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.
Greensboro Historical Museum (Greensboro, North Carolina) Montagnard teens tell stories in Smithsonian-funded documentary The film was made through a grant to the Greensboro Historical Museum from the Smithsonian Affiliates and the Asian Pacific American Center. The staff at the historical museum reached out through church sponsors to find Montagnard teenagers, convened about a dozen of them to discuss what kind of story they wanted to tell about themselves, put video cameras in their hands and then set them loose to interview each other.
Schiele Museum of Natural History (Gastonia, North Carolina) Smithsonian traveling exhibit on ants opens at Gastonia’s Schiele Museum It’s an intricate, highly regimented insect society that conducts business out of sight from most humans. A new traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution that opened Saturday at Gastonia’s Schiele Museum of Natural History explores this diverse world.
Fun social media opportunity coinciding with Titanoboa exhibit. Photo courtesy University of Nebraska State Museum.
University of Nebraska State Museum (Lincoln, Nebraska) Replica of giant snake slithers into Lincoln for exhibit expected to scare, inspire visitors The collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Florida Museum of Natural History and University of Nebraska State Museum is expected to be a hit. “It will be very popular with families and with the students — everyone likes a good scare,” said Cheryl Washer, registrar and project director for the Smithsonian traveling exhibit service.
The University of Nebraska State Museum has been named an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. “The State Museum’s new designation as a Smithsonian Affiliate builds on our long-standing research collaborations with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History,” said Priscilla Grew, director of the museum. “Three of our curators are Smithsonian research associates, and the Smithsonian’s national scarab beetle research collection has been on long-term loan to the State Museum for many years.”
Titanoboa, world’s largest snake, replica comes to Morrill Hall Titanoboa is coming to Lincoln. The 48-foot-long replica of the world’s largest snake will be featured at the University of Nebraska State Museum in Morrill Hall starting Saturday. The exhibit is part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and will be open through Sept. 7.
World’s largest snake replica slithers to Lincoln UNL paleontologist Jason Head helped bring the Smithsonian exhibit to Nebraska. He is the world-renown snake expert who, on a video conference five years ago, helped researchers identify the beast from a fossil. The titanoboa was uncovered in a Colombian coal mine.
Smithsonian exhibit makes its way to Lincoln Cheryl Washer of the Smithsonian Institute has been traveling with exhibits for more than twenty years. She’s the one responsible for getting Titanoboa to look her best before the exhibit opens up to the public. “When I get to go to the museum to see the reaction of the staff, if I get to see the visitors,” Washer said. “This is an exhibit that’s not only educational but a lot of fun. And that’s a joy.”
Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, Calif.) JANM Joins Smithsonian National Youth Summit on Freedom Summer Approximately 200 students will be at JANM to participate in the National Youth Summit by joining in the conversation and hearing from Tamio Wakayama, a Nisei Japanese Canadian who joined the American Civil Rights Movement as a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art (Elmhurst, Illinois) Lizzadro Museum exhibits ‘showy’ Smithsonian jewelry They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but Dorothy Asher took explicit care to look for other gem stones when cultivating the Lizzadro Museum’s current “Modern Designer Jewelry from the Smithsonian” exhibit.
This is a replica of the Apollo 11 space suit. While the space suits were life-giving, remarkable engineering feat in space, they are too fragile for the earth’s atmosphere. The originals from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum do not travel.
Tampa Bay History Center (Tampa Bay, Florida) Exhibit explores space through astronaut clothing The latest exhibition at Tampa Bay History Center explores space through astronaut clothing. The History Center’s “Suited for Space” opened in February 1st and will be on display through April 27.
What to Wear? The History and Future of Spacesuits The issue of “what to wear?” takes on an extra dimension of life and death when it comes to space travel…We recently had a chance to see the past, present and future of space suit technology in the Smithsonian Institutions’ touring Suited for Space exhibit currently on display at the Tampa Bay History Center in Tampa, Florida.
And museums are using them in new and unique ways to raise money and engage new audiences. In 2013, the Freer|Sackler Gallery launched its first major crowdfunding campaign “Together we’re one” to support Yoga: The Art of Transformation. Using crowdfunding, the museum asked ordinary citizens to help fund the exhibit. In the end, the museum raised more than $170,000, well above its goal.
At the National Museum of American History, National Air and Space Museum and National Museum of Natural History social media practitioners are engaging new audiences in person and online by hosting Tweetups (sometimes called socials) for enthusiasts who want to learn more about Smithsonian collections, programs and exhibits. Partnering with other organizations like NASA and the National Holocaust Museum, the Smithsonian reaches new audiences through the personal tweets from their most avid audiences. During the #docsocial tweetup in January 2014, the small event—about 25 tweeps—resulted in almost 24 million impressions on Twitter. (Impressions are similar to newspaper delivery—you know how many newspapers were delivered but not how many were read, but the potential is there!)
As we plan our 2014 Affiliations National Conference, we want to know who among our amazing Affiliate network have had successes in crowdfunding and tweetups? We’re planning two sessions during our conference about both topics and would love to include Affiliate insights. Have you funded a program or exhibit through online giving? Have you expanded your reach using Tweetups as a tool? We want to know. And if you’re one of our amazing Affiliate innovators, we want to include you in our conference. Email Elizabeth Bugbee to share your successes (and failures too!).
In addition, we’ve started a Social Media @SIAffiliates Facebook group. We want to create a community for our Affiliate network to get to know each other and share ideas with each other. Please join today!
Join us at the 2014 Affiliations National Conference June 23-25 in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference is for current Affiliates only. If you are interested in becoming an Affiliate, or have an application in progress and would like to attend the Conference, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee for more information.
The Smithsonian Latino Center’s Young Ambassadors Program (YAP) is a national program for graduating high school seniors aimed at fostering the next generation of Latino leaders in the arts, sciences, and humanities via the Smithsonian Institution and its partners. YAP is a college preparatory and leadership program encouraging participants to explore various academic and career opportunities through the lens of the Latino experience.
Students are selected to travel to Washington, D.C. for a week-long seminar at the Smithsonian, followed by a four-week internship in museums and other cultural institutions in 17 cities across the United States and Puerto Rico, including 10 Affiliates.
Do you know a Latino teen who aspires to be a leader in the arts, sciences or humanities?
Who? Graduating high school seniors with a commitment to the arts, sciences, or humanities as it pertains to Latino communities
What? Week-long, all-expenses paid training and leadership seminar and a four-week internship with a $2,000 program stipend
Where? Washington D.C. and internships in 17 cities across the U.S. and Puerto Rico
When? June 22-August 1, 2014
Why? Opportunity to explore various career paths, embrace your own cultural heritage, and gain practical and leadership skills and intellectual growth
And thanks to the 2014 YAP Affiliate partners!
Musical Instrument Museum (Phoenix, AZ)
California Science Center (Los Angeles, CA)
Museum of Latin American Art (Long Beach, CA)
Chabot Space and Science Center (Oakland, CA)
Miami Science Museum (Miami, FL)
Adler Planetarium (Chicago, IL)
Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (San Juan, PR)
Fort Worth Museum of Science and History (Fort Worth, TX)
International Museum of Art and Science (McAllen, TX)
The Museum of Flight (Seattle, WA)
WASHINGTON The Northwest Museum of Arts in Culture hosts a talk and booksigning on the Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects by Richard Kurin, Undersecretary for History, Art and Culture, in Spokane, 3.11-14.
NEBRASKA The Durham Museum hosts An Evening with the Smithsonian featuring Dr. Michael Neufeld, curator at the National Air and Space Museum, speaking about the Apollo 8 Mission, in Omaha, 3.13.
Twenty staff members from the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center will visit the National Museum of American History for a day-long visit to tour exhibitions, collections and to meet staff, coming from Carlisle, 3.3.
The Heinz History Center hosts a talk and booksigning on the Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects by Richard Kurin, Undersecretary for History, Art and Culture, in Pittsburgh, 3.22.
The Hermitage Museum and Gardens will host their Affiliation Announcement, as well as a public lecture on Creating a Community of International Exchange by Jane Milosch, Smithsonian curator and Director of the Provence Research Initiative, in Norfolk, 3.27.
Special thanks to Paula Lee, Smithsonian Affiliations intern, for this guest post. This is the second of a five-part blog series she is writing as part of the Young Historians, Living Histories (YHLH) collaboration with the Asian Pacific American Center and our Affiliate network.
Students of the Montagnard community proudly representing the Smithsonian Museum and Greensboro Historical Center
Greensboro, North Carolina is home to the largest Montagnard community living not only in the United States, but outside of Vietnam which makes Greensboro, a pretty big deal. Today I’ll share what the Young Historians, Living Histories project has enabled the Smithsonian and its collaborators to discover in the recent weeks! Dean Macleod, Curator of Education at the Greensboro Historical Museum(Greensboro, North Carolina), guided me through some fascinating facts about the Montagnard community that he learned through interacting with the community’s youth.
French for “mountain people,” the Montagnard (pronounced mon-tuhn-yahrd), are the indigenous people of the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Due to political, religious, and land disputes initiated by the Communist majority of North and South Vietnam, the natives were evacuated from the highlands at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 through American efforts. The refugees began their resettlement to Greensboro, Raleigh and Charlotte, NC starting as early as 1986 in multiple but slow waves of immigration. There are as much as 9,000 Montagnard refugees in North Carolina with a majority in Greensboro, some of which have identified as Americans.
The diverse Montagnard youth unite to complete each role required for the interviewing processes.
With this in mind, Macleod approached the community with caution and respect and discovered that “the youth of the Montagnard community were thrilled that the Museum was engaging with them, and interested in digitizing their stories.” Although the 15 Montagnard students are of one community, they are unique to each other. Each student represented separate tribes as well as being refugees from different waves of immigration; some were born in Cambodia, others raised in Vietnam, and a few even born in America. Macleod remarks that the students’ involvement in the program was a way for them to feel like they were giving back for the sacrifices made by their ancestors.
The Montagnard stories in Greensboro even inspired other participating Affiliates to learn more. “I didn’t know anything about the Montagnard until hearing about this project. Thanks to the Greensboro Historical Museum, I’ve done a bit of research as a result,” said Shauna Tonkin, Director of Education at the Pacific Aviation Museum (Honolulu, Hawaii).
Because of this research, Greensboro Historical Center included the stories and artifacts in their Voices of a City: Greensboro North Carolina exhibition. This exhibit displays 300 years of local history that enlighten its viewers on the extraordinary stories that the city has to say about the community that shaped it.
Voices of a City Exhibition. Photo courtesy Greensboro Historical Center
Don’t forget to check back, next week’s entry will highlight students in action as we step into the spotlight and begin filming and interviewing!
Mic check ! Let’s get these stories heard.
Students are using Mac OS Editing Software to edit their videos.
Special thanks to Paula Lee, Smithsonian Affiliations intern, for this guest post. This is the first of a five-part blog series she is writing as part of the Young Historians, Living Histories (YHLH) collaboration with the Asian Pacific American Center and our Affiliate network.
Asian Pacific American youth representing the Young Historians, Living History after completing a workshop
Early this August, I had an extraordinary opportunity to join Smithsonian Affiliations as an intern directly assisting with the Young Historians, Living Histories grant. After a few weeks of researching the project, I spoke with Leah Craig, Curator of Education at the Oklahoma History Center, an Affiliate in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma History Center is one of nine Affiliate museums selected to receive the YHLH grant funded by the Smithsonian’s Youth Access Grant program. Additional Affiliates include Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (Seattle, WA), Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio, TX), Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, OH), Pacific Aviation Museum (Honolulu, HI), Sonoma County Museum (Santa Rosa, CA), Greensboro Historical Museum (Greensboro, NC), Riverside Metropolitan Museum (Riverside, CA), and Historic Arkansas Museum (Little Rock, AR).
This program is an educational initiative designed to engage underserved youth in Asian Pacific American communities by incorporating the use of digital media to produce oral histories. Being an Asian American myself, I was particularly thrilled at the chance to be involved in a project that hit so close to home. The Affiliates have collaborated with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (APAC) and the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) to provide essential curriculum guidelines that will be used to train educators to implement youth workshops. Participating Affiliates have recruited Asian Pacific American students to attend workshops at the museums. Middle and high school students will learn a variety of 21st-century skills, methods of community outreach, and digital storytelling to explore, contextualize, and deepen their understanding of Asian Pacific American history and culture.
Curator Leah Craig leading one of many workshops on Asian American history
While the Affiliates were busy recruiting students, Craig had already begun to lead a team of 20 gifted and talented students from Norman High School through active learning workshops. The workshops covered essential editing, filming, interviewing and a lesson in Asian Pacific American history with the help of teachers Margaret Wadleigh, LaRadius Allen, and Moving Image Archivist Corey Ayers. Students that participated in the workshop came from diverse cultural backgrounds and were placed in groups that encouraged them to share their stories and ideas as they began their transformation into historians seeking stories within the Asian Pacific American community. At only 1.9 percent, Oklahoma’s Asian American population isn’t large but according to the U.S. Census Bureau it includes a variety of Chinese, Korean, Pilipino, Burmese, and Hmong communities with significant Vietnamese and growing Indian communities. The program has enticed the young historians to become curious and research the immigration stories that attracted Asian Americans’ very first settlement into Oklahoma such as the Land Run in 1889.
Shoulder to Shoulder– Oklahoman students eager to learn the film making processes of oral histries in a workshop led by Moving Image Archivist, Corey Ayers
Craig boasts that “by conducting the oral histories students are helping us collect the history of our community from people with whom we may not have any other way to collect their stories.” Students were challenged to reveal the hidden struggles and accomplishments that Asian Pacific Americans in their own families/personal network had endured while en route, discovering a part of them that was never truly appreciated. Wadleigh, one of the two mentoring teachers, observed that the oral history element of this project engaged the students in a way that activated their “emotional” skills, skills that helped them discover powerful stories that couldn’t be told through any textbook. Look forward to future posts under the YHLH Series as we begin to unravel the unique stories hidden across the nation “oh the places we’ll go” when we’re looking!