The National Museum of Industrial History opened its doors on August 2, 2016. The Smithsonian’s very first Affiliate, the NMIH “forges connections between America’s industrial past and the innovations of today by educating the public and inspiring the visionaries of tomorrow” said NMIH Director, Amy Hollander. PBS39 recently aired this video showing the opening of the museum.
Washington, D.C. The National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, 5.5.
Smithsonian Affiliations welcomes staff from Affiliate organizations at a reception celebrating our 20th Anniversary on the first day of the American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting, 5.26
Florida Maria del Carmen Cossu, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service project manager, will serve as a juror at the Mayfaire Arts Festival at the Polk Museum of Art, 5.7.
The Mennello Museum of American Art opens Pop Art Prints, an exhibition of 37 items from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The installation includes works from the 1960s by Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, and others. The installation is part of a series that highlights objects from the collection that are rarely on public view, opening 5.6.
Missouri Last chance to see Above and Beyond at the Saint Louis Science Center. The exhibition celebrates the power of innovation to make dreams take flight and features two artifacts from the National Air and Space Museum. The exhibition closes 5.8.
Ohio The Ohio History Connection will host a videoconference featuring Dr. Jeremy Kinney, curator at the National Air and Space Museum. The videoconference will connect NASM with the Ohio History Connection and Stone Gardens Assisted Living Complex near Cleveland. Kinney will discuss the Enola Gay and its restoration while a curator from OHC will address the Ohio connections to the plane, 5.19.
Virginia Last chance to see two of George Washington’s battle swords together for the first time in over 200 years. One sword is on loan to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens from the National Museum of American History. Exhibit closes 5.30.
Idaho There’s still time to see Titanoboa: Monster Snake at the Idaho Museum of Natural History, an exhibition organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. On view through 6.12.
Special thanks to Sarah Dumas, Director of Education at the Oklahoma History Center, for this guest post.
On February 11 educators from the Oklahoma History Center (OHC) were invited by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to participate in its Let’s Do History Tourin Norman, Oklahoma. OHC Education Department staff provided a one-hour presentation about various programs offered by the Oklahoma History Center. The presentation included a detailed discussion of our traveling trunk program, with an opportunity for several unique learning experiences. Teachers explored and interacted with four different trunks. They also participated in two hands-on activities facilitated by our staff.
The first activity required teachers to investigate history by analyzing an artifact, and the second activity was to assemble a pioneer family and pack their wagon for a trip to Oklahoma Territory. It was certainly a fun afternoon for us, and it seemed the teachers enjoyed themselves as well. Perhaps the best part of the afternoon was when we returned to the museum and checked our email. Waiting in our inboxes were dozens of email requests for use of OHC resources, including the traveling trunks. In fact, of the fifty teachers who attended the workshop, almost half already made plans to participate in one of our programs or utilize our resources.
What a wonderful end to an exciting day with some fantastic teachers and the great folks at the National Museum of American History.
Special thanks for this guest post to Rachel Brummond. Rachel interned with the Affiliations office this spring and helped us build our e-marketing for the Smithsonian Affiliations Membership Program. Rachel is wrapping up her Junior year at Luther College in Iowa with a Major in Management/Political Science. Many, many thanks for everything Rachel!
My Dream: Living in DC with the Smithsonian in one hand and the Capital in the other!
I have dreamt of being a part of the Smithsonian Institution since I was a little girl on her first vacation to Washington, D.C. After that, when others wanted to be princesses, ballerinas, firefighters and policemen, I wanted to grow up to be THE curator of THE Smithsonian Museum. Little did I know that the Smithsonian is actually a network of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoo, and nine research facilities, each with their own curators, directors, membership staff, and programs. I also had no idea that the Smithsonian is a living organism that includes a nationwide partnership program that consists of more than 180 Affiliates in more than 40 states, Puerto Rico and Panama. That first trip marked the beginning of a remarkable journey to where I am today—an intern learning from the same organization that I ooh’d and ahh’d about as a child.
This spring I had the incredible opportunity to join the D.C. intern-pack as a membership communications intern at Smithsonian Affiliations, leading to some Seriously Amazing opportunities through the Smithsonian and specifically with the Affiliations office. I have visited countless museums, had private tours, attended share-fairs, and been thoroughly immersed in the culture and collaboration that the Smithsonian embodies. The Affiliations office has brought me a much better understanding of the nationwide partnerships that we facilitate, and of course has led to an extensive growth of my photo collection that documents my life in the nation’s capital!
Two of my favorite museums: The National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum!
Being an intern for the Smithsonian has been such a learning experience! Smithsonian curators and researchers have important and serious work to do, so it’s always fun to see a lighter side of their jobs from time to time. For instance, every April Fool’s day the National Museum of American History hosts a “conference on stuff” with a lighthearted theme for all Smithsonian staff and visitors. Harold Closter, director of our very own Affiliations office, emceed this year’s salt-themed event and had some very “punny” quips for the audience. It was so fun to see the Smithsonian staff operating in an off-the-cuff, fun, but still well-researched way! I was also encouraged to explore the Smithsonian in-between projects, so I took “museum Fridays” and went to discover as many Smithsonian museums as possible while I was here. I saw 12 of the 15 museums that are currently open and in D.C.—a considerable success that appeals to the learning buff in me!
One of the most memorable experiences was the arrival of The Nation’s T.Rex. To me, this loan really shows the amazing partnerships that the Smithsonian creates with Affiliates across the country. The Wankel T.rex was discovered in Montana and lived at the Museum of the Rockies, a fabulous Smithsonian Affiliate, for the past two decades. It was so fun to participate in the social media plan by crafting tweets to talk about the dino’s arrival and about its 50-year vacation to the National Museum of Natural History. What a fantastic way to outline the network and partnership program that the Affiliations office facilitates. I am so proud to have been a part of an Institution so committed to the increase and diffusion of knowledge—even if their audience doesn’t always live in the DC area.
That’s what the Affiliations office is all about, bringing the Smithsonian to people around the country in order to create access to the incredible collection of knowledge, artifacts, and amazing culture that embodies the Institution. It’s been an adventure to say the least, and I am so grateful that the Affiliations office was willing to have me as a part of their team!
Here it is! The Wankel T.Rex was one of my favorite projects. Special shout out to Museum of the Rockies!
Special thanks for this guest post to James “Zach” Zacharias, Senior Curator of Education and Curator of History at the Museum of Arts and Sciences Daytona Beach, Florida.
Zach Zacharias and Dr. Valerie Paul with “Highwaymen” on loan from fellow Affiliate, Orange County Regional History Center. Photo courtesy MOAS.
Several years ago the Daytona Beach Museum of Arts and Sciences (MOAS) was looking for ways to increase attendance during the traditionally slow month of September. After a few brainstorming sessions, the curatorial and education departments came up with a brilliant idea to tie September MOAS with the Smithsonian Affiliations program. Access to the Smithsonian’s vast offerings is a perfect fit for MOAS’s educational goals. We wanted to try something radical and different- something that had never been done before. Thus came September with the Smithsonian. It proved to be all we had hoped for, and now is in its third year.
This year we included Smithsonian Affiliates from around the state to lend their expertise to content. This year also marks the 500th Anniversary of the discovery of Florida by Juan Ponce de Leon. Florida has been celebrating with statewide initiative called Viva 500. Naturally, our theme for this year’s event focused on Florida’s history and natural history. The ideas revolve around having a Smithsonian related event every week during the month and on different days. The first key to success was to contact our Affiliate National Outreach Manager Alma Douglas and discuss our theme. With Alma’s expertise, she was able to guide us to the resources and make contacts for our event.
Our first week started out with Dr. Valerie Paul, Director of the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce. Her presentation, Exploring Florida’s Marine Environment, focused on the mission of the Smithsonian’s center and how it relates to Florida’s all-important ecosystems. Dr. Paul highlighted the cutting edge research that the Smithsonian is conducting for medical research and the important issues in Florida’s fragile coral reef ecosystems.
Our second week, Chuck Meide, Underwater Archaeologist from St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, a fellow Smithsonian Affiliate, gave a presentation on the underwater archaeological excavation of a colonial era shipwreck. It sank off the entrance of St. Augustine Inlet during the British loyalist evacuation of Charleston in 1782.
Dr. Kathleen Lyons in an interview with WROD’s Cadillac Jack at the MOAS Natural History Festival. Photo courtesy MOAS.
September with the Smithsonian heated up in the third week of the month with our annual weekend event MOAS Natural History Festival. It focused on the natural history of Florida and featured huge displays of fossils, shells, minerals and other specimens. Community partners such as the local Audubon Society, local fossil club, and many other organizations made this community event a hit with families. Dr. Kathleen Lyons from the Department of Paleobiology at the National Museum of Natural History presented two lectures focusing on the legacy of the giant ice age animals that once dominated Florida landscape from Giant Ground Sloths to Mastodons.
Members of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. Photo courtesy MOAS.
The Jazz Masterworks Orchestra conducted a matinee jazz show for kids called Swingin’ with the Smithsonian Junior. Young musicians from the community flocked to the performance to hear this great educational event. The musicians demonstrated their instruments, discussed the concept of jazz music, and focused the importance of playing an instrument no matter what age or level you are at.
The featured evening event was under the executive direction of Kennith Kimery and artistic director and principal saxophonist Charlie Young. With special guest vocalist Lena Seikaly, it showcased the music of legendary songstress Ella Fitzgerald. The audience was treated to some of Ella’s best and most famous works.
The Museum of Arts and Sciences, Daytona Beach Florida has developed a long-standing relationship with the Smithsonian Affiliations program to bring resources to our community that would normally be out of reach. The ability to bring in scholars, programs, and artifacts has allowed the MOAS to enrich our members and community and inspire lifelong learning.
Ok, so we can’t actually send 101 artifacts on the road all the time, but we can send Smithsonian Under Secretary for Art, History, and Culture Richard Kurin! Aided by a team of top Smithsonian curators and scholars, Richard’s new book The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects, is a literary exhibition of objects from across the Smithsonian that together offer a marvelous new perspective on the history of the United States.
After the success of his book tours in Affiliateland—Madcap May: Mistress of Myth, Men, and Hope and Hope Diamond: The Legendary Story of a Cursed Gem—Richard is looking forward to visiting Affiliates again and sharing these fascinating stories from American history.
Richard kicks off the Affiliate tour on Tuesday, November 12 at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. One of the unexpected selections in his book is a vial of Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine—which just happens to be on view at NMAJH in their Only In America gallery, on loan from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
Richard traveled to more than 10 Affiliates during his book tour for “Hope Diamond: The Legendary History of a Cursed Gem.”
Ranging from the earliest years of the pre-Columbian continent to the digital age, and from the American Revolution to Vietnam, each entry pairs the fascinating history surrounding each object with the story of its creation or discovery and the place it has come to occupy in our national memory. He sheds remarkable new light on objects we think we know well, from Lincoln’s hat to Dorothy’s ruby slippers and Julia Child’s kitchen, including the often astonishing tales of how each made its way into the collections of the Smithsonian. Other objects will be eye-opening new discoveries for many, but no less evocative of the most poignant and important moments of the American experience. Some objects, such as Harriet Tubman’s hymnal, Sitting Bull’s ledger, Cesar Chavez’s union jacket, and the Enola Gay bomber, tell difficult stories from our nation’s history, and inspired controversies when exhibited at the Smithsonian. Others, from George Washington’s sword to the space shuttle Discovery, celebrate the richness and vitality of the American spirit. In his words, each object comes to life, providing a near-tactile connection to American history.
Photo courtesy Smithsonian Institution.
Publishers Weekly called it a “humanistic approach to storytelling (he even includes digressions on things that didn’t make it in, like the ubiquitous stuffed animal named after the first President Roosevelt: the Teddy Bear) which makes for immersive, addictive reading.”
Beautifully designed and illustrated with color photographs throughout, The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects is a rich and fascinating journey through America’s collective memory, and a beautiful object in its own right.
Interested in booking Richard for a speaking engagement and book signing at your organization? Contact your National Outreach Manager. Availability is February 2014- June 2014.
Interested in stocking your shelves with a great gift? Pre-order here!