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March 31, 2011

Inspiring a Revival in San Antonio

“Above all, cultural organizations affirm the power and potency of art and culture to re-envision possibilities for a decent life and a common dream.”
-Dr. Tomás Ybarra Frausto 

The Museo Alameda in San Antonio, Texas. Photo courtesy of the museum.

Nowhere is this statement more relevant than at The Museo Alameda, a Smithsonian Affiliate in San Antonio, where curatorial advisor Dr. Ybarra-Frausto and colleagues have assembled a collection of historic and artistic magnitude.

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution, “Revolution and Renaissance: Mexico and San Antonio 1910-2010,” explores the evolution of art and culture in Mexico from 1910 through 1968, with particular attention to parallel and related cultural changes in San Antonio in the same years, and triumphantly marks a return to the Museo Alameda’s mission of serving the local community as well as the thousands of tourists who seek a better understanding of this important Southwestern city. 

The exhibition highlights artistic and cultural exchanges between San Antonio and Mexico, and includes over 200 rarely seen paintings, sculptures and folk art objects.  On display is an original signed print of the Plan de San Luis, a manifesto that launched the revolution published in San Antonio, also included are renowned paintings by Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, Maria Izquierdo, Roberto Montenegro and Carlos Merida among others.  “A comprehensive exhibition of Mexican art and culture that illuminates the complexity of the American experience” concludes Dr. Tomas Ybarra-Frausto. 

Dr. Ybarra-Frausto, a distinguished professor of arts and humanities, linguist, foundation executive and educator has devoted much of his professional life to encouraging diverse communities in the United States to better understand and appreciate each other’s art and culture, values and traditions.  He is also well known and highly appreciated at the Smithsonian where he serves as a board member of the Smithsonian Latino Center and advisor to the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). In 1997, he donated his collections of Mexican and Chicano prints to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and his literary archives of the Chicano Movement to the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art.  In honor of years of service to the Smithsonian, Dr. Ybarra-Frausto was awarded the Joseph Henry Medal by the Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents for “exemplary contributions to the Smithsonian Institution.” 

Alfredo Zalce (1908-2003), "The Attorneys (Los Abogados)," 1952, Oil on Masonite, Collection RRC. Photo courtesy Museo Alameda.

“We are proud of the exhibit,” said Rolando Pablos, Chairman of the Museo Alameda, “and most importantly, that the Museo Alameda is on its way to enjoying its rightful, long term place as a gathering center for all to enjoy.” 

We encourage all who visit San Antonio to stop in a see why we are justifiably proud of our Smithsonian Affiliates.

Is the Smithsonian in YOUR neighborhood? Click here to find an Affiliate near you!

March 27, 2011

coming up in Affiliateland in April 2011

Hello spring!   Like the cherry blossoms in D.C., activities at Affiliates are budding all over the country in April.

MARYLAND:
The
Smithsonian Associates presents a public tour, “The Birthplace of American Railroading,” at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museumin Baltimore, 4/2.

The B & O Museum will also open The War Came by Train, an exhibition commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and featuring the 1851 Pioneer locomotive, on loan from the National Museum of American History and recently restored by the B & O Museum, 4/14.

National Museum of American History curator Nancy Davis will serve on the jury panel for the upcoming Supersize exhibition at Annmarie Garden, 4/8.

COLORADO:
NASM curator Michael Neufeld will give a public lecture and book signing for the National Air and Space Museum: An Autobiography at the Littleton Museum in Littleton, 4/6.  

VIRGINIA:
National Museum of Natural History curator Doug Owlsey will present the keynote lecture for the VMNH Foundation Thomas Jefferson Awards at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville, 4/8.

PENNSYLVANIA:
Smithsonian Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture Dr. Richard Kurin will present a 10th Affiliate Anniversary Plaque to the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh at their annual History Makers Award Dinner, 4/8.

CALIFORNIA:
Riverside Metropolitan Museum will feature a modern quilt on loan from the National Museum of the American Indian in its upcoming exhibition American Indian Women Artists: Beyond Craft, opening in Riverside, 4/7.

LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes will celebrate the opening of their new building with an exhibition including artifacts on loan from the National Museum of American History in Los Angeles, 4/15.

NEW YORK:
National Postal Museum curator Cheryl Ganz will present a public lecture, “Fan Dancing and Fan Belts: Selling Optimism at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair” at The Long Island Museum of American Art, History & Carriages in Stony Brook, 4/10.

NORTH CAROLINA:
The Charlotte Museum of History opens SITES’ Becoming American: Teenagers and Immigration exhibition in Charlotte, 4/23.

FLORIDA:
The South Florida Museum and Parker Manatee Aquarium opens SITES’ Farmers, Warriors, Builders:  The Hidden Life of Ants exhibition in Bradenton, 4/30.  

March 26, 2011

Make the Smithsonian YOUR classroom…

Eric Stanley (left) meeting with Peter Liebhold at the National Museum of American History.

In November 2010, the Sonoma County Museum (Santa Rosa, CA) opened the SITES exhibition Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964 and was ecstatic with the positive response within the local community.  The museum was able to share the bracero story so well in part due to curator Eric Stanley’s participation in the Affiliations Visiting Professionals Program.  Eric was able to meet with and learn from the Smithsonian curators who had planned programming for the original show, which inspired some facets of the installation at the museum, including a hands-on table at which visitors could try out some of the tools braceros used. In all, Eric met with more than 30 Smithsonian experts during his residency and said, “The time I spent with those individuals, each one knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and warmly receptive of my presence, was a tremendous benefit to me and my institution.” Read Eric’s guest blogs about the exhibition and his visiting professionals experience at the Smithsonian.  

Fall 2010 visiting professional, Silvia Ros from The Wolfsonian at Florida International University (Miami) worked at the National Museum of American Indian's Cultural Resources Center.

How can you apply for the Affiliations Visiting Professionals Program?

  • If you are a full-time Affiliate staff member looking to gain more experience in a certain area of interest for your museum, you’re eligible.
  • NEW THIS YEAR!- To help you coordinate your schedule with your sponsoring Affiliate museum, selected candidates have the opportunity to complete their program during any consecutive two-weeks beginning October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012.
  • Affiliate organizations are still not responsible for providing a stipend!
  • Click here for application requirements.
  • Apply online by August 1, 2011!   

Annette Shumway interned at the National Postal Museum in 2010.

And perhaps you have an intern you’d like to recommend to spend a summer at the Smithsonian working on an area of interest for your museum? In 2010, the Frost Art Museum at Florida International University (Miami) recommended Annette Shumway for the Affiliations Intern Partnership Program.  Once accepted, Annette spent the summer at the National Postal Museum cataloging and digitizing the Postmaster General collection. During the second part of her internship back at the Frost, she piloted a digital imaging project involving the permanent collections, made recommendations for turning digitizing projects into programs at the Frost, and researched elements to include in an emergency management plan for the digital collection—all skills she was able to further practice after spending the summer at the Smithsonian.  And even better…Annette was HIRED by the National Postal Museum at the end of her internship and is now a staff member continuing her work on the Postmaster General collection! Read Annette’s blog about her internship experience at the Smithsonian.  

Shawn Pirelli, an intern partner from Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA) researched at the NMAH Archives in 2010.

How can you recommend an intern for the 2012 Intern Partnership Program?

  • If you have an established relationship with a college or graduate student (prior/current intern or volunteer perhaps) and a specific project in mind for the intern to work on during the second half of their internship back at the Affiliate organization, direct them to apply online!
  • Interns will work in a more general area of interest while at the Smithsonian and on a more specific project back at the Affiliate organization during the second half of their program.
  • NEW! Affiliate organizations are no longer responsible for any of the intern stipend. Interns will receive a modest stipend from the Affiliations office for D.C. commuting expenses.
  • Interns can apply online! Note- Online registration for the 2012 summer program will not open in October 2011.
  • Click here for application requirements. 

Who can you contact with questions?  Elizabeth Bugbee, External Affairs and Professional Development Coordinator- (202) 633-5304, BugbeeE@si.edu.

March 25, 2011

For Jazz Appreciation Month, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum is the place to be

Special thanks for this guest post to Dr. David Taft Terry, Executive Director, at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Baltimore, Maryland.  

Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Jazz Alliance.

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture will celebrate this wonderful art form with great enthusiasm.  For more than a century, jazz has been the sound of democracy; it has grown and expanded as an expression of freedom around the world.  Drawn from African and European influences and developed in the distinctive historical milieu of the American Experience, jazz is “us” – all of us.  And, from ragtime to swing, bop to avante garde, Latin to contemporary, expressions of jazz are as diverse as the musicians that create it.  Jazz is my favorite music. 

Spice Band performs April 1, 2011. Photo courtesy of the band.

Maryland and her citizens have played critical roles in the development of jazz from its beginnings, and that influence continues to the present day: Eubie Blake, Cab Calloway, Chick Webb, Billie Holiday, Ethel Ennis, Lester Bowie, Winard Harper, Cyrus Chestnut, Dontae Winslow, Lafayette Gilchrist, Carl Grubbs – the list goes on!  You can learn about jazz history in Maryland in the “Pennsylvania Avenue” installation inside our Strength of the Mind gallery, one of the permanent galleries located on the third floor of our museum.  You can experience jazz live through our exciting Jazz Appreciation Month programs.   

I invite you to join us this April.  

Reginald F. Lewis Museum Jazz Appreciation Month Programs:

Friday, April 1, 7:30 p.m. 
FIRST FRIDAYS: Spice Band featuring Vocalist Debbie Poole
Poole brings her unique vocals to classic Phyllis Hyman songs such as “Meet Me on the Moon” and “The Answer Is You.”
Cost: $15 members, $20 non-members. Doors open at 7 p.m. Sponsored in part by AARP (includes light food and drinks) 

Saturday, April 16, 3 p.m.
Drama Presentation: “Satchmo and Baby Dolly”
Explore the special bond between early jazz greats Louis Armstrong and Baltimore native Blanche Calloway in this toe-tapping drama by Camay Calloway Murphy and Randy Smith.
Museum admission required. 

Saturday, April 30, Noon
SATURDAY’S CHILD: Music Program: Jazz for Kids (Ages 6-12)
Enjoy children’s songs performed by the Baltimore Jazz Alliance, and try jazz instruments including the flute, clarinet, saxophone, piano, bass and drums.
Museum admission required. 

Saturday, April 30, 2 p.m.
Book Talk: Music at the CrossRoads, Lives & Legacies of Baltimore Jazz
Uncover Baltimore’s rich jazz history with editor Mark Osteen, Loyola University professor and president of Baltimore Jazz Alliance, and co-writers Jennifer Margaret Nordmark and Bob Jacobsen.
Museum admission required. 

For more information, please visit our website.

For more information about JAM programs, visit the National Museum of American History’s Smithsonian Jazz website.

March 24, 2011

2011 affiliations conference: let’s eat!

More and more museums are exploring ways to use food and foodways as an extension of their missions, and as an additional pathway to community engagement.  (Here’s an example, and what some Affiliates are doing.)  Whether exploring historic and cultural traditions around food or promoting an agenda of sustainability, food is increasingly appearing in the repertoire of museum programming. And we know this issue carries national importance, as the American Association of Museums recently announced its collaborative proposal for Let’s Move Museums and Gardens as a way to address the First Lady’s focus on healthy, active lifestyles that incorporate good food.

At the National Museum of the American Indian, the Mitsitam Café (mitsitam means “Let’s Eat” in the local Piscataway and Delaware languages) is a prime example of how food allows visitors to “experience Native cultures and indigenous foods in ways that appeal to all the senses, transcending the limits of a museum exhibition,”  according to Museum Director, Kevin Gover.  Mitsitam Executive Chef Richard Hetzler researched indigenous foodways from five general cultural landscapes in North and South America as represented in the Museum’s collections.  The result is a seasonal menu (the entire café changes some of its dishes 4 times per year) that reflects the food available to Native Americans, and their attitudes toward preparing it.  Visitors see their tamales being made by hand and salmon roasting on an open fire pit – both ancient Native techniques.  The menus are updated and refreshed for the 21st century palette, but the food also finds its way to interpretative carts, festivals and public programs.  One cannot help feeling the connection to native culture that flows uninterrupted from the galleries to the café.

Using food as an interpretation tool will be the topic of a session at the annual Smithsonian Affiliations Conference this year, and what better time to do it than over breakfast?  NMAI Chef Richard Hetzler will prepare a dish from his internationally-acclaimed Mitsitam cookbook, while discussing the Museum’s philosophy toward foodways education.  Other Affiliates who are exploring this topic are welcome to share their programs at the session as well.  And of course, we’ll all enjoy a buffet of Native breakfast foods to get our creative juices flowing. 

Bon appétit!

To see the full agenda and to register for the 2011 Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference, click here.

March 22, 2011

wheeling visitors in…

I have a confession to make.  After 13 years in museum education, I have come to think of educational carts in the galleries as the Clydesdales of the field – the workhorses that are low-tech, straightforward, usually blue or made of sturdy metal.  I fully embrace them as an effective “vehicle” to engage visitors in the galleries… but certainly did not consider them a new frontier of innovation, especially in our world of iPad apps, videoconferencing, and Twitter.

Boy was I wrong.

Students at the Chicago History Museum track the history of the city's great fire of 1871.

Educators at the Smithsonian recently gathered for a brown bag lunch session to explore this idea of innovation in educational carts.  We were treated to a presentation by guest speakers Rich Faron of museum explorer and Heidi Moisan from the Chicago History Museum.  Through a slideshow of case studies and prototypes, it became clear that their examples did not represent the cart I had come to stereotype over the years.  Rather, they presented carts as an appealing, active launch pad for visitor team-building, collaboration, and a deeper engagement with exhibitions.  And they came in all different shapes and sizes.

For example, using an oversized map of the city and 3-D markers (disguised as a cart), students trace the route of the great Chicago fire of 1871 (try making THAT exciting for a 3rd grader otherwise!).  Other carts used oversized skyscrapers to explore the city’s iconic architecture, or ropes to measure the height of native plants on the prairie. 

In short, it was simultaneously humbling and inspirational to think of the workhorse cart in such inventive ways.  And, exciting to know that seasoned professionals can still have the “ah ha!” moments we try to create for our audiences.  That’s what it’s all about, right?

Affiliates, do you have any inspirational cart stories or examples to share?

Chicago History Museum's Skyscrapers cart

 

Students explore Chicago's skyline through improvisation and building activities

Thanks to our friends Susan Nichols at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Heather Paisley-Jones at the National Museum of American History, for organzing this session!

March 14, 2011

happy 10th anniversary College Park Aviation Museum!

Filed under: General,You Heard It Here First — Tags: , — Jennifer Brundage @ 4:14 pm

Congratulations to the College Park Aviation Museum on their 10th anniversary as a Smithsonian Affiliate!

Berliner helicopter on view at the College Park Aviation Museum in Maryland

Since their joining the Affiliations Program in March 2001, the Museum has been active in bringing important artifacts, speakers, and exhibitions from the National Museum of Air and Space to College Park, Maryland.  The Museum sits on the grounds of the world’s oldest continuously operating airport, which was founded in 1909 when Wilbur Wright established a flight instruction operation for the first military aviators.  Not surprisingly, the Museum displays Wright memorabilia on loan from the Smithsonian, including their pocket watch and a Medal of Congress.  The Museum also displays the impressive and historic Berliner helicopter, the product of an inventive father-and-son team to become the first Americans to make any significant progress towards the creation of a practical helicopter.

Over the years, the Museum has hosted Smithsonian exhibitions including SITES’ At the Controls, and NASM’s In Plane View and Fly Now!NASM’s Flight Posters.  They have  hosted Smithsonian speakers on a range of topics from women and African Americans in aviation to milestones in early aviation history.

Consider a trip to the Museum next time you’re in the D.C. area.  At just 8 miles away from downtown, visitors can experience this landmark of early aviation history, while seeing some Smithsonian treasures along the way.  Kudos to the College Park Aviation Museum for 10 years of collaboration, and here’s to many more years of our flying together!

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