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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.

 

July 27, 2014

kudos Affiliates! August 2014

Great news from Affiliateland!  Bravo to all!

FUNDING

The National Civil War Museum (Harrisburg, PA) received a $5,000 donation from the Hall Foundation to support educational programming. The Hall Foundation is the title sponsor of the new exhibit “In the Hands of the Enemy: The Captivity, Exchange & Parole of Prisoners of War,” that highlights the brutal conditions of prisoner of war camps, Confederate and Union. The exhibit will have rare artifacts from the National Civil War Museum’s collection on display, and information panels will address and explain the conditions of the camps and daily prisoner life.

The Hawai`i State Legislature approved $500,000 in State Grant-in-Aid funding toward the new Island Heritage Gallery exhibit at the Lyman Museum (Hilo, HI).  The new exhibit will explore a historical timeline of the many people, cultures, events, and ideas that left their mark on Hawai`i Island and contributed to the rich, diverse mosaic of modern Hawai`i.

The Hall Family Foundation has donated $4 million to help fund capital improvement projects at Union Station Kansas City (Kansas City, MO). The funding will be used to make improvements to Science City as well as the development of a pedestrian bridge and a new lower-level entrance.

Two Affiliates recently received Museum Grants for African American History and Culture (AAHC) from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS):

- Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture (Baltimore, MD) Award Amount: $69,674

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture will hire a curatorial graduate student intern, create a postdoctoral fellowship in African American history, and establish a professional development fund that will allow staff at all levels to take advantage of training programs relevant to their work as museum professionals.

- American Jazz Museum (Kansas City, MO) Award Amount: $133,050

The American Jazz Museum will hire a registrar to enhance the accessibility of the museum’s collections and create four semester-long paid internship positions focusing on collections and education.

The Ellen Noël Art Museum (Odessa, TX) received a grant from the Junior League of Odessa for the “Little Free Library”, a decorative receptacle and will be filled with books for children and young adults to “take a book, leave a book.”  In addition, the Ellen Noel Art Museum has received a $20,000 grant from National Endowment for the Arts for their innovative research in the 3D printing lab meant to assist the visually impaired.

GAR Foundation distributed awards to teams of Ohio educators through its annual Educator Initiative Grant program. The awards support teacher-initiated, classroom-based projects and methods that demonstrate gains in student achievement and include the following affiliates:

  • National Inventors Hall of Fame (Akron, OH) STEM Middle School, $9,500, for “STEM E5d.”
  • Akron Public Schools, National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School, $4,999, for “Survivability of an Impossible Situation.”
  • Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, OH) $10,000 for Hale Farm & Village’s Adopt-a-School Program at Leggett Elementary.
  • Western Reserve Historical Society, $5,000 for Hale Farm & Village’s Wetmore Barn Preservation.

Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA) announced that the Massachusetts budget for 2015 includes $2 million funding for the restoration of Mayflower II, a replica of the original ship that brought the Pilgrims to Massachusetts.

The African American Museum in Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA) received a $50,000 award from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation  to enhance two current art exhibits: the photography of “Distant Echoes: Black Farmers in America,” and the sculpture of “Syd Carpenter: More Places of Our Own.” The Knight-supported programming, dubbed “Beyond Sustenance,” will encompass interactive storytelling, art-making, community dining, and workshops centered on African-American traditions in farming, cooking and more.

Mystic Seaport and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center (Mystic, Mashantucket, CT) received a $30,095 grant from Connecticut Humanities to support a project called Connecticut Indian Whalers: Work, Community, and Life at Sea.  The project features digital, exhibit and program offerings designed to raise school and public awareness about the men of color from Connecticut who labored on 19th century whaling ships, in particular Native American men whose work experience was strongly intertwined with their social and kinship networks.

Staten Island City Council allocated $3.7 million to Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden for building renovations.

ACHIEVEMENTS & RECOGNITION

The Institute of Museum and Library Services announced that North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Raleigh, NC) was one of 10 recipients of the 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community.

Charlene Donchez Mowers, executive director of Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites (Bethlehem, PA), received the Strategic Partner Award from the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce.  Historic Bethlehem has recently been designated a National Historic Landmark site.

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) proudly announced the winners of the 69th annual Leadership in History Awards, the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history. Below are the Affiliate recipients for the 2014 Awards:

Conner Prairie (Fishers, IN) has been chosen by FlipKey Vacation Rental as one of its “Top Family Attractions Worth Traveling For.”

The Monumental Earthworks of Poverty Point state park (Pioneer, LA) have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This prestigious designation is a global recognition of the site’s outstanding universal value.

PA Museums announced that the Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, PA) received the President’s Award for its national award-winning exhibit From Slavery to Freedom.


LEADERSHIP

The Board of the Western Reserve Historical Society announced that Kelly Falcone-Hall has been selected to be the new CEO. Falcone-Hall had been serving as interim CEO during the selection process.

 

September 24, 2013

coming up in affiliateland in october 2013

NEW YORK
Smithsonian Regent David Rubenstein will be featured in the Titans of Industry seminar at the Center for Jewish History in New York City, 10.2.    

VIRGINIA 
George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens will host a field trip and sessions as part of the International Museum Theater Alliance Global Conference in Mount Vernon, 10.8.   

FLORIDA
The Polk Museum of Art opens Paintings of the Space Age, featuring five paintings on loan from the
National Air and Space Museum, in Lakeland, 10.12.  

SOUTH DAKOTA
South Dakota State Historical Society will host a special webcast of the National Air and Space Museum entitled Star Trek’s Continuing Relevance, in Pierre, 10.13.

D.C.
wankel-rex-is-comingJack Horner, Curator of Paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies (Bozeman, MT) comes to Washington to discuss the bones of a Tyrannosaurus rex which was excavated near the Museum, but will be coming to the Smithsonian in 2019, in Washington, 10.16.  

Affiliations’ staff takes part in Smithsonian Teachers Night, distributing digital, educational materials from more than 15 Affiliates across the nation in Washington, 10.25.   

CONNECTICUT
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum hosts a conference on 17th Century Warfare, Diplomacy & Society in the American Northeast featuring James Ring Adams, a historian from the National Museum of the American Indian, and a historical theater presentation by Plimoth Plantation, in Mashantucket, 10.18-19.  

TEXAS
The Institute of Texan Cultures opens the Native Words, Native Warriors  (SITES) exhibition in San Antonio, 10.19.    
 

July 23, 2013

Affiliates in the News! July 2013

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.

telluride

Telluride Historical Museum Executive Director Erica Kinias demonstrates the restored Pelton Wheel, which uses water to generate electricity. The museum was recently named a Smithsonian Affiliate. Photo by Heather Sackett.

Telluride Historical Museum (Telluride, Colorado)
Sharing History: Telluride Historical Museum named Smithsonian Affiliate
Telluride Historical Museum Chronicles Area Gold Rush to Ghost Town

South Dakota State Historical Society (Pierre, S.D.)
Museum of State Historical Society to Host Live Smithsonian Webcast on July 20
State Historical Society offers free videos

Mennello Museum of American Art (Orlando, FL)
‘Earl Cunningham’s Everglades’ at Mennello Museum

Kentucky Historical Society (Frankfort, KY)
Historical Society Joins Smithsonian Family
Kentucky Historical Society Now a Smithsonian Affiliate
KHS Set To Announce Smithsonian Partnership
Kentucky Historical Society forming affiliation with Smithsonian Institution

Elvis on the Southern Railroad between Chattanooga and Memphis, Tenn. July 4, 1956. © Alfred Wertheimer.

Elvis on the Southern Railroad between Chattanooga and Memphis, Tenn.
July 4, 1956. © Alfred Wertheimer.

Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, PA)
History Center Exhibit explores Pennsylvania’s impact on the Civil War
Heinz History Center exhibition highlights Pa. role in Civil War
Center brings big guns to Pa. Civil War exhibit

Fort Worth Museum of Science and History (Fort Worth, TX)
Elvis in a history museum? Fort Worth photos are a swivel-hipping hit
Hanging Out with Elvis in Fort Worth
‘Elvis at 21’ exhibit at Fort Worth Science Museum proves interesting even for non-fans
Elvis at 21 delves into the puzzling nature of sex appeal, charisma, and intimacy

Berkshire Museum (Pittsfield, MA)
Berkshire Museum now a Smithsonian affiliate
Berkshire Museum becomes Smithsonian Affiliate, First Museum in Western MA to earn designation
Berkshire Museum named affiliate of Smithsonian Institution

David Ward of the National Portrait Gallery discusses a painting by Roger Shimomura.

David Ward of the National Portrait Gallery discusses a painting by Roger Shimomura at the Japanese American National Museum.

Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, CA)
A Self-portrait of Asian America: Smithsonian co-presents art exhibition at JANM
Seven citizens, seven stories: the performance “fighting for democracy” heads from Philly to DC
May Issue: First Asian American Exhibit Debuts at the Smithsonian

Schiele Museum of Natural History (Gastonia, NC)
Stay at home safari exhibit takes guests on tour of wild kingdom

Idaho Museum of Natural History (Pocatello, ID)
Digital Specimens

Miami Science Museum (Miami, FL)
2013 Smithsonian Online Education Conference Series Presents Two Sessions on Astrophotography

Mashantucket Pequot Museum (Mashantucket, CT)
Ramp It Up! Skateboard Exhibit Moves to Pequot Museum

skateboardexhibitbanner

July 18, 2013

coming up in affiliateland, July-August 2013

Spend your summer at a Smithsonian Affiliate! Check out these events in your neighborhood in July and August.

MAINE
Kevin Gover, National Museum of the American Indian and Harold Closter, Smithsonian Affiliations, attended the public announcement of the Abbe Museum as a new Smithsonian Affiliate in Bar Harbor, 07.05.

Gabrielle Tayac (Piscataway), National Museum of the American Indian curator of the IndiVisible exhibit will give a public lecture on the similar histories of African-Native Americans and Acadian/Wabanaki relations at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, 7.10. 

FLORIDA

Lindsay Bartholomew, science curator at the Miami Science Museum, presented as part of the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access online webinar, Do It Yourself Astrophotography:  Applications for the Classroom and Beyond, along with Mary Dussault, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, in Washington, D.C, 07.10.

MARYLAND
The B&O Railroad Museum collaborated with the Smithsonian Science Education Center for a Science Education Academy for Teachers workshop, in Baltimore, 07.10.

Warren Perry, National Portrait Gallery curator, will guest jury the exhibition Humor Me! at Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center, in Solomons, 08.07.

COLORADO
National Outreach Manager Aaron Glavas will be speaking at the public announcement of the Telluride Historical Museum as a new Smithsonian Affiliate in Telluride, 7.29.

IDAHO

The Idaho Museum of Natural History will host the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) exhibit Native Words, Native Warriors in Pocatello, 07.20.

MISSOURI
The American Jazz Museum will host SITES’ American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music, in Kansas City, 08.01.

MASSACHUSETTS
The USS Constitution Museum will host a teacher workshop featuring a lecture by Sidney Hart, Senior Historian from the National Portrait Gallery, in Boston, 07.26 and 08.09.

NATIONWIDE
Ten Affiliates are hosting student interns as part of the Smithsonian Latino Center’s Young Ambassadors Program, through 08.02—Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, Musical Instrument Museum, California Science Center, Museum of Latin American Art, Chabot Space and Science Center, Miami Science MuseumMuseum of Flight, and the International Museum of Art and Science.

Four Affiliates are participating in a Smithsonian EdLab teacher workshop, Connecting Classrooms, throughout July and August —the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre; the International Museum of Art and Science in McAllen, Texas; the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico in San Juan; and Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum in Arizona.

LAST CHANCE! See these exhibitions in your community before they close!

CONNECTICUT

The SITES’ exhibit Ramp It Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America closes at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, in Mashantucket, 07.21.

TEXAS
Within the Emperor’s Garden: The Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion exhibit closes at the International Museum of Art and Science, in McAllen, 08.18.

MAINE
SITES’ exhibit IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas closes at the Abbe Museum, in Bar Harbor, 08.04.

April 30, 2013

affiliates in the news, spring 2013 edition

Affiliates are making news this month!

National Atomic Testing Museum (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Las Vegas museum tells of city’s history with nuclear testing

 

North Carolina Museum of History (Raleigh, North Carolina)
Exhibition featuring 19th-century African American master cabinetmaker Thomas Day opens at Renwick Gallery April 12

 

Mennello Museum of American Art (Orlando, Florida)
Live Active Cultures: Orlando’s balance of old and new: 20th-century canvases and a world-premiere play just a few hundred yards apart.

 

National Civil War Museum (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) and the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History (Kennesaw, Georgia)
Medal of Honor 150: The National Civil War Museum gathers 6 examples of highest honor

 

Mashantucket Pequot Museum (Mashantucket, CT)
Ramp It Up’ at museum

 
Abbe Museum (Bar Harbor, ME)
Abbe will partner with Smithsonian

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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