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October 29, 2014

affiliates in the news- November 2014

Congrats to these Affiliates making news! Each month we highlight Affiliate-Smithsonian and Affiliate-Affiliate collaborations making headlines.  If you have a clipping highlighting a collaboration with the Smithsonian or with a fellow Affiliate you’d like to have considered for the Affiliate blog, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee.

Poverty Point State Historic Site (West Carroll, Louisiana)
Poverty Point to celebrate World Heritage Site designation Saturday
According to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, Poverty Point is the 22nd World Heritage Site in the United States. Dardenne’s office states that Poverty Point was the U.S. Department of the Interior’s lone nomination for world heritage status-adding to the site’s accolades as a National Historic Landmark, National Monument and Smithsonian Affiliate. 

George Catlin, Buffalo Chase, Bulls Making Battle with Men and Horses. 1832-1833, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.

George Catlin, Buffalo Chase, Bulls Making Battle with Men and Horses. 1832-1833, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.

Mennello Museum of Art (Orlando, Florida)
Mennello Museum opens final exhibits in 15th-anniversary season
The Mennello Museum of American Art is wrapping up its 15th-anniversary year with two exhibitions that opened Oct. 3…The two new exhibitions are “George Catlin’s American Buffalo,” on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and “The Taos Society of Artists,” an original exhibition curated by museum executive director Frank Holt. The exhibitions run through Jan. 4, 2015.

The Majesty of the Buffalo, Captured on Canvas [16 Images]
In Great Falls, the exhibit was received enthusiastically, and the museum saw an uptick in attendance. “We’re delighted to have this quality of an exhibition from the Smithsonian,” Burt said, adding that the scenes provided Native Americans with “a great opportunity” for insight into their ancestors’ lifeways and the scenery of the plains.

space-center-houston-smithsonianSpace Center Houston (Houston, Texas)
Space Center Houston is 1st Smithsonian Affiliate in Houston
Space Center Houston is now a member of the Smithsonian’s crew. Space Center Houston, which serves as the official visitor center for NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas, is officially the first museum in Houston to be named a Smithsonian Affiliate.

Another giant leap for Space Center Houston
In a giant leap toward preserving the history of space exploration, Space Center Houston became the city’s first Smithsonian Affiliate on Oct. 8

Witte Museum (San Antonio, Texas)
Witte Museum announces Smithsonian partnership
We purposely waited to become a Smithsonian Affiliate because we’re in a great transformation right now at the museum and we thought it would be the perfect way to say we’re a top-tier museum,” said Marise McDermott, Witte Museum president and CEO.

Witte now a Smithsonian affiliate
The Witte Museum is now a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate. As a member of the program, the Witte will be able to borrow objects from the Smithsonian’s permanent collection and tap into its resources. “It’s such a great time for the Witte to have an affiliation,” said Marise McDermott, president and CEO of the Witte, who will announce the affiliation at a news conference this morning. “Before we were so focused on growing our campus, and now we’re ready to integrate with a national museum.”

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Berkshire Museum (Pittsfield, Massachusetts)
Smithsonian Leaders Hail Berkshire Museum SparkLab Partnership
“We think that real innovation will happen in this space,” according to Claudine Brown, Assistant Secretary of Education & Access at the Smithsonian. “Every SparkLab is different, and this one is architecturally beautiful.”

Spark!Lab is hands-on science at Berkshire Museum
Berkshire Museum Executive Director Van Shields said, while tinkering on his own Snap Circuits project, that Spark!Lab will “stimulate the kind of creativity and innovative thinking that was the beginning of the journey” of bringing the museum into the 21st century.

biomuseoThe Biomuseo (Panama)
Biomuseo Showcases Panama’s Ecological Diversity
Panama, the Biomuseo proclaims, became a “bridge of life” (the title of its permanent exhibition) and a fountain of biodiversity. Just a bit bigger than Ireland, it has more species of birds, amphibians and animals (if insects are included) than the United States and Canada combined, according to George R. Angehr, a research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. (The Biomuseo is an affiliate of the Smithsonian, which along with the University of Panama helped develop its scientific content.)

Wondrous or hideous? Frank Gehry-designed natural history museum opens to fanfare in Panama
A natural history museum designed by famed architect Frank Gehry opened in Panama City this week. The Biomuseo — a project first conceived nearly 15 years ago and hampered by all kinds of issues — welcomed in the public for the first time Thursday.

Idaho Museum of Natural History (Pocatello, Idaho)
Asian Pacific American History exhibit on display at IMNH
Asian and Pacific Americans make up more than five percent of the U.S. population—more than 17 million people—and those numbers are growing. Their ancestral roots represent more than 50 percent of the world, extending from East Asia to Southeast Asia, and from South Asia to the Pacific Islands and Polynesia. In commemoration of this important history, “I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story” opened at the Idaho Museum of Natural History (IMNH), on September 20 and will run through November 30. “I Want the Wide American Earth” was created by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). The exhibition is supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Smithsonian exhibit heads to local museum
“It’s pretty exciting because we are a Smithsonian-affiliated museum…and we only get it for ten weeks so it’s here before it heads-off to California, so unless you are planning on traveling to California, you won’t get to see it,” Tews said.

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making the smithsonian-affiliate connection

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Offering the Smithsonian Affiliate Membership is a great way to connect the Smithsonian and your local audience.

This year, Affiliates and the Smithsonian have worked together to develop the Smithsonian Affiliate Membership Toolbox. The Toolbox is a marketing package chock- full of Smithsonian resources and actionable ideas to make the connection between the Smithsonian and members.

What is the Toolbox?
In September, Smithsonian Affiliations launched the first annual Smithsonian Membership Drive and delivered the Toolbox to Affiliates.
The Toolbox includes:

  • Smithsonian media resources
  • Websites and program schedules from the Smithsonian to share with new and renewing members
  • Activities to engage visitors with Smithsonian loans, exhibitions and connect them through social media across the Affiliate network

SA_rack_card-Offering a Smithsonian Affiliate Membership as part of your organizational membership program is an exclusive benefit of a Smithsonian affiliation.

  • Exclusive Affiliate Benefit
    Are you one of the 100+ Affiliates attracting and renewing local members annually with the inclusion of the Smithsonian Affiliate membership in your museum’s membership package? Share the full list of Smithsonian Affiliate membership benefits with your audience.
  • Regional Ambassadors
    Affiliates are the Smithsonian’s regional ambassadors across the country – the Smithsonian looks to your organization to steward, engage, and renew joint Smithsonian – Affiliate members annually. Coordinate your Smithsonian programs and events with a Smithsonian Affiliate membership to bring added value to your membership package and build ongoing support.
  • Share your Smithsonian connection with your local members
    Your members may not make it to Washington, D.C., but can experience the Smithsonian at your organization. Joint benefits and programming make the link between the Smithsonian and your members.
  • Unique Membership Benefits
    Extend national benefits to your members who enjoy local benefits at your affiliated museum.

Want more information? Contact Christina DiMeglio Lopez, External Affairs Manager.

call for ideas for the 2015 Affiliations Conference

Affiliate staff enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour at the 2014 Affiliations conference.

Affiliate staff enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour at the 2014 Affiliations conference.

Mark your calendars now for the annual Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference, June 15-17, 2015.  The conference strives to engage Affiliate and Smithsonian colleagues in dialogues about current issues, best practices and collaboration potential.

Most conference sessions feature both Affiliate and Smithsonian staff, and highlight timely and relevant topics facing the field today.  The staff of Affiliations is in full planning mode now, and would love to hear from you.  Below are some topics we have been discussing as possible sessions and/or tours.  What would you add to the list?  Can you lend expertise or perspective to any of the topics?

Thanks in advance for helping us plan the best conference possible!

Ideas under consideration as tours or sessions:

  • Millenials – how to attract and engage them, and make them members.
  • Branding – Ideas for Affiliates as brand ambassadors, and as SI highlighted content
  • Visiting Professional alumni – what did they do with their SI experience?
  • Music Initiative – what SI and Affiliates are doing, and how can we do it together?
  • Connecting art and science
  • Mentorship writ large
  • Cocktail history as a hot new programming tool
  • Crowdsourced projects – can we grow them together?

If you have other ideas to share for the 2015 conference, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee at bugbeee@si.edu.

October 14, 2014

road report: the smithsonian in sunny california

On the road in sunny California!

On the road in sunny California!

Three and a half days, 559 miles and visits to eight Smithsonian Affiliates in southern California, only just begins to describe my recent trip to the west coast.  I had traveled to Los Angeles to attend the opening event for Cahuilla Continuum: Túku, Ívax, Túleka, the Riverside Metropolitan Museum’s exhibition telling the story of a Southern California Native people, the Cahuilla.  This gave me the welcome opportunity of visiting the Smithsonian Affiliates in and surrounding Los Angeles.  The following is a recap of my whirlwind tour.

Cerritos Library

Cerritos Library

I should start by saying that with 23 Smithsonian Affiliates, California has more Smithsonian Affiliates than any other state in the union.  Most states have three or four (and we have yet to Affiliate with a few states) but the diversity of California’s cultural landscape is certainly well represented in our west coast partners.

Cerritos Library, is a library (and Smithsonian Affiliate) like few others.  There is an aquarium, reading labs, exhibition spaces and an art collection. It was terrific to see the community using this resource so thoroughly.

laplaza_garden

The garden at LA Plaza through the grey metal gates.

On day 2, I visited LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, a wonderful space in a historic building- often so rare in the west.  The garden takes advantage of the hot California sun to teach students about nutrition and agriculture.

The Apollo Boilerplate at Columbia Memorial Space Center, on loan from the National Air and Space Museum.

The Apollo Boilerplate at Columbia Memorial Space Center, on loan from the National Air and Space Museum.

In the afternoon, I visited the Columbia Memorial Space Center, home to an Apollo “Boilerplate,” on loan from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.  Then I headed towards northeast toward Alta Loma to visit one of our newest Smithsonian Affiliates, the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts.  The visit to this woodworker artist’s home gave me a better understanding of the huge impact his work has had in the art world.

Here I am in a Sam Maloof chair.

Here I am in a Sam Maloof chair.

The next day, my morning began with a visit to a school on an Indian reservation; the Riverside Metropolitan Museum had brought two scholars from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian as part of their annual Smithsonian Week in Riverside.  The students asked great questions and shared their own experiences with the visitors from DC.  We stopped in at the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum in Palm Springs, also a Smithsonian Affiliate, to see their latest exhibition, Through You, Our Ancient Leaders, We Became: Birth of the Agua Caliente Band.

Michael Hammond, Director of Agua Caliente Cultural Museum and Sarah Mundy, Director of Riverside Metropolitan Museum in front of the display case holding the artifacts on loan from the National Museum of the American Indian.

Michael Hammond, Director of Agua Caliente Cultural Museum and Sarah Mundy, Director of Riverside Metropolitan Museum in front of the display case holding the artifacts on loan from the National Museum of the American Indian.

On the last day of my visit I

Students explore study collections after Jill Norwood and Emil Her Many Horses from the National Museum of the American Indian spoke to students during Smithsonian Week in Riverside.

Students explore study collections after Jill Norwood and Emil Her Many Horses from the National Museum of the American Indian spoke to students during Smithsonian Week in Riverside.

stopped in on two Affiliates: Millard Sheets Art Center in Pomona and the Western Science Center in Hemet, both doing great work connecting their communities with educational resources.  I ended my day with the event that had brought me to California: the Riverside Metropolitan Museum was celebrating the opening of their Cahuilla Continuum exhibition, which included three artifacts from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.  They were deservedly proud of their work and we were proud of the wonderful partnership between Riverside (and all of the terrific Affiliates in California) and the Smithsonian.

October 9, 2014

Road Report: Houston, We Have Affiliate Liftoff!

Road Report- Harold, October 8, 2014

Houston, we have liftoff!

The first thing you see when you pull into the parking lot of Space Center Houston is a full-scale space shuttle replica perched upon a NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.  It’s a neck-stretching sight, and an awesome introduction to the many wonders of our new Smithsonian Affiliate.

Space shuttle replica atop a NASA shuttle carrier

Space shuttle replica atop a NASA shuttle carrier

Opened in 1992, Space Center Houston boggles your brain, tugs at your heart, and sparks your imagination at every turn – it’s the story of spaceflight under one (very large) roof, with many more roofs (and displays) next door at the Johnson Space Center.

Richard Allen, Chief Executive Officer, Space Center Houston, in front of Mercury Space Capsule on loan from the National Air and Space Museum.

Richard Allen, Chief Executive Officer, Space Center Houston, in front of Mercury Space Capsule on loan from the National Air and Space Museum.

Richard Allen, Space Center Houston chief executive officer, and his hard working staff have created a diverse array of engaging experiences – large-format film theaters, interactive spaces for children of all ages, demonstration stages led by knowledgeable and enthusiastic interpreters, and dramatically lit exhibitions that tell the inspiring history of the U.S. space program –  its triumphs, tragedies, and enduring influence on our dreams of the future.

Mars Rover prototype on loan from NASM.

Mars Rover prototype on loan from NASM.

Of course, it was a pleasure to see so many artifacts on loan from our National Air and Space Museum (NASM), employed to give an accurate and detailed rendering of the history of spaceflight – command modules like the “Faith 7” Mercury capsule, Gemini 5 and Apollo 17, spacesuits worn by astronauts Michael Collins, Pete Conrad and “Wally” Schirra, a walkthrough Skylab, and a Mars rover prototype – to name just a few.  If you take the tour of the Johnson Space Center, you’ll also see a lovingly restored Saturn V Rocket, also on loan from NASM, displayed horizontally in a building nearly 400 feet long.  The thought of sitting atop this engineering marvel, waiting to be propelled to the moon, sends shivers down your spine.

Richard Allen and Meg Naumann, Director of Development, in front of the Saturn V rocket, also on loan from NASM.

Richard Allen and Meg Naumann, Director of Development, in front of the Saturn V rocket, also on loan from NASM.

There’s never enough time to see everything going on at an Affiliate museum or to meet all of the incredible folks who make it happen –  staff, volunteers, and supporters – but after a day-and-a half in San Antonio, at The Witte Museum and the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, and six hours at Space Center Houston, I came away with the distinct impression that “The Lone Star State” has a lot more than one star in its firmament.  We are honored that so many Texas luminaries populate our galaxy of Smithsonian Affiliates.

Catch up on Harold’s Witte Museum blog here.

October 8, 2014

road report: Harold in San Antonio

I had the pleasure of announcing our new Affiliation with The Witte Museum in San Antonio on October 7, 2014.  By coincidence The Witte was also celebrating its 88th birthday, so it was a double pleasure.  Marise McDermott, President and CEO presided over the announcement ceremony which included San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor and City Council member Keith Toney.  Kind words were spread all around; as always I was humbled and honored to represent the Smithsonian.

San Antonio River runs by the Witte Museum, creating a 13 mile trail from Breckenridge Park to downtown.

San Antonio River runs by the Witte Museum, creating a 13 mile trail from Breckenridge Park to downtown.

I met many wonderful people at the Witte and discovered interesting connections between the Witte and the Smithsonian, especially in the field of paleontology and archaeology.  Dinosaurs once ruled south Texas, and Witte Museum Curator of Paleontology and Geology, Thomas Adams, Ph.D., is literally hot on their trail – uncovering dino tracks and other significant fossil remains.  Harry Shafer, Ph.D, Witte Museum Curator of Archeology, Professor Emeritus at Texas A&M University,  has been studying rock art along the lower Pecos River, among the most sophisticated finds in North America.

San Antonio's Chili Queens are alive and well (and widely appreciated) at the Witte Museum.

San Antonio’s Chili Queens are alive and well (and widely appreciated) at the Witte Museum.

The Smithsonian has many long-term interests in San Antonio.  The Smithsonian American Art Museum includes works by artists, Jesse Trevino and Mel Casas; Smithsonian Folkways documents the musical heritage of San Antonio, from legendary corrido singer Lydia Mendoza to Grammy Award winning Los Texmaniacs; and the Smithsonian Magazine recently paid tribute to San Antonio’s fabulous Chili Queens, 19th century food entrepreneurs who helped make the taco the world’s favorite meal.

The new South Texas Heritage Center at the Witte Museum -- a taste of more to come.

The new South Texas Heritage Center at the Witte Museum — a taste of more to come.

There’s a lot going on at the Witte on which to build our partnership and more to come when the museum completes Phase II of its grand expansion project in 2017.

Angelica Docog and Aaron Parks of the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, our other Affiliate in San Antonio, joined the festivities and then brought me back to see an amazing exhibit on Texas Quilts on display in their facility in Hemisphere Park.  We talked about several new exhibits they are planning to install including one on Sikh history and culture from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Angelica filled me in on the success of their Smithsonian Youth Access Grant, Young Historians/Living Histories and how it helped the Institute build bridges to San Antonio’s Korean community.

What would a Texas be without a long-horned steer?  This might be one of the longest long-horns.

What would a Texas be without a long-horned steer? This might be one of the longest long-horns.

One cannot visit San Antonio without feeling a sense of vibrancy – a growing city with a strong economy, a major convention and tourist destination, a proud history and a bright future.  How wonderful to see our Affiliate colleagues leading the charge.

Tomorrow, I get to announce another new Affiliate – Space Center Houston.  It’s a good week for lifting off!

September 30, 2014

another way to bring the Smithsonian to your door

Dr. Kurin visited the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia in November 2013. Photo courtesy NMAJH.

Dr. Kurin visited the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia in November 2013. Photo courtesy NMAJH.

You may have caught him in an Affiliate neighborhood in the past year—he’s been to more than 8 Affiliates—or read his new book The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects. But did you know you can now learn from Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture anywhere you can download him?!

Based on Richard Kurin’s popular book, the Experiencing America course—the first in a new partnership between the Smithsonian and The Great Courses—reveals the stories behind iconic American artifacts, including President Abraham Lincoln’s hat, Dorothy’s ruby slippers, George Washington’s sword, Harriet Tubman’s hymnal and even the Space Shuttle Discovery. Eye-opening and thought-provoking lectures share surprising takes on both familiar objects and little-known artifacts of profound importance to American history.

“When you’re in intimate proximity to one of these objects…you have a link to that sweeping history. History is not distant. It’s not a stranger.” –Richard Kurin

We are always on the lookout for ways to bring engaging, educational content from the Smithsonian to Affiliate neighborhoods and are delighted that Dr. Kurin has visited so many Affiliate communities. This new collaboration with The Great Courses offers yet another way to experience the Smithsonian.

“It’s been a real treat visiting Smithsonian Affiliates and giving public talks about The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects as well as having quality time to visit with staff . The hospitality of our colleagues and the welcoming audiences have been uplifting. And everywhere I’ve been, from the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh to the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane, from the Polk Museum of Art in Florida to the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre, among others, I’ve connected Affiliate collections to Smithsonian icons, regional stories to national ones, generating a wonderful response.”

Dr. Kurin gives an animated talk at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh in March 2014.

Dr. Kurin gave an animated talk at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh in March 2014.

Affiliates interested in bringing Dr. Kurin to their communities should contact their Affiliations National Outreach Manager for more information.

Additional resources:

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