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July 30, 2012

invention invention everywhere!

Since Smithsonian Affiliations started collaborating with the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History, we’ve learned a lot about Places of Invention.  (See this blog to learn more about our collaboration.) 

Affiliate staff and their community partners, on the roof of the National Museum of American History during the kickoff workshop for Places of Invention

Affiliates have joined the action too.  On June 15, Affiliate staff and their community partners joined a day-long workshop to kickoff their individual research projects around their own communities and what makes them so innovative.  (Read more about the kickoff workshop on the Lemelson Center’s blog, Bright Ideas.)

Now, we are all much more attuned to what makes a place of invention – be it exceptional natural resources, the right mixture of people and skills, or an inspiring location… or something else.  Invention was readily on view during a recent trip to western Massachusetts, and we suspect, can be documented in many other communities as well.

Join the quest for invention and share your stories with us!

 

April 24, 2012

kudos Affiliates! may 2012

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) $17 million in grants for 208 humanities projects, including the following Affiliates:

  • City of Las Cruces Museum System (Las Cruces, New Mexico) received $1,000 to host the NEH traveling exhibition Bison.
  •  Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and Carriages (Long Island, New York) was awarded $286,014 for the installation and interpretation of the exhibitions-Carriage Museum’s Streets of New York and Carriages for Sport and Pleasure-about the social and economic history of horse-drawn transportation in New York City circa 1900.
  •  Ellen Noel Art Museum of the Permian Basin (Odessa, Texas) will receive $1,000 to host the NEH traveling exhibition Grass Roots.
  •  Buffalo Bill Historical Center (Cody, Wyoming) was awarded $40,000 to develop a traveling exhibition- Enduring Legacies of the Great Plains: The Paul Dyck Collection- a view on Plains Indian cultures as documented in a collection of materials from the pre-reservation and early reservation periods.

The Grammy Foundation has awarded a $20,000 grant to the Oklahoma Historical Society (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) to restore and preserve about 600 hours of Bob Wills’ music recorded in the 1940s.

The McAllen City Commission approved plans for a nearly $277,000 facelift for the International Museum of Art and Science (McAllen, Texas). Under the plan, McAllen would re-orient the museum’s loading docks, build a new steel-and-concrete walkway and install blue lights to illuminate the building at night.

A collection of early textile machines at the American Textile History Museum (Lowell, Massachusetts) has been recognized by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for its historic significance to 19th century engineering and technology.

 

February 27, 2012

do you live in a place of invention?

 

The iconic Hewlett-Packard garage in 2009. Courtesy of BrokenSphere/ Wikimedia Commons.

Company labs.  Governmental research centers.  Universities.  These places are where many of us think inventions happen.  But how about garages, coffee shops, parks, or other community gathering spots?!  Invention can happen in all kinds of places.  This idea forms the foundation of the Lemelson Center’s exhibition in development, Places of Invention.  It’s about communities “where people, resources, and spaces have come together to spark inventiveness.”  Does that describe your environment?  If so, consider contributing your story to the Places of Invention exhibition website.

The Lemelson Center team has assembled case studies of historic and contemporary invention hubs – Hartford, CT in the late 1800s; Hollywood, CA in the 1930s-40; Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN in the 1950s-60s; Silicon Valley, CA and the Bronx, NY in the 1970s-80s; and Fort Collins, CO today.  Over the course of the next year, the exhibition team will work closely with six Affiliates to create community documentation projects of their places of invention to be featured in the exhibition.  Affiliate partners in this project include: the Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, PA); American Museum of Science and Energy (Oakridge, TN); Museum of History and Industry (Seattle, WA); Lakeview Museum (Peoria, IL); American Textile History Museum (Lowell, MA); and The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art and Technology (Newark, OH).

But we know there are many more stories to be told.  Take the Lemelson Center’s survey or email them at lemcen@si.edu to describe your place of invention and join the conversation!

December 4, 2010

SI and Affiliates collaborate on Places of Invention

 

 

Places of Invention is a planned exhibition at the National Museum of American History organized  by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.  Scheduled to open in 2014, it will feature a selection of “hot spots” of invention and innovation—places where a critical mass of inventive people, networks, institutions, funding and other resources come together and creativity flourishes. Focusing on the mid-19th century to the present, each exhibition area will have hands-on experiences illustrating the ways that place and social collaboration shape the inventive process.

Places of Invention represents a new model in exhibition design, where content will be co-created in a collaborative manner by the center, professional partners and the public.   That’s where Affiliates come inPlaces of Invention has received a $2.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation which will, in part, support a community documentation project and related programming at six Affiliates.  Affiliates with strong emphases on invention in their own missions will receive training to work with a community partner to document what makes their city a “place of invention.”  Affiliates for the pilot phase of the initiative include: the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, TN; The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art and Technology in Newark, OH; York County Culture and Heritage Museums in Rock Hill, SC; the Women’s Museum in Dallas, TX; the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, PA; and the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, MA.

Their photographs, interviews, videos, oral histories, archives and more will become a part of the Places of Invention exhibition at the Smithsonian, inviting others to view their cities in new ways.

For more on the grant and project, read the press release.  The pilot phase is set to begin in Fall 2011, so watch out for more updates as the project progresses.  In the meantime, congratulations to our Lemelson Center and Affiliate colleagues on this unique collaboration!

March 26, 2010

how will you commemorate the Civil War’s 150th anniversary?

cwdrummer

Winslow Homer's 1862 Study of a Drummer, in the collection of the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

Here at Affiliations, we’ve been hearing about all kinds of plans to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.   Thinking about borrowing artifacts?  Looking for a speaker for a conference or public program?  Wonder what kinds of exhibitions other museums are organizing?   Here’s what we’ve heard so far from inside the Smithsonian and around the Affiliate network.

 

For the Smithsonian, the best and first stop to view the vast and manifold collections on this topic is the Civil War@Smithsonian website.  There, artifacts from several Smithsonian museums are grouped under such topics as Slavery & Abolition, Soldiering, Life & Culture, Leaders and Abraham Lincoln, among others.  (The site even talks about the various ways that the Smithsonian itself was involved in the Civil War.) 

 

And speaking of Lincoln, you’ll find a treasure trove of resources (and possible speakers) at the Lincoln Online Conference site, sponsored by the Center for Education and Museum Studies.   Here, Smithsonian scholars discuss a wide range of issues related to our 16th President from Lincoln’s Air Force to Mathew Brady’s photographs. 

 

For even more ideas on programming or group tour itineraries, turn to the Smithsonian Associates’ Civil War Studies site.  You can also sign up here for the Civil War Studies enewsletter for up-to-date program information and original essays exploring all facets of the War.  Want to hear about the largest stash of money ever discovered?   Invite American History numismatics curator Richard Doty to talk to your audiences about confederate currency, and show a few examples from our collection.

 

If you’re an art museum, don’t despair – you might be interested in what the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum is planning to commemorate the War.  Better Angels of Our Nature: Art During the Civil War and Reconstruction will examine the impact of the Civil War and its aftermath on visual arts in America.   Information on commemorative exhibitions at the Portrait Gallery will be posted soon so watch out for that.

 

And how about in Affiliateland?  Many Affiliates are already planning commemorations of their own.  Here are some of the plans we’ve heard about so far:

 

-          the Frazier International History Museum (Louisville, KY) is planning a Civil War symposium, update to its permanent exhibition, & a traveling show called My Brother My Enemy

-          the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar (Richmond, VA) is partnering with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Alabama) on a 2011 Civil War Conference

-          the American Textile History Museum (Lowell, MA) is organizing a traveling exhibition on Civil War textiles

-          the Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, PA) will be one of three sites to host a major Civil War exhibition and will produce two publications on photography and the role of African Americans in the Civil War, as part of PA 150,  a major statewide commemoration  

-          the African American Museum in Philadelphia (PA) has already opened the Audacious Freedoms exhibition which explores the Underground Railroad, African American soldiers in the Civil War, and other topics

-          B & O Museum (Baltimore, MD) is planning a Civil War Railroading exhibition and symposium.

 

What are you planning?  Leave us a comment and let us know.

December 7, 2009

affiliates in the news!

Congratulations to all the Affiliates making headlines last week!

New York State Museum (Albany, New York)
‘Coywolves’ a product of evolution
Fishers, the newest predator in the CNY wildlife scene

Museum of the Rockies (Bozeman, Montana)
MSU study explores violent world of raptors
How Raptors Use Their Deadly Talons
Videos, claws reveal how raptors use talons. Study: Killing methods include dismemberment, squeezing prey to death

Union Station Kansas City (Kansas City, Missouri)
How 2 cities revived old train stations: Kansas City and Nashville could be models for Detroit

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Raleigh, North Carolina)
SECU Supports Museum of Natural Sciences
State Employees’ Credit Union Members Promote Statewide Education Effort with Support of SECU Daily Planet

Greensboro Historical Museum (Greensboro, North Carolina)
NC Finally Recognizes Pre-Woolworth Sit-Ins In 1957

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture (Baltimore, Maryland)
Lewis Museum to honor ‘rebel music.’ Event Friday linked to Montgomery bus boycott exhibit.

American Textile History Museum (Lowell, Massachusetts)
ATHM becomes Smithsonian Affiliate

Buffalo Bill Historical Center (Cody, Wyoming)
BBHC Receives Second Grant to See and Hear Yellowstone

June 30, 2009

Textile Revolution!

What do sheep and baseballs have in common?

Textile Revolution: An Exploration through Space and Time

Textile Revolution: An Exploration through Space and Time exhibition entrance

 

 
WOOL!

WOOL!

This is one of the many intriguing questions answered in the new permanent exhibition, Textile Revolution: An Exploration through Space and Time at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts.

On June 19, the Museum cut the ribbon on their own revolution.  Having been closed for two years, the Museum reopened with updated, interactive displays that tell the history of American textiles, up to the present.  “Most people have no idea how their lives are shaped by textiles – far beyond the clothing they wear,” said Jim Coleman, the Museum’s President and CEO.  Indeed, the exhibition moves the visitor though spinning yarn in the home in pre-industrial times (hence, where we get the term “spinster“) to contemporary textiles that encompass cars, high-performance bicycles, and “sharkskin” suits worn by Olympic swimmers.

Carbon fibers woven into a high-performance bicycle frame.

Carbon fibers woven into high-performance bicycle frames.

Lowell Mayor “Bud” Caulfield called the renovated Museum “a jewel in Lowell’s cultural landscape.”    Through its innovative approach to illuminating the history of textiles and the importance of textiles to the scientific, medical, aeronautic fields and beyond, the Museum is truly a jewel in America’s cultural landscape.  With tens of thousands of textiles spread across at least 6 Smithsonian museums, we can’t wait to get started collaborating with the Museum to enhance the story through our Affiliate partnership.

Kudos to the Museum – its staff, board, donors and supporters - on a job well done!

Museum stakeholders cut the ribbon to the new Museum and permanent exhibition.

Museum stakeholders cut the ribbon to the new Museum and permanent exhibition.

 

The Museum really knows how to celebrate!

The Museum really knows how to celebrate!

 

 

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