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January 28, 2011

affiliates in the news

Filed under: General — Elizabeth Bugbee @ 1:15 pm

Congratulations to these Smithsonian Affiliates making headlines this week! 

The $185-million museum, designed by Pritzker Prize Laureate Thom Mayne and his firm Morphosis, is scheduled to open early 2013.

Dallas Museum of Nature and Science(Dallas, TX)
Perot Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas Receives $25 Million Gift from The Rees-Jones FoundationREAD MORE 

National Museum of American Jewish History (Philadelphia, PA)
American Jews’ Story Told in a New Home
READ MORE 

Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (Spokane, WA)
Spokane organizations win Allen grantsREAD MORE
Paul Allen gives MAC show of supportREAD MORE 

Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA)
We Still Live Here, An Interview with Anne MakepeaceREAD MORE 

The exterior of the National Museum of American Jewish History. Photo by Jeff Goldberg

Conner Prairie(Fishers, IN)
Conner Prairie history park: Attendance grew in 2010READ MORE

January 26, 2011

from airmail to email

Centennial Celebration of the Wiseman Cook Flight with Smithsonian Curators

Wiseman Cooke Plane on display at the National Postal Museum.

Centennial celebrations don’t happen every day.  When the Sonoma County Museum, an Affiliate in Santa Rosa, California, set out to host an event to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first airmail flight, they turned to the Smithsonian curators who care for the event’s primary artifact, the plane that made that journey a century ago.  Together, they’ve organized a program that will connect online viewers and live audiences at the Sonoma County Museum and the National Air and Space Museum to celebrate this event.

The flight was piloted on February 17 and 18, 1911 by Fred Wiseman.  Wiseman took off from Petaluma, California and flew 25 miles to Santa Rosa with three letters.  Wiseman’s plane is part of the collections of the National Air and Space Museum and is currently on display at the National Postal Museum.  The event carries even more significance to the local community because the Sonoma County Museum is located in a building that was the Santa Rosa post office in 1911. 

During the program, Tom Crouch, senior curator, aeronautics, National Air and Space Museum and Nancy Pope, curator and historian at the National Postal Museum will share their knowledge about the flight.  Tom will discuss the historical context of the plane and Nancy will talk about its significance to postal history. 

Please join us on Saturday, February 19th at 2pm Eastern Standard Time at the Smithsonian’s Ustream channel, where online viewers can watch the lecture and email questions to both curators.   If you would like to organize a similar distance learning program, contact your national outreach manager.

January 25, 2011

An Affiliate journey through Smithsonian collections storage

Special thanks for this guest post to Latasha M. Richards, collections manager at York County Culture & Heritage Museums, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Rock Hill, South Carolina. 

The idea to visit the Smithsonian came to mind while I worked on ways to improve and better utilize the current collections storage space at the York County Culture & Heritage Museums (CHM).  As the collections manager for CHM, I knew such an opportunity to learn from Smithsonian staff would allow me to gain valuable information to help my museum move forward with its own ideas to renovate one of our current collections storage facilities. 

Emily Kaplan, conservator, at the NMAI Cultural Resources Center shows Latasha the textile storage units.

Anyone who has gone through this type of process, particularly when it calls for moving large amounts of the collection, knows what a challenge such projects present. From the beginning, the CHM collections staff decided that talking to other professionals who have gone through similar activities would be one of the best ways to get a clear picture of just what to expect from the process.  Thanks to CHM’s participation in the Smithsonian Affiliations program, I was able to do just that.

I contacted my Smithsonian Affiliations National Outreach Manager, Caroline Mah, to talk about our collections storage renovation project and just what I hoped to gain from a visit to the Smithsonian.  She worked hard to ensure that she had a clear understanding of just want I was hoping to see and learn, and was able to set up tours for me with staff at the National Museum of the American Indian Cultural Resources Center (NMAI) and the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Compact storage at NMAI Cultural Resources Center.

Caroline and I met Raj Solanki, registration loan specialist, and Emily Kaplan, conservator, at the NMAI Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Maryland on the first day. After a tour of the collections space, they summarized their experiences moving the collection from its previous facilities and what they loved or would change about their building if given the chance.  They recommended using a bar code system to track objects during relocation, a system that proved to be a successful process for them.  Emily and Raj also made recommendations for various vendors and professionals that they worked with and sent me a copy of NMAI’s “The Move Procedure Manual” which details the procedures used in their move.

The next two days were spent at the American Art Museum’s two different storage facilities—one located near the museum in D.C., and the other a short distance away in Maryland. I met with Denise D. Wamaling, collections manager, and James Concha, collections manager for painting and sculpture.  Both had worked together when the American Art Museum had to relocate its collection to new facilities.  Denise and James oversee different aspects of the collection so the needs for their individual spaces were unique.  They emphasized how important it is to work as a team throughout the entire process because it made things run more smoothly.  Denise gave recommendations on how to plan the space by taping-off areas of the floor to represent where storage equipment and workspaces would be located as well as making life-size cutouts to make sure objects could be moved not only through doorways but also within the collections space as a whole.  When speaking with James, he emphasized just how important it was to manage workspace and supplies while moving.  He noted that things can get overwhelming with boxes, crates, and supplies everywhere and that it was important to coordinate when things were being moved and when the supplies would be available so that everything ran smoothly and efficiently. 

More compact storage at NMAI Cultural Resources Center.

Overall, the trip was incredibly helpful.  Some of the information was already somewhere in my thought process but in talking with other professionals who had actually gone through the experience it reaffirmed my ideas or recalled things to memory.  By touring all of the facilities, I saw different ways to store various objects that I had not thought of or seen before, which will be invaluable when it comes to planning our new space. I know I have options.  Lastly, I was so pleased and appreciative to the Smithsonian staff for not only taking the time to speak to me during the winter holiday season but with how generous they were with their knowledge.  I walked away from the experience with new contacts, lists of potential vendors and professionals that I can work with, and a reminder of just how small the museum community is and how important it is to share our thoughts and experiences with one another.

If you are an Affiliate staff member interested in planning something similar, contact your Smithsonian Affiliations National Outreach Manager for details.

January 24, 2011

it’s not too early to plan for jazz appreciation month!

The 2011 JAM poster featuring Mary Lou Williams

This April is the 10th Anniversary of Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM!)   As always, there are many ways to commemorate this unique American art form at your museum. 

Joann Stevens, program director for JAM Initiatives at the National Museum of American History (NMAH), shared information about the programs and resources available to help plan your Jazz Appreciation month event.  “This year JAM celebrates 10 years of advancing appreciation of jazz as America’s original music.  Smithsonian Affiliations has been a great partner in this mission.  Let’s work to strengthen our relationship in 2011 and beyond.  We invite you to order bulk copies of JAM posters for your programs  and send us information to promote your JAM museum and community events on the JAM website, and connect with us via social media.”

 JAM’s 2011 theme honors the history of overlooked musicians, “Women in Jazz: Transforming a Nation.”  The programs at NMAH will tell the story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, and their beginnings at Piney Woods School in Mississippi, “the school that music built.”  The Sweethearts gained global recognition as the nation’s first integrated female band, founded in 1937.  Like many other women at the time, the Sweethearts confronted dual biases of gender and race and excelled during a period in history when many Southern blacks lived in slavery without chains and women were second class citizens.  Another female jazz pioneer, Mary Lou Williams, is the face of this year’s celebrations; her portrait by Keith Henry Brown is the centerpiece for JAM’s poster. 

You can learn more about programming on the program’s website, facebook page and follow JAM on twitter.  And keep a lookout for a special webcast of a Latin jazz percussion workshop on April 7th. More details to come!

And don’t forget programming from a Smithsonian Affiliate in New York City, the Jazz Museum in Harlem.  Their executive director, Loren Schoenberg, is once again offering to lead a special program for Affiliates.  Learn more here.  

To get you in a Jazz mood and begin your programming, check out NMAH’s recent tribute blog to Billy Taylor, Jazz’ Elder Statesman.  Enjoy!

January 21, 2011

Five Smithsonian Affiliates host live webcast for “National Youth Summit: The 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides”

From May until November 1961, more than 400 diverse and committed Americans rode south together on buses and trains, putting their bodies and freedom on the line to challenge the Jim Crow laws that enforced racial injustice and inequality in public transportation. The Freedom Rides changed the Civil Rights Movement and demonstrated the power of individual action to change the nation. 

On Wednesday, February 9, 2011, 12:00-1:15PM EST, middle and high school students across the country will join together electronically for a National Youth Summit on the Freedom Rides and activism at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Freedom Rides veterans Congressman John Lewis, D-GA, Diane Nash, Jim Zwerg, and Reverend James Lawson will share how they became involved in the Freedom Rides and how their lives were affected by them. They will join filmmaker Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders) and scholar Raymond Arsenault to discuss the meaning of the Freedom Rides and the role of young people in shaping America’s past and future. 

Image courtesy Library of Congress.

The discussion in Washington will be joined by five audiences at Smithsonian Affiliate museums around the nation as well as by registered viewers of the webcast.  The Affiliates’ programs will be augmented by a discussion guide produced by the National Museum of American History. Each Affiliate will welcome a veteran Freedom Rider to their museums to participate in the discussion and coordinate with local schools to engage students. 

The Affiliate museums and their legendary Freedom Riders are: 

Students will be encouraged to participate in the discussion through the National Museum of American History’s email, Facebook, Twitter, and the conference portal, and will be asked to think about themselves as makers of history. 

Registration is free, and will include access to preparatory classroom materials, film clips, follow-up materials, and technical assistance. Register today! 

 

The National Youth Summit is presented by the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, in collaboration with Smithsonian Affiliations and American Experience/WGBH.

January 20, 2011

kudos affiliates! february 2011

Affiliates start the new year off right with news of support.  Nice going!

Jack S. Parker, a former Vice Chairman of the General Electric Company, made a legacy gift to the Heard Museum’s (Phoenix, Arizona) endowment through the Maie Bartlett Heard Society, the Heard’s planned giving program. Parker’s gift included a $1 million cash annuity and a $1.6 million American Indian art collection bequest. The Heard Museum also received another significant gift with the donation of the Santa Fe Collection of Navajo Rugs from Dr. Charles and Linda Rimmer. The 77 Navajo textiles, created in the late 20th century, represent many styles hand woven by some of the most accomplished Navajo weavers.

Two Manitowoc couples and maritime enthusiasts donated $10,000 for the installation of three vintage MK-14 World War II torpedoes on the USS Cobia docked at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum (Manitowoc, Wisconsin). The project is part of the ongoing restoration of the Cobia, a restored WWII submarine on display.

The Telluride Foundation awarded $15,000 to the Pinhead Institute (Telluride, Colorado) to support its science-based educational programming.

The Miami Science Museum was awarded a $75,000 grant by Chase to implement the Girls SPICE (Science Program Inspiring Creative Exhibits) project. The grant will allow the Museum to work with Charles R. Drew Middle School’s Visual and Performing Arts Magnet Program to implement an afterschool and summer program targeted to female students in grades 7-8.

The Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art (Elmhurst, Illinois) has received a $150,000 state grant to use for capital expenses related to the project to renovate and improve its Rock and Mineral Experience exhibit, which focuses on the earth sciences, lapidary arts and science.

The Citizens Bank Foundation announced a donation of $25,000 to the African American Museum in Philadelphia to underwrite the museum’s commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on January 17. The foundation grant will provide free admission to the museum, as well as special events, including the Citizens Bank Scavenger Hunt for Heritage designed to help children learn about the museum and African American history.

January 19, 2011

Western Heritage Center: 10 Years in Association with the Smithsonian

2011 is a big year for organizations—20 at the latest count—celebrating their 10th anniversary as Smithsonian Affiliates.  To honor these Affiliates we’ll be blogging monthly about each one as they reach this milestone.   

Almost 2,000 miles from the National Mall, Billings, Montana is home to the Western Heritage Center (WHC), one of three organizations in Montana working in association with the Smithsonian Institution. What began as a community center to display a private collection of western artifacts has grown to include nationally recognized education and outreach programs, long term exhibits with interactive components, traveling exhibits, a vast collection of historic artifacts, fine art, textiles, photographs and memorabilia, and climate controlled archival storage.  

From the very beginning, WHC jumped right in to collaborating with the Smithsonian by hosting Smithsonian Days in the Yellowstone Region, a program that featured a community celebration and a school/public lecture series from The Smithsonian Associates and the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies. They developed and traveled the exhibition Coming Home: The Northern Cheyenne Odyssey, that told the stories of two Northern Cheyenne bands, beginning in 1876 and continuing to the present day, and featured a Cheyenne animal hide purse on loan from the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). And they’ve consistently participated in the Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day since 2006. 

NMAI loaned this Cheyenne animal hide bag to WHC for their exhibition, "Coming Home: The Northern Cheyenne Odyssey."

What does the future have in store for WHC? Director Julie Dial says, “We look forward to partnering with other Montana Affiliates to bring Smithsonian speakers to our communities as well as recording oral histories before the stories of our region are lost to time. Thanks to the support of wonderful people on our Board like Ralph and Pat Dixon, avid Smithsonian enthusiasts, we are able to share these types of collaborations with our visitors.” 

So, Happy 10th Anniversary Western Heritage Center! Keep that Western spirit alive and here’s to many more years of collaboration.

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