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October 26, 2010

*amazing* loans at Affiliates this fall

More than 25 amazing and unique artifacts are on the move from the Smithsonian to Affiliates in six states,  from September to November this year.  This concentration of extraordinary activity gives testament to months (and sometimes years!) of hard work and planning by Smithsonian and Affiliate staffs alike. 

“Americans unable to visit the Smithsonian in Washington now have an opportunity to see some amazing Smithsonian artifacts from our collections in their own communities,” said Harold Closter, Affiliations Director.  “Something special happens when an artifact returns to its location of origin or joins an exhibit where it can be seen in a new context. Thanks to our Affiliates, the Smithsonian has a strong, visible presence in every part of our country.”

From the NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY:

Lexington's skeletal head, next to its image while alive.

The fall season kicked off in Kentucky, site of the 2010 World Equestrian Games.  The International Museum of the Horse borrowed the complete skeleton of Lexington, the most famous 19th-century American racehorse, returning him to his birthplace 160 years later.   Read more about this amazing loan in the upcoming Fall 2010 edition of The Affiliate newsletter. 

Isn’t Monopoly the way most of us learned about finance and economics?  A solid gold, jewel-encrusted Monopoly game from the Museum’s gem collection was unveiled with great fanfare in October at the Museum of American Finance on Wall Street in New York City.  While students competed in a Monopoly tournament, the artifact’s creator, jeweler Sidney Mobell, spoke about this one-of-a-kind artwork.   

From the SMITHSONIAN AMERICAN ART MUSEUM:

Barthe's almost 3' Blackberry Woman

Artist Richmond Barthe’s bronze sculpture Blackberry Woman will soon be on view at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum in Biloxi, Mississippi for the inaugural exhibition in its new African American gallery.  Barthe grew up in Mississippi, and was inspired by the women he encountered there in his childhood.  How elegantly appropriate for this sculpture to return to the genesis of its inspiration!

In November, the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico will display three paintings from SAAM’s Vidal Collection by legendary 18- 19th-century Puerto Rican Old Master, José Campeche.  These inclusions in a definitive retrospective of Campeche’s work represent the first loans ever between these two important art museums, a signficiant accomplishment.

Likewise, SAAM’s painting by Charmion von Wiegand “Nothing that is wrong in principle can be right in practice” will be part of the Rubin Museum’s Grain of Emptiness: Buddhism-inspired Contemporary Art exhibition, the Museum’s first loan to this NYC Affiliate.

 From the ARCHIVES CENTER at the National Museum of American History:  

Detail from the illustrated sheet music, Oh! You Babe Ruth

The Archives Center is making a significant contribution to the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music’s Sousa and His League of Players: America’s Music and the Golden Age of Baseball exhibition, marking the 100th anniversary of the Sousa Band’s World Tour.  With 11 baseball cards (including Ty Cobb’s) and several examples of illustrated sheet music (including Oh! You Babe Ruth and Stars of the National Game music), this exhibition will be the core of the University’s 2010 American Music Month Celebration.

From the NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN:

In an unexpected request, the Museum has loaned a 19th-century Sioux flute and hide scraper from the Dakota Territory to the National Museum of American Jewish History.  What’s the connection?  When NMAJH opens its brand new building on Independence Mall this November, part of the history it will tell is the western expansion of Jewish Americans, and the kinds of peoples and objects they encountered along the way.   

And from the MUSEUM CONSERVATION INSTITUTE:

Within the Emperor's Garden - on view at Flushing Town Hall

MCI’s extraordinary object, the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion, made its way between two Affiliates this fall, from Texas to Flushing, New York.  Flushing Town Hall is located in one of New York City’s largest Asian communities, a perfect context for this 1:5 scale model replica from the Imperial Garden in the Forbidden City in Bejing.  Read more about the deinstallation and NYC installation of this object.

THANK YOU to all of our Smithsonian colleagues for their work on these loans, and for our Affiliate friends who so consistently collaborate with us to bring the Smithsonian to their neighborhoods.

October 5, 2010

Kentucky welcomes iconic Lexington home again

Special thanks to Alma Douglas, Smithsonian Affiliations National Outreach Manager, for this post.

It took several years of negotiations to determine the feasibility of loaning a 135 year-old skeleton of a horse to the International Museum of the Horse in Lexington, KY, but it finally happened in August. 

Thomas J. Scott, Portrait of Lexington, 1888, oil on canvas mounted on fiberboard, sight 24 1/8 x 34 3/8 in. (61.3 x 87.4 cm.). Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David K. Anderson, Martha Jackson Memorial Collection. This portrait is on view at the Headley-Whitney Museum, another Smithsonian Affiliate in Lexington, KY.

Lexington, a beautiful bay, was one of America’s and some would say one of the world’s greatest racing champions. He was born in 1850 as Darley and renamed in 1853.  He won six races out of seven in addition to what was considered to be the greatest match race of the 19th century.  Lexington was also raced against the clock to produce a speed record that held for over 20 years — four miles in seven minutes, 19 ¾ seconds.  Forced to retire because he was going blind, Lexington was a leading sire who produced a record number of champions over the course of 16 years.  After his death, Lexington’s bones were donated to the Smithsonian and placed on exhibit. 

In 1998, Carlene Stephens, a curator at the National Museum of American History, related the significance of horse racing, where races are won by tenths of seconds, to the subject of time while working on the Timex sponsored “On Time” exhibition.  Lexington was featured in the exhibition.  When “On Time” was de-installed, the skeleton went back into storage.   

Interest was rekindled in bringing Lexington back to Kentucky by William Cooke, Executive Director of the International Museum of the Horse. Kudos to the team, headed by Linda Gordon, Collections Manager, Department of Mammals, National Museum of Natural History; Ed Ryan, Assistant Registrar and Carol Slatick, Outgoing Loans Coordinator, National Museum of American History, who worked seamlessly together to coordinate the loan. 

Lexington's skeleton, fully assembled, at the International Museum of the Horse. Photo by James Shambhu.

Lexington stands as an iconic symbol for Bluegrass Country.  His image is found throughout Lexington, KY in celebration of his greatness.  Packed and crated gently for the long ride, the skeleton is now on display at the International Museum of the Horse, along with a full view of his portrait.  As thousands of horse enthusiasts from across the country and around the world visit Kentucky for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Lexington will be “in the house.”

 

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