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August 29, 2014

where the buffalo roam

On Saturday, August 30, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo will bring back the American bison in a new exhibit and habitat.  Zora and Wilma are not only beautiful animals, but they also serve as an important reminder about conservation and the Zoo’s inception. In 1887, American bison wandered the National Mall, helping to bring awareness to the endangerment of the species. Two years later, Congress passed legislation to found the National Zoo, celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

Bison roam around the Smithsonian Castle

Bison roam around the Smithsonian Castle, 1887-89

At Affiliations, we are wallowing in the excitement of welcoming these magnificent animals to Washington. So we decided to scan our herd of partners, to see where else the mighty American bison are roaming among Affiliate plains. We found a virtual stampede of bison content in Affiliateland!

- It seems appropriate to start in Wyoming, at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. After all, it was “Buffalo Bill” Cody who offered the Smithsonian a herd of 18 bison in 1888. Painfully, the gift had to be refused for lack of space on the National Mall.  But today, you can find plenty of bison material at the Buffalo Bill Center in Cody. The Center’s museums house an impressive collection of art depicting “Nature’s Cattle,” including beautiful Audubon prints as well as Native artifacts made from the bison, and natural history specimens.

"Scout" at the Durham Museum in Omaha.

“Scout” at the Durham Museum in Omaha

- It was a Nebraska rancher who donated the very first bison to the Smithsonian’s collection, so it seems natural to travel on to Omaha to visit “Scout,” the beloved bison on view at the Durham Museum. At 7 ½’ high and 10’ long, this magnificent specimen helps to tell the important story of the Midwest’s history with the bison. As part of their bison interpretation, the Durham Museum uses the online resource Tracking the Buffalo from the National Museum of American History. Go ahead – take the site’s interactive test to guess what you could make from all the parts of the animal.

-  Some bison though, were revered beyond all that they could provide for Native people. A white bison is extremely rare, appearing once in approximately five million births. For this reason, these animals are considered sacred and possess great spiritual power to Native and non-Native people alike. Given this extreme rarity, where could you ever see one now?! The Montana Historical Society in Helena displays “Big Medicine,” a white buffalo who died in 1959. With blue eyes, tan hooves, and a brown topknot, there’s still plenty of reasons to revere the beauty of this extraordinary specimen today.

"White Medicine" on view at the Montana Historical Society

“Big Medicine” on view at the Montana Historical Society

- As rare as Big Medicine is, perhaps no bison has the hometown spirit of “On the Wind,” the massive bronze bison who greets visitors to the History Colorado Center in Denver. He’s been seen wearing bandannas when the stock show comes to town, a Broncos jersey during football season, and even a bike helmet during the recent Pro Challenge cycling race through the state. He’s also an important reminder of the stories told inside the Center about the historic relationship between bison and the peoples of the West.

- To travel even further back in time, check out the archeological remains of a gigantic Ice Age bison at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Excavated from the Colorado Rockies, this iconic specimen and its neighbors represent one of the most significant fossil discoveries ever made in Colorado.  How gigantic was it?  Twice the size of a modern bison!  How do we know?  It had a horn spread more than 7’ wide (compared with the 2 ½’ spread of the modern buffalo).

HistoryCObison

“On the Wind” in Denver reflects the community

- If you’re finding it hard to imagine the size of a modern bison without actually seeing one, the South Dakota State Historical Society can help you out.  They’ve devised a fun 30-page coloring sheet called How Big is a Buffalo. Bison make quite an appearance in the Society’s education kits, which include objects, lesson plans, worksheets and ideas for additional activities. The Buffalo and Plains Indians, Lewis and Clark, and Archeology kits are just a few that explore all facets of this great American species.

- Lest you think the Affiliate bison only roam west of the Mississippi, think again.  The Mashantucket Pequot Museum in Connecticut is currently displaying The Bison: American Icon exhibition, which explores “the dramatic changes that occurred to the bison and its habitat, and to the people who depended on it for their daily existence.” At the end of September, the Museum invites visitors to take the Bison Challenge – an outdoor activity that will test your speed, strength, and senses against the performance of a bison.  Good luck!

Bison: American Icon exhibit on view at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum

The Bison: American Icon exhibit on view at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum

As the song goes, “oh give me a home… “  It’s gratifying to see how many Affiliate “homes” across America celebrate the iconic bison, and that the Smithsonian will soon provide two of them a home in the nation’s capital.

How does your museum interpret the mighty bison? (We’re looking at you Idaho and Oklahoma)  Tell us your stories!

 

(Footnote:  “bison” and “buffalo” are often used interchangeably.  Culturally this is correct; scientifically it is not.  Technically, bison and buffalo are not the same animal. Click here to compare their differences.)

 

buffalomeThe author is a National Outreach Manager in Smithsonian Affiliations, and a long-time buffalophile.

 

August 25, 2014

Affiliates in the news! September edition

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.

Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West (Cody, Wyoming)
True West Magazine Names Cody Firearms Museum in Annual Top Ten Museums List
“The Cody Firearms Museum dedication to excellence, and their mission of preserving and interpreting our great western history for all generations, is inspiring,” says True West Executive Editor Bob Boze Bell. “They keep the Old West alive.”

HistoryMiami (Miami, Florida)
Exhibit seeking items related to exodus out of Cuba
A new initiative by HistoryMiami and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is aiming to capture the experiences of both Cuban balseros, or rafters, as well as those of Cuban exiles in general: How they traveled here and what they found upon arrival.

This baby olinguito was found in a nest 40 feet above the ground in a large dead bromeliad tree. (Photo by Juan Rendon taken at the Mesenia-Paramillo Nature Reserve in Colombia, courtesy Saving Species)

This baby olinguito was found in a nest 40 feet above the ground in a large dead bromeliad tree. (Photo by Juan Rendon taken at the Mesenia-Paramillo Nature Reserve in Colombia, courtesy Saving Species)

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Raleigh, North Carolina)
Crowdsourcing the Olinguito
“It’s kind of like looking at pictures of your growing child,” said Roland Kays, a zoologist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences & N.C. State University. “You can see our knowledge about the species grow with every picture sent to us.”

San Diego Air & Space Museum (San Diego, California)
SD Air & Space Museum names eight new Hall of Famers
Joe Engle, Fitz Fulton, Bill Boeing Jr., John (Jack) Dailey, Roger Schaufele, Bessie Coleman, the Ninety-Nines and WD-40 will be inducted Nov. 1 in a celebration at the museum’s Pavilion of Flight in Balboa Park.

Union Station Kansas City (Kansas City, Missouri)
New Science City attraction: Smithsonian’s Spark!Lab designed for inventive young minds
The rejuvenation of Science City at Union Station continues with the opening Tuesday of Spark!Lab, an interactive area intended to inspire kids to be inventive using simple materials. The idea is the property of the Smithsonian Institution’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation and is only the second one in the United States outside Washington, D.C.

 

Ten-year-olds Peyton Carter of Kansas City (left) and Ethan Guo of Overland Park worked together together to build a course for a marble to roll along and make sounds while it moved. JILL TOYOSHIBA/The Kansas City Star

Ten-year-olds Peyton Carter of Kansas City (left) and Ethan Guo of Overland Park worked together together to build a course for a marble to roll along and make sounds while it moved. JILL TOYOSHIBA/The Kansas City Star

Young scientists get hands-on learning experience at new Spark!Lab
Hands-on learning is one of the best ways to learn. Now there’s a Spark!Lab dedicated to doing just that. There are only three in the world. Lucky for metro residents, one is located right here in Kansas City at Union Station.

National Atomic Testing Museum (Las Vegas, Nevada)
The nuclear story told at National Atomic Testing Museum, Las Vegas
In December 2011, the museum was designated as a national museum and is today affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution. As part of the designation, the museum has shifted its focus from a regional museum to a national museum, dedicated to telling the country’s history of nuclear development.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Cincinnati’s Freedom Center sheds its chains of doubt
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center marks the 10th anniversary of its opening Sunday, celebrating a decade in which it survived derision, doubts and debt that nearly shut it down.

Berkshire Museum (Pittsfield, Massachusetts)
Berkshire Museum To Host Smithsonian Spark!Lab
This fall, the Berkshire Museum will become one of only five sites in the United States to host a new kind of innovative science learning exhibit developed by the Smithsonian Institute

Birthplace of Country Music Museum (Bristol, Tennessee)
Going Places: Birthplace of Country Music Museum definitely worth the trip to Bristol
An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the BCMM is dedicated to telling the story of the Bristol Sessions, the first commercially-successful recordings of country music.

The Birthplace of Country Museum Museum in Bristol, Tennessee

The Birthplace of Country Museum Museum in Bristol, Tennessee

Read:At The Cradle Of Country Music, A Monument You Can Hear As Well As See

Listen: NPR Weekend Edition Saturday

Birthplace of Country Music Museum Opens
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is opening in Bristol, Virginia this weekend. Nashville may be the mecca of this music today, but as Johnny Cash himself put it, Bristol was the site of the ‘Big Bang’ that led to the universe of country music we know today.

Birthplace of Country Music Museum set to open
This Smithsonian-affiliated museum will open in a facility designed to engage the community regularly through programming and exhibits and is expected to draw visitors from around the world.

Grand Opening Of The Birthplace Of Country Music Museum In Bristol Is This Weekend
The Smithsonian Institution-affiliated Birthplace of Country Music Museum is dedicated to preserve the legacy of the 1927 Bristol Sessions and their lasting influence on American popular music through interactive, multi-media exhibits, film, and more. Johnny Cash referred to the famous Sessions as “The single most important event in the history of country music.” Also known as the “Big Bang of Country Music,” the legendary recordings by Ralph Peer took country music to a new level and produced pioneers of the genre such as Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family.

Birthplace of Country Music Museum Opens in Bristol This Weekend
“The opening of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum is something that our community has been looking forward to for many years, and we take pride in giving our community something that celebrates our rich music heritage,” Leah Ross, the museum’s executive director, told Kingsport’s Times News.

Saving Our African American Treasures. Photo credit: Michael R. Barnes

Saving Our African American Treasures. Photo credit: Michael R. Barnes

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, Alabama)
Smithsonian and Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to Present “Save Our African American Treasures” Sept. 6
“We are extremely proud of bringing ‘Save Our African American Treasures’ to Birmingham and of our partnership with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute,” said Lonnie Bunch, director of the Smithsonian museum.

April 25, 2014

coming up in affiliateland in May 2014

 

As summer approaches, things are heating up in Affiliateland!

WYOMING
Several staff members from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West will speak during a day-long conference at the Smithsonian on 300 Years of Innovation in Scotland and America, coming from Cody, 5.1.

Affiliations director Harold Closter will be speaking at the Colorado-Wyoming Museum Association meeting in Cody, 5.7-10.

Beth Wilson of the National Air and Space Museum leads a videoconference session on the Wright Flyer.

Beth Wilson of the National Air and Space Museum leads a videoconference session on the Wright Flyer.

GEORGIA
Wayne Motts, Director of the National Civil War Museum (an Affiliate in Harrisburg, PA) will give a public lecture on the Civil War at the members preview of the new 1864 exhibition at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw, 5.2.

SOUTH DAKOTA
The South Dakota State Historical Society hosts a talk and book signing on the Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects by Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture, in Pierre, 5.5.

WASHINGTON
The National Air and Space Museum will present an online workshop for students on Kites, Wings and Flying Things: Learning with the Wright Brothers, to be held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, 5.6, 13 and 27.

INDIANA
Conner Prairie Interactive History Park  hosts a workshop on the Importance of Informal Learning with Betsy Bowers, Director of the Smithsonian Center for Innovation in Early Learning in Fishers, 5.9.

Betsy Bowers will discuss how young explorers in informal museum environments are a vital part of early childhood learning at the Smithsonian.

Betsy Bowers will discuss how young explorers in informal museum environments are a vital part of early childhood learning at the Smithsonian.

FLORIDA
National Air and Space Museum curator Carolyn Russo will serve as a juror for the Mayfaire Arts Festival at the Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, 5.10-11.

The Frost Art Museum hosts a talk and book signing on the Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects by Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture, in Miami, 5.21.

PENNSYLVANIA
A group of staff from the U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center will spend a day touring collections and exhibitions with colleagues at the National Museum of American History, coming from Carlisle, 5.12

MARYLAND
The Smithsonian Associates have organized a study tour on Natural History of the Mid-Atlantic: Stories of Calvert County that will visit Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in Solomons, 5.17.

COLORADO
Allison Wickens, Director of Education at the National Postal Museum, will give a public lecture on  Colorado Mail Stories: By Train, Plane, and Pony Express at History Colorado in Denver, 5.20

September 24, 2013

kudos affiliates! october 2013

The air is turning crisp, but Affiliate accomplishments continue to shine!

FUNDING

Chabot Space & Science Center (Oakland, CA) was presented a “Waste Management Cares” award in the amount of $95,000 for their environmental education programming. 

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced the recipients for the Museums for America and National Leadership Grants for Museums programs featuring the following Affiliates:

History Colorado (Denver, CO)
Award Amount: $134,425; Matching Amount: $214,622
History Colorado will design, create, pilot, and evaluate five multilevel 21st century skills-based Colorado History Digital Badges for children in fourth, seventh, and eleventh grades. Each badge will challenge students to complete various quests or activities in conjunction with the learning standards for their appropriate grade.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science (Denver, CO)
Award Amount: $149,965; Matching Amount: $150,099
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science will purchase new storage cabinets to rehouse its Asian collection of 1,130 objects, and enter collections information into its database, making images available for publication through its website. The collection illustrates the main materials, designs, and technologies used by indigenous cultures of China, Taiwan, Japan, South Asia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.  

Mystic Seaport Museum (Mystic, CT)
Award Amount: $80,343; Matching Amount: $85,864
Mystic Seaport will catalog, digitally photograph, and place a group of 4,950 objects and photographs into secure storage. The items were selected to support an online learning project for students and teachers, and programming associated with whaling and the restoration and planned voyage of the whaleship Charles W. Morgan, a National Historic Landmark.  

B & O Railroad Museum (Baltimore, MD)
Award Amount: $135,232; Matching Amount: $185,880
The B&O Railroad Museum will restore the B&O #600 J.C. Davis locomotive that was severely damaged by a collapsed museum roof in a 2003 blizzard. It is one of only two locomotives surviving from Philadelphia’s1876 Centennial Exposition. Four staff and 10 trained volunteers will restore the engine to its 1875 appearance.  

USS Constitution Museum  (Boston, MA)
Award Amount: $280,623; Matching Amount: $286,936
The USS Constitution Museum (USSCM) will use its grant to identify characteristics of family programming that result in active intergenerational engagement, enjoyment, and learning in museums and libraries. The project seeks to create a robust yet flexible set of guidelines for creating genuine intergenerational learning experiences disseminated through workshops, online resources, conferences, and publications.

Michigan State University Museum (East Lansing, MI)
Award Amount: $77,292; Matching Amount: $81,117
The Michigan State University Museum will purchase archivally stable storage materials, museum-quality cabinets, and a mobile storage system to create appropriate storage for an 827-box prehistoric and historic archaeological collection to ensure its safety and that of its users and to provide capacity for future collection expansion. The rehousing project will facilitate access by faculty, graduate students, and visiting scholars who regularly use the collections.

Center for the History of Psychology, University of Akron (Akron, OH)
Award Amount: $52,454; Matching Amount: $55,038
The Center for the History of Psychology will partner with 10 local high school teachers to design, implement, and evaluate educational resources to provide meaningful, informative, and memorable fieldtrips. The teachers will attend a one-day workshop to brainstorm with the project team. The museum will develop a Teachers Resource Package with guides to the museum, exhibits, and classroom activities; lesson plans based on state standards; and an online repository of archival materials for classroom activities. The museum will also create a “Measuring the Mind” interactive exhibit for teenagers and young adults, providing access to historical materials from the collections.  

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience  (Seattle, WA)
Award Amount: $150,000; Matching Amount: $167,269
The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience will produce a newly designed tour program to empower the Asian Pacific American community to share their stories, help stimulate the local economy, and promote the historic and cultural vibrancy of the district. The Chinatown International District, on the National Register of Historic Places, is Seattle’s lowest-income neighborhood, struggling with multiple issues that threaten its preservation.  

Buffalo Bill Historical Center (Cody, WY)
Award Amount: $149,958; Matching Amount: $153,004
The Buffalo Bill Historical Center will complete a two-year Picturing Buffalo Bill project to digitize 6,000 photographs in its McCracken Research Library related to the life and career of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. Staff will scan, catalog, and upload images to expand the “Buffalo Bill Online Archive” on the museum’s website, along with subject headings and descriptive metadata.  


RECOGNITION

The Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, MI) has earned accredition by the American Alliance of Museums.


LEADERSHIP
Clarence G. “C.G.” Newsome, Ph.D. is the new president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati, OH) 

The Board of Trustees of the Long Island Museum (Stony Brook, NY) announced that Neil Watson has been appointed Executive Director.

August 22, 2013

engineering ingenuity at the buffalo bill center of the west

Special thanks to Monica Reardon, Smithsonian Affiliations summer intern, for authoring the 2013 #MuseumDayLive! Affiliate blog series.

Patent model, Smith & Wesson Magazine Lever Action Pistol. AF*251055. Image provided by Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Patent model, Smith & Wesson Magazine Lever Action Pistol. AF*251055. Image provided by Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West had its start as a log building in Cody, Wyoming, resembling Buffalo Bill’s TE Ranch house.  Mary Jester Allen intended the museum to be a national shrine and memorial to her uncle, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, and to the early pioneers of the American West.  The collections grew and so did the Museum, with the intent of preserving and conveying the “Spirit of the American West.” 

The Center has participated in Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day Live! since becoming a Smithsonian Affiliate in 2008. On view at the Cody Firearms Museum in time for Museum Day Live! this year are 64 unique firearms from the National Firearms Collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American HistoryThe exhibit is divided between patent firearms (the prototype design submitted by firearms inventors), firearms with interesting provenance, and international firearms with gorgeous embellishments.  The collection includes a Smith and Wesson Lever Action Patent Model and a Colt Patent.

The Smith and Wesson Lever Action Patent Model was the first lever action prototype firearm designed by Smith and Wesson.  Smith and Wesson’s original company, The Volcanic Repeating Arms Co. was actually named after the nickname for the pistol, the Volcanic pistol. However, this patent did not bring them financial success and they sold the rights to a shirt manufacturer named Oliver Winchester. Winchester would go on to use this patent; his lever action rifles becoming synonymous with the American West.

Revolver, patent model.  Colt Paterson Revolver.  AF*251084.  Image provided by Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Revolver, patent model. Colt Paterson Revolver. AF*251084. Image provided by Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

The Colt Patent is connected to Samuel Colt, another name famous in the American West, particularly for revolvers.  Colt’s revolver is the first successful percussion firearm ever patented.  The design from this model would go on to be the production type Colt Paterson.  As noted by Ashley Hlebinsky,Firearms Curatorial Resident, “You pretty much cannot see a Western film without seeing a variation of a Colt Revolver and a Winchester Lever Action.”

Hlebinsky would like visitors “to not only see some amazing firearms and representations of engineering ingenuity, but to understand the people who made the firearms and who owned and used them.”  She hopes that the “artifacts are able to convey a story about the people involved in the process – from the trial and error methods of the patent process (some patent models were never produced, while others became infamous) to the experiences of those who owned the guns.”

Is the Smithsonian in your neighborhood? Find out which other Affiliates are participating in #MuseumDayLive on September 28, 2013, here.

 

July 19, 2013

Featured video: Smithsonian Firearms in Cody

Sharing a great article from By Katharine MacKnight at KULR-8 TV in Billings, Montana.

In 1876, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History established the National Firearms Collection in Washington, DC. It’s the home to nearly 7,000 artifacts. Sixty-four of them are now on display at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West Firearms Exhibit. It’s one of the largest collections of firearms to come out of the Smithsonian.

“It’s for people who love firearms and know a lot about them and also for people who don’t know a lot and would like to come in and learn why it’s important to American history,” says Ashley Lynn Hlebinsky, Firearms Curatorial Resident at the Buffalo Bills Center of the West Firearm Exhibit.

“Journeying West: Distinctive Firearms from the Smithsonian” is an exhibition at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. It was a carefully researched and planned out process that took Curator Warren Newman years to bring together.

Read the entire article here- http://www.kulr8.com/story/22879382/smithsonian-firearms-in-cody
KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

April 30, 2013

coming up in affiliateland in may 2013

May is a busy time in Affiliateland! 

CALIFORNIA
The
Japanese American National Museum will open SITES’ American Heroes: Japanese American WWII Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal, 5.4. The museum will also host the National Portrait Gallery’s traveling exhibition Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits in Los Angeles, 5.11.

bbhc

Detail of a historic firearm to be displayed in Cody, Wyoming.

WYOMING
64 artifacts from the National Museum of American History’s firearm collection go on display at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, 5.4.

FLORIDA
The Polk Museum of Art will host the Mayfaire Arts Festival. Beverly K. Cox, formerly Exhibits Coordinator for the National Portrait Gallery, will serve as the jurist for the museum’s annual two-day arts festival in Lakeland, 5.10. 

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum will host a public program on the Art of Boatbuilding, featuring curator Douglas Herman from the National Museum of the American Indian. He will present a public  demonstration on boatbuilding by Pacific Islanders in St. Augustine, 5.18.

NORTH CAROLINA
The Schiele Museum of Natural History and Lynn Planetarium will open an exhibition entitled Mammal Safari, featuring 25 mounted specimens on loan from the National Museum of Natural History, in Gastonia, 5.18.

MARYLAND
College Park Aviation Museum will host their second Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos workshop in College Park, 5.19.

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum hosts a reception for all Affiliate staff during the American Alliance of Museums annual meeting in Baltimore, 5.21.

ramp

Native skateboard culture is headed to Connecticut

CONNECTICUT
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center hosts SITES’s Ramp it Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America in Mashantucket, 5.25.

TEXAS
Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is hosting SITES’ Elvis at 21, featuring 40 Smithsonian artifacts in Fort Worth, 5.23.

MAINE
Abbe Museum opens SITES’ IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas, in Bar Harbor  5.23.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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