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August 29, 2014

where the buffalo roam

On Saturday, August 30, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo will bring back the American bison in a new exhibit and habitat.  Zora and Wilma are not only beautiful animals, but they also serve as an important reminder about conservation and the Zoo’s inception. In 1887, American bison wandered the National Mall, helping to bring awareness to the endangerment of the species. Two years later, Congress passed legislation to found the National Zoo, celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

Bison roam around the Smithsonian Castle

Bison roam around the Smithsonian Castle, 1887-89

At Affiliations, we are wallowing in the excitement of welcoming these magnificent animals to Washington. So we decided to scan our herd of partners, to see where else the mighty American bison are roaming among Affiliate plains. We found a virtual stampede of bison content in Affiliateland!

- It seems appropriate to start in Wyoming, at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. After all, it was “Buffalo Bill” Cody who offered the Smithsonian a herd of 18 bison in 1888. Painfully, the gift had to be refused for lack of space on the National Mall.  But today, you can find plenty of bison material at the Buffalo Bill Center in Cody. The Center’s museums house an impressive collection of art depicting “Nature’s Cattle,” including beautiful Audubon prints as well as Native artifacts made from the bison, and natural history specimens.

"Scout" at the Durham Museum in Omaha.

“Scout” at the Durham Museum in Omaha

- It was a Nebraska rancher who donated the very first bison to the Smithsonian’s collection, so it seems natural to travel on to Omaha to visit “Scout,” the beloved bison on view at the Durham Museum. At 7 ½’ high and 10’ long, this magnificent specimen helps to tell the important story of the Midwest’s history with the bison. As part of their bison interpretation, the Durham Museum uses the online resource Tracking the Buffalo from the National Museum of American History. Go ahead – take the site’s interactive test to guess what you could make from all the parts of the animal.

-  Some bison though, were revered beyond all that they could provide for Native people. A white bison is extremely rare, appearing once in approximately five million births. For this reason, these animals are considered sacred and possess great spiritual power to Native and non-Native people alike. Given this extreme rarity, where could you ever see one now?! The Montana Historical Society in Helena displays “Big Medicine,” a white buffalo who died in 1959. With blue eyes, tan hooves, and a brown topknot, there’s still plenty of reasons to revere the beauty of this extraordinary specimen today.

"White Medicine" on view at the Montana Historical Society

“Big Medicine” on view at the Montana Historical Society

- As rare as Big Medicine is, perhaps no bison has the hometown spirit of “On the Wind,” the massive bronze bison who greets visitors to the History Colorado Center in Denver. He’s been seen wearing bandannas when the stock show comes to town, a Broncos jersey during football season, and even a bike helmet during the recent Pro Challenge cycling race through the state. He’s also an important reminder of the stories told inside the Center about the historic relationship between bison and the peoples of the West.

- To travel even further back in time, check out the archeological remains of a gigantic Ice Age bison at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Excavated from the Colorado Rockies, this iconic specimen and its neighbors represent one of the most significant fossil discoveries ever made in Colorado.  How gigantic was it?  Twice the size of a modern bison!  How do we know?  It had a horn spread more than 7’ wide (compared with the 2 ½’ spread of the modern buffalo).

HistoryCObison

“On the Wind” in Denver reflects the community

- If you’re finding it hard to imagine the size of a modern bison without actually seeing one, the South Dakota State Historical Society can help you out.  They’ve devised a fun 30-page coloring sheet called How Big is a Buffalo. Bison make quite an appearance in the Society’s education kits, which include objects, lesson plans, worksheets and ideas for additional activities. The Buffalo and Plains Indians, Lewis and Clark, and Archeology kits are just a few that explore all facets of this great American species.

- Lest you think the Affiliate bison only roam west of the Mississippi, think again.  The Mashantucket Pequot Museum in Connecticut is currently displaying The Bison: American Icon exhibition, which explores “the dramatic changes that occurred to the bison and its habitat, and to the people who depended on it for their daily existence.” At the end of September, the Museum invites visitors to take the Bison Challenge – an outdoor activity that will test your speed, strength, and senses against the performance of a bison.  Good luck!

Bison: American Icon exhibit on view at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum

The Bison: American Icon exhibit on view at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum

As the song goes, “oh give me a home… “  It’s gratifying to see how many Affiliate “homes” across America celebrate the iconic bison, and that the Smithsonian will soon provide two of them a home in the nation’s capital.

How does your museum interpret the mighty bison? (We’re looking at you Idaho and Oklahoma)  Tell us your stories!

 

(Footnote:  “bison” and “buffalo” are often used interchangeably.  Culturally this is correct; scientifically it is not.  Technically, bison and buffalo are not the same animal. Click here to compare their differences.)

 

buffalomeThe author is a National Outreach Manager in Smithsonian Affiliations, and a long-time buffalophile.

 

July 29, 2014

Need an Exhibition Now?

Filed under: Behind the Scenes,Exhibitions,General,Resources,You Heard It Here First — Laura Hansen @ 12:18 pm

Sometimes the best laid plans change. If you need to connect with new audiences, bring back regular visitors, or generate press coverage, the following traveling exhibitions, all with complete promotional , registrarial, and educational support, are available soon:

 X-ray Vision: Fish Inside Out

August 30 – November 23, 2014

wideamericanearth

 

I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story

September 20 – November 30, 2014 and

December 20, 2014 – March 1, 2015

 

Ramp It Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America

December 13, 2014 – February 8, 2015 and

February 28 – April 26, 2015

 

blackWings2

Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight     3/28/15 to 6/21/15

 

The Evolving Universe      4/25/15 to 7/5/15

 

Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964      6/6/15 to 8/16/15

If you are interested in booking or getting more information on any of these exhibitions, please consult SITES website at sites.si.edu or call 202.633.3140 or email sites_schedule@si.edu

July 27, 2014

coming up in Affiliateland in August 2014

The lazy end of summer is seeing no slowdown of activity in Affiliateland.  Get out there and experience some terrific Smithsonian programs in your neighborhood!

TENNESSEE
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum hosts its grand opening weekend with concerts, contests, exhibits and more in Bristol, 8.1-3.

MISSOURI
Union Station will open a satellite Spark!Lab, developed by the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, in Kansas City, 8.5.

FLORIDA
History Miami opens SITES American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music exhibition in Miami, 8.6.

Celia Cruz, Ricky Martin and Gloria Estefan, some of the artists featured in the American Sabor exhibit.

Celia Cruz, Ricky Martin and Gloria Estefan, some of the artists featured in the American Sabor exhibit.

CONNECTICUT
Hunt Hill Farm hosts two public programs by photography curator Shannon Perich from the National Museum of American History, who will discuss photography during the Civil War, and sign copies of the Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collections publication, in New Milford, 8.10

WASHINGTON
The Museum of History and Industry hosts Innoskate, a day-long celebration of skateboarding innovations, including demonstrations, clinics, and talks by skateboard artists in Seattle, 8.16.

SOUTH CAROLINA
The South Carolina State Museum will open Windows to New Worlds, a newly-expanded complex that includes a planetarium and 4-D theater in Columbia, 8.16.

 

blackWings2

PENNSYLVANIA
Antje Neumann, conservator at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, will participate in Pittsburgh’s Hidden Treasures at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, 8.17.

MARYLAND
Robbie Davis, Project Director for the Smithsonian’s Museums on Main Street will serve as a juror for Annmarie Garden‘s upcoming exhibition Feast Your Eyes: Food as Art in Solomons, 8.20.

ALABAMA

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center opens SITES Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight exhibition in Huntsville, 8.24.

WISCONSIN
The Kenosha Public Museum hosts a lecture on Mr. Lincoln’s Air Force: Civil War Ballooning on Both Sides of the Line by National Air and Space Museum curator Dr. Tom Crouch in Kenosha, 8.26.

 

 

April 28, 2014

sites corner: traveling exhibits in your neighborhood

Looking for an opportunity to highlight your status as a Smithsonian Affiliate? Consider hosting a traveling exhibition from SITES. Regardless of your museum’s size, budget, or discipline, there’s a SITES exhibition that’s just right for you. Here’s what’s new:

Brand New Exhibitions:

Dancers and musicians perform a Bollywood show at a restaurant in Jackson Heights. Queens, New York Photo by Preston Merchant

Dancers and musicians perform a Bollywood show at a restaurant in Jackson Heights. Queens, New York
Photo by Preston Merchant

Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation
Have your organization launch the national tour of Beyond Bollywood:  Indian Americans Shape the Nation! The opening slot is currently available from May 2 to June 12, 2015.  This slot includes Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May and will kick off the national tour of the traveling version of the Beyond Bollywood exhibition now on display through August 2015 at the National Museum of Natural History. Featuring a traveling trunk with typical Indian American possessions, an audio station that plays Indian American music, display thalis (plates) and wall-hung panels, Beyond Bollywood explores the rich history and vital contributions of Indian Americans in the U.S.  As one of America’s largest ethnic groups, Indian Americans’ historical influence and continuing impact on our nation’s politics, medicine, science, technology, culture and the arts are vibrantly documented in the exhibition.  Bring this inspirational American story to your community today. Get a peek in person at the Affiliations National Conference, June 23-24, 2014! Register today and get a special behind-the-scenes exhibition tour with the curator and learn how you can bring this exhibit to your neighborhood from SITES team members. Contact: Ed Liskey, 202-633-3142.

 

Photography by Gene Daniels, Escondido, California, April 1972. From the exhibition, Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project.

Photography by Gene Daniels, Escondido, California, April 1972. From the exhibition, Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project.

Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project
When we think of 1970s America, bell-bottoms, disco dancing, and other popular cultural references immediately come to mind. But the decade was also a time of great social change for our country, from political scandal and protests to energy crises and suburban sprawl. The DOCUMERICA project was launched in 1971 by the newly established U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a way to record the country’s environmental troubles and triumphs. About 70 photographers including Flip Shulke, John Corn, Danny Lyon, John H. White, and Lyntha Scott Eiler shot close to 16,000 photographs between 1972 and 1977. DOCUMERICA evolved to include much more than environmental issues – it also captured powerful moments of everyday life for Americans across the country.

This exhibition with wide appeal features 90 carefully chosen, framed color photographs organized into three sections named for popular songs of the era like “Ball of Confusion”, which highlights the tumultuous issues of the day. Text panels, labels, and a short video complete the exhibition experience, and venues are encouraged to draw a local connection to the content by supplementing from their own collections. Searching for the Seventies

is a collaboration of SITES and the National Archives and Records Administration which now holds the original DOCUMERICA photographic materials and records. Tour begins February 2015. Contact: Minnie Russell, 202-633-3160.

Have an opening in your exhibition schedule? These offerings are available in the coming year and are ready for immediate booking:
Mail Call
Organized with the Smithsonian’s Postal Museum, this is the fascinating story of military mail and communication – from the American Revolution to the current war in Afghanistan. Available: August 9 – October 19, 2014

X-Ray Vision: Fish Inside Out
Features 40 stunning black-and-white digital prints (radiographs) of specimens from the Smithsonian’s National Collection of Fishes selected to highlight evolutionary development and fish anatomy. Available: August 30- November 23, 2014

 

Laura Kina, “Issei,” 2011.

Laura Kina, “Issei,” 2011.

I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story
Rich with compelling, often surprising stories, this is a sweeping look at the history of Asian Pacific Americans in this country, from the very first Asian immigrants to the influx of highly skilled workers many decades later. Available: September 20 – November 30, 2014 and December 20, 2014 – March 1, 2015

Ramp It Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America
This object-based exhibition reveals the thriving skateboard subculture in Indian communities. An ideal choice if you’re looking to engage young audiences. Available: December 13, 2014 – February 8, 2015

 

B. McLeod (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA)

B. McLeod (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA)

The Evolving Universe
Through amazing, large-format photographs, visitors can travel through time and learn how Smithsonian scientists study space, from our solar system to the edge of the universe.  Available:  January 24 – April 5, 2015 and April 25 – July 5, 2015

IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas
Explore historical and contemporary stories of peoples and communities whose shared histories are woven into the fabric of American identity but whose presence has long been invisible to many in our country. Available: July 25 – October 4, 2015

Green Revolution
We provide the design files and YOU build and fabricate the exhibition using old and repurposed items, all in keeping with the “green” themes of the exhibition like renewable energy and climate change. Venues determine their own display dates.

April 1, 2014

Batter Up! It’s Opening Day in Affiliateland

“Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don’t care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game!”

Opening Day is a state of mind. Countless baseball fans recognize this unofficial holiday as a good reason to call in sick at work or be truant from school and go out to the ballpark for the first of the regular season games. Now, we’re not suggesting playing hooky or skipping school by any means, but if you can’t make it to the ballpark, catch some baseball history at the Smithsonian or in your own neighborhood at one of these Smithsonian Affiliates.

Photo courtesy South Dakota State Historical Society.

Photo courtesy South Dakota State Historical Society.

At the South Dakota State Historical Society (Pierre, SD)
Thanks to a donation from Aberdeen native Paul Gertsen, a collection of Northern League (1900-1971) baseball materials showcasing the history of baseball in South Dakota will open soon. “The Northern League was the highest level of professional baseball in South Dakota, and an important minor league system in the upper Midwest. So many great players were on those teams, such as Hank Aaron, Jim Palmer, Lou Brock and Willie Stargell. The league’s history is rich, and its South Dakota roots run deep. I am proud that the society is now home to the most complete and definitive collection of Northern League materials in existence. It is truly an honor to accept this collection, and it is very exciting for anyone interested in the history of South Dakota baseball,” commented Dan Brosz, curator of collections at the Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society. Contact Jay Smith, Museum Director for more info 605.773.3798.

Sheet music for “Take Me Out to the Ball-Game” by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer, 1908 Courtesy of Andy Strasberg

At NMAJH, sheet music for “Take Me Out to the Ball-Game” by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer, 1908
Courtesy of Andy Strasberg

At the National Museum of American Jewish History (Philadelphia, PA)
Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American is on view through October 2014. The exhibition displays the central role baseball has played in the lives of American minority communities as they sought to understand and express the ideals, culture, and behaviors of their homeland—or challenge them. Programs for this show include talks with ESPN and major league baseball historians, and a summer film series featuring baseball.

The 1960s World Series display at the Senator John Heinz History Center. Photo courtesy of the Center.

The 1960s World Series display at the Senator John Heinz History Center. Photo courtesy of the Center.

At the Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, PA)
The Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center will showcase artifacts from one of the greatest moments in sports history through May 1– Mazeroski Artifacts from the 1960 World Series. Fans will enjoy Mazeroski’s Pirates uniform and bronzed 35-inch Louisville Slugger bat accompanied by additional items from 1960, including the pitching rubber and first base from Game 7, shortstop Dick Groat’s jersey from his 1960 Most Valuable Player season, and a life-like museum figure of Mazeroski hitting the legendary home run.

Photo courtesy Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Photo courtesy Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Champaign, IL)
The Rare Book & Manuscript Library has made a number of important book and manuscript additions over the past few years. Babylon to Baseball: Recent Additions to the Rare Book & Manuscript Library will showcase over thirty new pieces. Collections and items to be highlighted range from a 4000 year old Babylonian clay tablet to scarce baseball reference works once owned by the American League President’s Office.

At the Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, California)
Dodgers: Brotherhood of the Game, on view March 29- September 14, explores the team’s storied past through four players and a Hall of Fame manager, each of whom made history in his own right: Jackie Robinson, Fernando Valenzuela, Chan Ho Park, Hideo Nomo, and Tommy Lasorda. From their original roots in Brooklyn to today’s home in Los Angeles, the Dodgers are trailblazers in the world of sports, on and off the field. The franchise is dedicated to supporting a culture of winning baseball, providing a first-class, family-friendly experience at Dodger Stadium and maintaining strong partnerships in the community.

Our amazing intern, Rachel, checking out baseball history at the National Museum of American History.

Our amazing intern, Rachel, checking out baseball history at the National Museum of American History.

At the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History
Baseball history can be seen throughout the American History Museum. Here you can see a WWII Secret Compartment Baseball (1942). In WWII, the U.S. Military Intelligence Service created “care packages” with the intent of assisting Allied prisoners’ escapes from enemy containment. Baseballs were often used to smuggle in different items to the prisoners through secret compartments. Before Jackie Robinson rocked the baseball world by becoming the first integrated baseball player in history, African Americans played in separate leagues. On view also in the American Stories exhibit is a Negro Leagues Baseball (1920-1945), signed by players of the Negro Leagues, which drew millions of fans during their height.

Newkirk High School Tigers. Photo by Oklahoma Humanities Council, Newkirk, OK.

Newkirk High School Tigers. Photo by Oklahoma Humanities Council, Newkirk, OK.

Through Museums on Main Street at the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and possibly coming to a small town near you—Hometown Teams. Hometown Teams tells the story of sports as an indelible part of our culture and community. For well over one hundred years sports have reflected the trials and triumphs of the American experience and helped shape our national character. Whether it’s professional sports, or those played on the collegiate or scholastic level, amateur sports or sports played by kids on the local playground, the plain fact is sports are everywhere in America. Our love of sports begins in our hometowns–on the sandlot, at the local ball field, in the street, even. Americans play sports everywhere.

And last but not least, the exhibition may not be on the road anymore, but you can still view Beyond Baseball: The Life of Roberto Clemente through an online exhibition from SITES, based on an original exhibition from the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, a Smithsonian Affiliate. Clemente was born in the summer of 1934 in a house of concrete and wood on an old country road in Barrio San Antón, Carolina, Puerto Rico. He died on December 31, 1972, in a plane crash a few miles from his birthplace while attempting to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. In his thirty-eight years, RobertoClemente became a baseball legend in the United States, but in his homeland and throughout Latin America he became a national and cultural icon.

Do you know of baseball exhibits at Smithsonian Affiliates in your hometown? Let us know! Email us or tweet us @SIAffiliates and share your baseball stories!

February 25, 2014

Take Off with Shuttle Programs

The era of the space shuttle may have drawn to a close, but shuttles are finding new life in education at museums across the country. The retirement of the shuttle fleet presents unique educational and collaborative opportunities for a greater community of organizations to explore space history through STEM programs.

The Smithsonian and Smithsonian Affiliations community represent, in collections and educational programs, the entirety of the U.S. Space Shuttle Program, from its inception, through the history of its flights, to the commemoration of its triumphs and tragedies.  The National Air and Space Museum is home to Discovery, Smithsonian Affiliates California Science Center hosts Endeavour, and The Museum of Flight displays a full scale test shuttle to its visitors.  Several more Affiliates have significant collections related to the shuttle program; five are home to Challenger Learning Centers.

As so many Affiliates are working to interpret space history and the shuttle program, we’re facilitating projects to bring this group together to encourage sharing information and materials. To begin, we’re hosting a session at the Mutual Concerns of Air and Space Museums conference, April 11-14, 2014. In this session, three museums will present case studies demonstrating unique exhibition and educational plans for the retired space shuttle fleet with the goal of sharing experiences and resources that would benefit other museums interested in using the space shuttle program in their educational offerings.

California Science Center will discuss plans for the new facility that will house Endeavour and the immersive experiences intended to encourage creativity and innovation. The Museum of Flight will share the hands-on experience (not possible with decommissioned orbiters) that visitors have when they climb into the three-story full-body trainer at the museum. The National Air and Space Museum will talk about the installation and exhibition of Discovery at the Udvar-Hazy Center. We hope a lively discussion at Mutual Concerns will lead us to future collaborations. We’d like to hear our Affiliates ideas on how to connect: should we support a trip to Washington or connect digitally? Is this a topic that would resonate with museum visitors or spark imaginative school programming? Please contact us to take part, or join us June 23-25, 2014 at the Smithsonian Affiliations conference to continue the discussion.

January 28, 2014

coming up in Affiliateland in February 2014

It may be chilly across the country, but the temperature is not stopping Affiliates from offering great programming in February!

NATIONWIDEnational_youth_summit
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, 12 Affiliates will join the National Museum of American History to hold a National Youth Summit, linking high school students across the U.S. in an engaging program on the history and legacy of the 1964 youth-led effort for voting rights and education, 2.5.

Participating Affiliates include:
African American Museum & National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, PA
American Jazz Museum, Kansas City, MO
Arab American National Museum, Dearborn, MI
History Colorado  Center, Denver, CO
Institute of Texan Cultures, San Antonio, TX
Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, CA
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, OH
Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma City, OK
Senator John Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, OH
North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh, NC

NEBRASKA

The Durham Museum opens The 1968 Exhibit featuring three Apollo 8 artifacts from the National Air and Space Museum, in Omaha, 2.8.

snakeThe University of Nebraska State Museum opens the Titanoboa: Monster Snake exhibition (SITES) in Lincoln, 2.22.
IOWA
The Putnam Museum opens Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964 (SITES) in Davenport, 2.15.

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