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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.

October 27, 2009

Coming up in Affiliateland

Filed under: enewsletter feature,General,You Heard It Here First — Tags: , , , , , — Jennifer Brundage @ 10:00 am
bannerrosegarden

SITES' exhibition on White House gardens, opening in Illinois.

What’s going on at Affiliates in November?

MARYLAND:  Staff of the B & O Railroad Museum in Baltimore receive training with educators from the Smithsonian’s Early Enrichment Center, 11.5.

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum sponsors a “Get on the Bus” tour from D.C. to Baltimore,  featuring SITES’ project director Marquette Folley,  11.7.

ILLINOIS:  The  Jeweled Objects of Desire exhibition featuring 43 objects from the gem and minerals collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History opens at the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art in Elmhurst, 11.7.

The Dixon Historic Center opens SITES’ The White House Garden exhibition in Dixon, 11.14.

NEW HAMPSHIRE:  Outreach Manager Jennifer Brundage will be attending the New England Museum Association conference in Nashua, 11.11-14.

September 21, 2009

Share and Share Alike

Filed under: Conference Ideas,General,You Heard It Here First — Tags: , , — Jennifer Brundage @ 6:29 pm

This morning I had the pleasure of talking about the Affiliations program with staff from two Affiliates, the Heinz History Center and the B & O Railroad Museum.  But we weren’t talking about the Smithsonian’s Affiliations program – we were talking about theirs.

borail

Both the Heinz History Center and the B & O Museum have created Affiliate programs, which were the topic of a panel discussion today entitled “Share and Share Alike” at the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and Historical Association’s annual meeting in Gettysburg.  Their programs are structured very differently, which made for an interesting compare and contrast in regard to costs, benefits and challenges.  But we discovered many commonalities too.

The Heinz Center’s Affiliate Program (HCAP) encompasses historical societies, libraries, museums, even cemeteries across Western Pennsylvania.  Nearly 100 organizations have affiliated with the History Center, seeking help and advice on issues ranging from cleaning metal objects to writing label copy.

The B & O Railroad Museum’s program is more formal and structured, a tiered approach with escalating benefits that include discounts on branded retail items and reduced admission for members.  Contrary to expectations, the B & O’s affiliates are not limited to other railroad museums; it also attracts historical societies with ties to the railroad industry in West Virginia and Maryland.

But both programs have alot in common.  It takes the entire staff of both museums to make the program work, and staff members are committed to sharing their expertise and providing a range of services to their affiliate networks.  They agree that a primary difference between their Affiliate programs and other types of associations or memberships (AASLH or AAM for example), is the opportunity to share artifacts.  Truly, nothing can replace the power of the real thing, as every museum professional knows.  hcaptree

We were fortunate to have a staff member from one of the Heinz Center’s Affiliates in the audience, who provided an insight that I’m confident B & O’s Affiliates share.  More than anything, she appreciated the access to personalized, customized, one-to-one mentoring available through the program.  Nothing can replace the power of that kind of relationship either.

 

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