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April 30, 2010

smithsonian jazz comes to omaha

Thanks to the Durham Museum’s distance learning coordinator Mike Irwin for this guest post. 

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra performing at the Durham Museum.

Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra performing at the Durham Museum.

It was late afternoon and the current visitors at the Durham Museum began to filter out, replaced by Jazz enthusiasts of all ages ready for a concert to remember. They were here to be entertained (and educated) by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra (SJMO).  They certainly got what they came for!

Jazz at the Durham Museum in Omaha Nebraska? Three years ago the Durham began celebrating Jazz Appreciation Month and the interest from the community has been tremendous. Mick Hale, director of education at the Durham stated, “As a proud Affiliate of the Smithsonian we are always looking for ways to expand our relationship with the Smithsonian and to provide our community with access to great programs such as the jazz appreciation program provided by the SJMO. ”

Durham Museum's Executive Director Christi Jannsen with SJMO's Artistic and Musical Director David Baker

Durham Museum's Executive Director Christi Janssen with SJMO's Artistic and Musical Director Dr. David N. Baker

The community offering began with an evening performance at the Holland Performing Arts Center by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.  The evening opened with a special lecture by Dr. David N. Baker, the orchestra’s artistic and musical director, followed by a big band jazz performance.

The two-day “on-site” schedule was extensive, taking the SJMO to schools around the Omaha area for two and a half hour workshops connecting with over 400 students from eight high schools, two junior highs, and two colleges.

Dr. David Baker warming-up the crowd at the Durham Museum.

Dr. David N. Baker warming-up the crowd at the Durham Museum.

SJMO unpacked and set up for their final public performance at the Durham Museum’s Stanley and Dorothy Truhlsen Lecture Hall.  The setting for the performance couldn’t have been more appropriate. The Durham Museum, formally a grand train station, was built in 1931 with a strong Art Deco influence. Thousands of passengers passed though the doors each day during the station’s operation.  Today when you walk through the Great Hall you can almost hear a Count Basie or Duke Ellington melody. When all were seated and the lights went down, Dr. Baker began the evening with an engaging brief history of Jazz highlighting the great musicians and their contribution to this American musical phenomena. His low-key, humorous overview put the mid-western audience at ease and ready for a great jazz performance.

SJMO alto saxophonist Scott Silbert ‘s narration sprinkled between songs citing little know facts and tips on what to add to your jazz collection only added to the overall interest in the musical selection of iconic jazz tunes.

As one participant commented in an e-mail about the night, “Needless to say a fun time was had by all…and everyone was tapping their feet to the music all evening.  I’m still tapping my feet this morning!”

SJMO performing for guests at the Durham Museum.

SJMO performing for guests at the Durham Museum.

April 27, 2010

flying toward success: a collaborative approach to designing 1859 balloon voyage at conner prairie

Thanks to Conner Prairie’s General Manager for Experience Delivery, David Allison,  for this guest post.  

Winner, 2009 Pinnacle Award for “Best Of Show” for the 1859 Balloon Voyage Exhibit Launch.

The biggest news at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park north of Indianapolis in the last year was the debut of our new 1859 Balloon Voyage experience. This project has been highly successful and highly popular for our guests. We had over 21,000 people fly to 400 feet in our balloon last year as we told the story of John Wise’s airmail journey through interactive exhibits and engaging storytelling. As project manager for the contenballoont and operations of the balloon, people often ask me how we were able to blend the modern balloon experience with the unique Indiana story of the first airmail flight. As we delved deeper into John Wise’s story, we realized that we were going to need to consult with experts in the field of aviation history. One of our first official meetings about the balloon project involved the world’s authority on the history of ballooning in America- Dr. Tom Crouch, the chief curator of aeronautics at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington. His expertise helped to guide the stories that we told through our exhibits to keep us firmly “grounded” in the history of aviation. Additionally, he explained to us how America’s fascination with flight in the 19th century led to the excitement surrounding John Wise’s flight from Lafayette, IN, in 1859. 

balloon2

Tom Crouch then joined us for the debut of the exhibit in June as a keynote speaker. Our on-going relationship with Dr. Crouch (and the Smithsonian network of museums in general through our new Smithsonian Affiliation) led us to finding out about an annual Air and Space Museum conference that is held in Washington DC. This year, myself (Dave Allison, General Manager for Experience Delivery) and BJ Sullivan (Chief Pilot for 1859 Balloon Voyage) attended the Mutual Concerns conference in DC in late March to share with other Air and Space Museum professionals from around the country how Conner Prairie designed and developed our cutting-edge fusion ofballoon3 a modern-day thrill ride (the balloon) with an age-old historical story about Indiana’s past. This nexus of an exciting experience grounded in the reality of a unique Indiana story is the heart of Conner Prairie’s mission to “inspire curiosity and foster learning about Indiana’s past by providing engaging, individualized and unique experiences”.

Photos courtesy Conner Prairie.

April 26, 2010

conference extra! FREE mobile media workshops for Affiliates

mobile-learning-instituteThe Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies (SCEMS), with sponsorship from Pearson Foundation and Nokia, is offering free mobile media learning workshops June 16- 18, 2010 after the Affiliations National Conference.  Affiliates are the first to have the opportunity to sign up to attend these free day-long mobile media learning workshops.  Extend your conference stay with these bonus workshops!

Click here to register

Leadership Summit Digital Media
Wednesday, June 16
10 am to 4:00 pm
Free to Affiliates 

The summit brings leaders in digital media together with school and museum decision makers. Participants will explore current research and effective practices in the educational use of social networks, cell phones, and social-media-based games and applications.  They will engage in digital media activities, view short media presentations, and discuss digital media in their own context and its potential to bring new life to learning.

Mobile Learning Workshop
Thursday, June 17, and Friday, June 18
10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Free to Affiliates

Learn to use digital media to engage young people with the tools they are already using in their lives outside of school. You’ll create media projects based on Smithsonian resources-digital tours, podcasts, wikis, and more. During the workshops, participants will collaborate with content experts from the Smithsonian and digital media experts from Pearson Foundation and Nokia to create new approaches for reaching today’s students.  The programs will make it possible to test and share how to use mobile technology in a museum setting.

April 23, 2010

you could be our next visiting professional!

 

Katey Ahmann at the National Postal Museum.

Katey Ahmann at the National Postal Museum.

Twice a year, Affiliate staff members have the unique opportunity to work alongside SI experts for research and hands-on training through our Visiting Professional Program.  Affiliations was delighted to welcome  six Affiliate staff members for the fall 2009 and spring 2010 programs.  Here’s  a taste of what past visiting professionals experienced to inspire you to apply!    

 

In October 2009, Katey Ahmann from the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences spent a month working in the Smithsonian’s Office of Policy and Analysis where she conducted visitor evaluation studies at the National Postal Museum. She learned  strategies for interpreting the data through observation and discussions with other visiting residents.  

Lee Goodan at the National Museum of Natural History

Lee Goodan at the National Museum of Natural History

 

 

Also in the fall, Lee Goodan, from the Charlotte Museum of History, spent three-weeks working among four Smithsonian divisions—the Spark!Lab at the National Museum of American History (NMAH), Discovery Center at the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air & Space Museum, and Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center. Lee learned how young visitors were using exploratory spaces at the Smithsonian and how the educators were using the galleries in a larger educational context.   This will help Lee as the Charlotte Museum develops plans to create a new Hands-on History Room, an interactive area for early Pre-K students.

 

Eric Stanley at the National Museum of American History.

Eric Stanley (left) at the National Museum of American History.

Joining us in February 2009 from the Sonoma County Museum, Eric Stanley worked with the staff at NMAH to learn about the development, research, and design phases of exhibitions, as he looks forward to planning expanded history galleries at the museum. Eric said, “It was a tremendous opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look and broad overview of a world-class history museum. I also cannot say enough about the individuals I met, the insights they shared, and the lasting connections I made. In addition to what I learned about exhibitions, I also came away with a richer sense of the possibilities that exist through the Affiliates program.”

 

Chena Popper in the Gems & Minerals department at NMNH.

Chena Popper in the Gems & Minerals department at NMNH.

 

 

 

Chena Popper, from the San Diego Natural History Museum just wrapped-up her visiting professional program in mid-April. Chena had the opportunity to work directly with the ten SI artifacts that are being loaned to her Museum for their All that Glitters: the Splendor & Science of Gems & Minerals exhibition opening May 15, 2010.    Working directly with experts at NMNH, Chena worked in the gem collection to help prepare the gems and jewelry which will be displayed at her Museum.  In addition to working directly with the artifacts, Chena also spent two-weeks in the registrar’s office at NMNH learning all the methods of care and registration for incoming and outgoing loans. 

 

And starting soon, Juan Carlos Lopez, a curator from the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, will be researching collections across the Smithsonian that pertain to Puerto Rican and Latino fine art.  Supported by a grant from the Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Pool, Juan Carlos plans to develop an exhibition that explores the progression of Latin art from 1960- 1990, among other potential topics. Check back in the coming weeks as we blog about his experience!

 

Don’t forget the fall 2010 deadline for applications is June 4!  For more information and program guidelines, contact Elizabeth Bugbee, (202) 633.5304.

April 22, 2010

Affiliates, take note… grant opportunities

The Save America’s Treasures program offers grants for preservation and/or conservation work on nationally significant intellectual and cultural artifacts and historic structures and sites. Intellectual and cultural artifacts include objects, collections, documents, sculpture, and works of art. Historic structures and sites include districts, buildings, areas, and structures.

  • Grants are awarded through a competitive matching grant program. The program is administered by the National Park Service. A dollar-for-dollar, non-Federal match is required. The minimum grant request for collections projects is $25,000 Federal share; the minimum grant request for historic property projects is $125,000 Federal share. The maximum grant request for all projects is $700,000 Federal share. The deadline for proposal submission is May 21, 2010.

The Council on Library and Information Resources, an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to expand access to information, however recorded and preserved, has opened the pre-proposal application period for its Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant program.

  • The program will award funds to institutions (including historical associations and societies as well as archives, museums, libraries, and other cultural heritage organizations) holding collections of high scholarly value that are difficult or impossible to locate through existing finding aids. Award recipients will create descriptive information for their hidden collections that will be linked to and interoperable with all other projects funded by this grant with the purpose of forming a federated environment that can be built upon over time. Funding for the program comes from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
     
  • CLIR expects to award about $4 million in total grants ranging from $75,000 to $500,000 each. Go to http://www.clir.org/ for complete program information. The deadline is April 23, 2010 for pre-proposals.

The Endangered Language Fund provides grants for language maintenance and linguistic field work. The language involved must be in danger of disappearing within a generation or two. The work most likely to be funded is that which serves both the native community and the field of linguistics. Work which has immediate applicability to one group and more distant application to the other will also be considered. Publishing awards are a low priority, but will be considered.

  • Grants in this round are expected to be less than $4,000 each, and to average about $2,000. Eligible expenses include consultant fees, tapes, films, travel, etc. Overhead is not allowed. Grants are normally for a one-year period. Researchers and language activists from any country are eligible to apply. Awards can be made to institutions, but no administrative costs are covered. For complete details visit www.endangeredlanguagefund.org. The deadline for proposals is April 20.

 The American Sportfishing Association’s FishAmerica Foundation invites proposals for citizen-driven habitat restoration projects under its partnership with the NOAA Community-based Restoration Program.

  • The partnership requests proposals for local efforts to accomplish meaningful on-the-ground restoration of marine, estuarine, and riparian habitats, including salt marshes, seagrass beds, mangrove forests, and freshwater habitats important to anadromous fish species (fish like salmon and striped bass that migrate to and from the sea). Emphasis is on using a hands-on, grassroots approach to restore fisheries habitat across coastal America, the Great Lakes region, and U.S. Territories of the Caribbean.
     
  • A portion of the total available grant funds will be dedicated to projects that further NOAA’s Open Rivers Initiative. These projects must remove dams and other river barriers, in order to benefit living marine and coastal resources, particularly diadromous fish.  
     
  • The funders anticipate the availability of approximately $1 million in total funding; approximately $200,000 of the available funding will be dedicated specifically to projects furthering NOAA’s Open Rivers Initiative. Sub-awards will range between $10,000 and $75,000 per project. The RFP and application are available at the FishAmerica Foundation Web site, www.fishamerica.org.  The proposal deadline is June 7.

April 21, 2010

affiliates, want to play with MIT?

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — Jennifer Brundage @ 9:00 am
Kids playing at the Natural History Museum's Fossil Lab

@ the Smithsonian's Fossil Lab

The educational game designers at MIT’s Education Arcade have been working with Smithsonian scientists and educators to create an online curated game for middle school students to be played over six weeks in the spring of 2011.

 

In the game, players will receive encoded messages from scientists in the far future.  These scientists are writing because much of the scientific record has been destroyed.  Through scientific reasoning, research and exploratory challenges at museums, online collaboration with other players, and online experiment simulations, players unravel a multilayered mystery about the possible future of our earth – a science fiction scenario that incorporates very real environmental issues and natural science.

Players will explore, hypothesize, and test in the areas of cryptography, mathematics, anthropology, astronomy, climatology, zoology, environmental science, paleontology, archeology, and forensics.

 

How can Affiliates play?  During several weeks, players will be encouraged to collect “clues” – many of which can come from the Affiliate network.  Affiliates are encouraged to participate at any number of levels – from minimal to fully engaged.  Here are some examples of Affiliate involvement:

 

  • Encourage your Museum’s after-school club to play the game or distribute information sheets to your teacher constituents to encourage their students to play.
  • Distribute a “clue” at your front desk to visitors who provide a particular password.
  • Discuss any relevant exhibits or collections you have with the game designers, so that they may possibly be included in the game itself.
  • Maintain a “drop box,” placing items (hidden clues!) in a Tupperware box on your property for gamers to find.
  • Host a dedicated treasure-hunt style challenge in conjunction with the game.

The game hopes to drive student players and their families to their local Affiliate museums, to discover the resources in their own backyards that unlock the mystery of the future.  

 

Interested in more information or how to sign up?  Contact Jennifer Brundage, National Outreach Manager at 202.633.5306 or brundagej@si.edu.  Game designers will also be discussing this opportunity at the Affiliations Annual Conference – hope to see you there!

April 20, 2010

Kudos, Affiliates! May 2010

 

Great news from Affiliateland… way to go!

 

Michigan State University Museum (East Lansing, Michigan) will be a partner in the Biocomputational Evolution in Action Consortium (BEACON). A partnership between five U.S. universities, BEACON will be a five-year, $25 million research center exploring the intersection of computer and biological sciences, with a focus on the processes and results of evolution. The MSU Museum will assist in delivering educational outreach programs for schools and the general public through exhibits and virtual outreach (teleconferencing) programs.

 

The Putnam Museum (Davenport, Iowa) has reached an agreement with the city of Davenport through a real estate deal to receive $995,000 over three years. The money will be used for ongoing operating expenses.

 

Hy-Vee Inc. has made a $100,000 contribution to the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium (Dubuque, Iowa) to help fund the museum’s new Great Rivers Center. Hy-Vee’s gift will be used to fund the Water Cycle exhibit in the Great River Center’s RiverWORKS Gallery, an interactive museum-within-a-museum for children and families.

The Ford Foundation’s new Supporting Diverse Art Spaces initiative is giving $250,000 to the Wing Luke Asian Museum (Seattle, Washington), the country’s only pan-Asian-American museum, for marketing, a website upgrade, music events and other activities. The Foundation believes its initiative will revitalize local economies by promoting strong cultural environments, noting that support for the arts is even more vital in the current economic downturn.

For the first time, the Center for Jewish History (New York, New York) was awarded a grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities through its Fellowship Programs at Independent Research Institutions initiative to support fellowships devoted to advanced study and research in the humanities. The Center was awarded $169,200 to support (over three years) 12-month fellowships for distinguished scholars in Jewish studies.

 The African American Museum in Philadelphia (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) has been awarded a $150,000 grant from Save America’s Treasures to preserve its extensive photographic and film-based collections of several hundred thousand items.  The funds will enable the Museum to purchase new collections management software and provide internet access to a portion of the collection.  Greater access will also promote cooperation and collaboration with other museums, scholars and researchers.

 

Well done!  Do you have an accomplishment to share?  Leave a comment and let us know.

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