below.  Do you have a crowdsourcing initiative you’d like to share?  Let us know in the comments.

SI Transcription Center– Crowdsourcing transcriptions of primary source documents

Leafsnap – Crowdsourcing tree images for mobile app


crowdsourced image of kohlrabi growing in the garden of The Works, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Newark, Ohio.

Encyclopedia of Life – Crowdsourcing species-related media

Our American Journey (National Museum of American History) – Crowdsourcing oral histories of American experience of migration and immigration

Community of Gardens (Smithsonian Gardens)- Learn from the ways that gardens and gardeners of all backgrounds have shaped America’s landscape.

Agriculture Innovation and Heritage Archive (National Museum of American History) – Think about how transformations in American agriculture have affected you, your family, your community, and the environment.

Stories from Main Street  (Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service)– Crowdsourcing stories about rural America  –

Ask Smithsonian (Smithsonian Magazine) – Try to stump us with a question about anything.  Really, anything.

Will to Adorn (Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage) – Listen to and contribute your stories about the choices you make everyday when you dress for school, work, fun, or special occasions.

eMammal (National Museum of Natural History) – Work with researchers to document mammals using camera traps.

Finally, here’s a look at some spectacular online exhibitions created by crowdsourcing:

from the crowdsourced exhibition, A Day in the Life of Asian Pacific America

from the crowdsourced exhibition, A Day in the Life of Asian Pacific America

A Day in the Life of Asian Pacific America (Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center) – The first crowdsourced gallery of the Asian Pacific American experience around the world as lived on one day.

My Space Shuttle Memories (National Air and Space Museum) Did you ever see a space shuttle launch or land in person?

Portraits of Planet Ocean (National Museum of Natural History) – Stunning photo gallery of the world’s magnificent oceans by oceanographers and enthusiasts.



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