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February 27, 2011

kudos affiliates! march 2011

As winter thaws into spring (hopefully!), it’s great to see these accomplishments in Affiliateland.

The Walmart Foundation has donated $38,838 to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum. The funds will be used to improve its live animal and marine life departments.

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has awarded the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture $30,000 in funding for an upcoming series at the museum titled “Visions and Voices.” This grant is for the exhibit, “Ric Gendron: A Good Journey,” which will pair Gendron, one of the region’s top local artists, with Oregon writer Elizabeth Woody.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council announced Plimoth Plantation as a winner in the Creative Learning category of the 2011 Commonwealth Awards, honoring exceptional achievement in the arts, humanities, and sciences. The museum will bring a love of Shakespeare to the town of Plymouth and surrounding area with the innovative program: “One Play, One Community: Romeo and Juliet.”

February 26, 2011

where will the pavilion go next?

The Smithsonian’s magnificent Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion will end its visit to Flushing Town Hall in New York City in September 2011.  Would your Affiliate like to be the next stop on its tour through America?

The Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion is a 1:5 scale replica of the Wan Chun Ting pavilion that stands in the Imperial Garden of the Forbidden City in Beijing.  An example of classical Chinese architecture, the Pavilion was carved in China in 2007 by artisans of the China Red Sandalwood Museum, who then donated it to the Museum Conservation Institute at the Smithsonian.  Demonstrating traditional Chinese techniques of carving, the richly-detailed Pavilion is made of 3,000 hand-carved pieces of red sandalwood, one of the hardest woods in the world, and is constructed using mortise-and-tenon joinery.  There are no nails holding this magnificent model together.

Students learn from the Pavilion in Peoria, IL

The Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion has already made three stops in Affiliateland.  After its exhibition at the Smithsonian in 2007, it traveled to the Lakeview Museum in Peoria, Illinois.  Accompanied by Chinese-specific programs including calligraphy classes, tai chi and tea ceremony demonstrations, and exhibits of Chinese art, the Pavilion drew a truly international audience, including the Chinese Ambassador to the United States.  (Read more about its Peoria life in The Affiliate newsletter article.)

It then traveled to the Irving Art Center in Irving, Texas, where it was stunningly displayed in the museum’s lobby.  In October, the Pavilion traveled to Flushing Town Hall in Queens, located in one of New York City’s largest Asian communities.  Complemented by a wide range of Asian-specific performances and art exhibitions, the orchestrated construction of the Pavilion by Smithsonian conservator Don Williams and his team of volunteers is a show unto itself.  This spectacular artifact will be ready to travel to a new location in September 2011.

an overhead view in Irving, TX

If you are interested in pursuing a loan of the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion, here’s what you should know:

- The Pavilion is approximately 10’ wide x 10’ deep  x 10’ high.
- The Pavilion weighs 1.5 tons when assembled.
- The Pavilion comes in 14 large, specially-designed cases which must be stored during its installation.
- Text panels in English and Chinese accompany the Pavilion.
- The Pavilion must sit on a simple platform (12-18” high) which is usually built on-site.

- Contact your National Outreach Manager as soon as possible to discuss logistics!  affiliates@si.edu

Complete information about the Pavilion, including text from the panels and images, can be found at http://www.si.edu/MCI/pavilion/pavilion.html.

its current home in Flushing, NY

February 25, 2011

affiliates help smithsonian and MIT solve mysteries

Helping the Smithsonian solve a mystery about a fictitious environmental disaster – doesn’t that sound like fun?

A preview look at the Vanished site, a curated alternate-reality game

Smithsonian scientists have teamed up with MIT’s Education Arcade to engage middle-school students to do just that, in an online alternate-reality game.   Vanished will kick off on April 4 at vanished.mit.edu.  In the course of 8 weeks, students ages 11-14 from all over the country will collect clues on- and off-line, and form a scientific community to help Smithsonian scientists test hypotheses and solve this mystery.  Thanks to the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies, a range of scientists from entomologists to paleontologists will host videoconference sessions with players, mentoring them through their scientific discoveries.  (Read more in this USA Today article.)

Where will students collect the real data from their hometowns, to share with Smithsonian scientists?  Many will look to their local Affiliate for clues.  According to MIT game designer Caitlin Feeley, “a kid in Kansas could go to the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson and bring back information on space exploration, and a kid in North Carolina could go to the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, walk through their incredible diorama, and bring back information on how a lost species massively affected an entire ecosystem.”  In fact, 17 Affiliate museums are partnering with the Smithsonian and MIT to offer clue-gathering opportunities for gamers.  “The Aerospace Museum of California is excited to partner with the Smithsonian and MIT in this unique educational opportunity,” says Linda Payne, the Museum’s Education Director.  “We are certain that Vanished will stimulate students’ interest in scientific exploration and problem solving.”

The game, made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation, hopes to capitalize on the popularity of shows such as CSI to offer a specific kind of scientific problem-solving for students.  “The kids are actually doing science,” says Elizabeth Cottrell, Smithsonian geologist and director of the Smithsonian’s global volcanism program.  “They are going to have the ‘Ah, I get it,”… moment for themselves.”

Thanks to the Smithsonian Affiliates who will help students find those “Ah hah” moments… right in their own neighborhoods.

Affiliate partners for Vanished:
Mid-America Science Museum, Hot Springs, AR
Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science, Tallahassee, FL
Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, WY
Kansas Cosmosphere, Hutchinson, KS
The Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA
Schiele Museum of Natural History, Gastonia, NC
Aerospace Museum of California, McClellan, CA
Putnam Museum, Davenport, IA
Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh, PA
South Florida Museum, Bradenton, FL
Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville, VA
Kenosha Public Museum, Kenosha, WI
Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, MT
Museum of Dentistry, Baltimore, MD
South Carolina State Museum, Columbia, SC

“Vanished” in the news:
USA Today: Interactive game ‘Vanished’ doubles as an educational tool

ArtDaily.org: Smithsonian and MIT Partner to Turn Kids into Scientific Investigators

February 24, 2011

Wing Luke Museum and Kona Historical Society: 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. 

Two unique Smithsonian Affiliates celebrated 10 years of collaborating with the Smithsonian in February- Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (Seattle, WA) and Kona Historical Society (Captain Cook, HI). 

Pictured: Joshua Heim, Exhibits Developer and King Lau, Youth Participant, of the Wing Luke Asian Museum YouthCAN program with Michelle Obama. Courtesy IMLS.

Seattle, Washington, is home to the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, better known as “The Wing,” the nation’s only museum devoted to the Asian Pacific American experience. Active participants in Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day each year, The Wing has also included programming from The Smithsonian Associates and brought Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service exhibitions to their community. Recently, during a White House ceremony, First Lady Michelle Obama honored The Wing’s YouthCAN after school program with a prestigious national award for its impact in engaging young people in the arts and humanities.

Kona Coffee Living History Farm, courtesy Kona Historical Society.

Did you know the Smithsonian has Affiliates in Hawaii? The Kona Historical Society in Captain Cook, Hawaii, also celebrates its 10th anniversary in February. The society maintains two historic sites and the Jean Greenwell Archives, which boasts the largest photograph collection on the Big Island; over 140 maps; many rare and out-of-print books; historical records including manuscripts, pamphlets and oral history interviews; and films and videotapes of Kona. The Society is in the process of raising $1.5 million over the next three years to expand the Kona Coffee Living History Farm which will create a permanent exhibition space for “The Kona Coffee Story:  Along the Hawai’I Belt Road,” an award winning exhibition created in a partnership which included the Japanese American National Museum (another Smithsonian Affiliate) and which was donated to the Kona Historical Society.

So, Happy 10th anniversary to The Wing and Kona Historical Society! And here’s to many more years of collaboration.

 

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