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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 20, 2013

kudos Affiliates! September 2013

Summer 2013 is winding down but continues to be a hot one for our Affiliates!

Funding

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The National Endowment for the Humanities recently announced the recipients of $33 million in grants for 173 humanities projects, including the following Affiliate projects:

- Mystic Seaport Museum (Mystic, CT)-$164,280
Project: “The American Maritime People” NEH Summer Institute 2014
Project Description: Implementing a five-week summer institute for twenty college and university faculty to examine recent social, cultural, and ecological approaches to American maritime studies.

- Mystic Seaport Museum (Mystic, CT)-$450,000
Project: Voyaging in the Wake of the Whalers: The 38th Voyage of the Charles W. Morgan
Project Description: Implementing a long-term exhibition, a website, and public programs at the Mystic Seaport Museum that examine the broad economic, social, and cultural impact of whaling. 

- Abbe Museum (Bar Harbor, ME)-$220,000
Project: Implementing Sustainability Strategies for the Abbe Museum’s Collections Environment
Project Description: The implementation of environmental improvements, consisting of upgrades to the climate control and lighting systems, for a museum that collects, preserves, and exhibits ethnographic and historic material relating to the four tribes of central Maine,  collectively known as the Wabanaki.

- Montana Historical Society (Helena, MT)-$300,000
Project: Montana Digital Newspaper Project
Project Description: Digitization 100,000 pages of Montana newspapers dating from 1836 to 1922, as part of the state’s continuing participation in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).

- Ohio Historical Society (Columbus, OH)-$40,000
Project: Ohio’s Ten Tribes
Project Description: Planning for a five-thousand-square-foot permanent exhibition, a website, and educational materials examining the forced removal of ten Native American tribes from Ohio in the early 19th century and the historical and contemporary impact on these tribes.

- Oklahoma Historical Society (Oklahoma City, OK)-$300,000
Project: Oklahoma Newspaper Digitization Project
Project Description: Digitization of 100,000 pages of Oklahoma newspapers issued between 1836 and 1922, as part of the state’s continuing participation in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).

- National Museum of American Jewish History (Philadelphia, PA)-$300,000
Project: Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Jews in America
Project Description: Implementation of an artifact-based traveling exhibition, a smaller panel version to be displayed in baseball parks, a catalogue, a website, and related public programs.

- Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (Seattle, WA)-$179,914
Project: Asian Pacific American Immigrants in the Pacific Northwest: Transforming the Nation
Project Description: Two one-week Landmarks workshops for eighty school teachers to explore the history and culture of Asian immigrant groups in the Pacific Northwest and their significance to the nation.

- Buffalo Bill Historical Center (Cody, WY)-$200,000
Project: The Papers of William F. Cody: Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and the European Frontier
Project Description: Preparation for publication of materials related to the tours by Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show of Great Britain and Germany in 1887-1906.

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The Institute of Museum and Library Services recently announced recipients of its grants for African American History and Culture, including the following Affiliates:

- Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, AL)-$74,277 to implement the Collection Storage Improvement Project, the goal of which is to safeguard its archival and fine arts collections to ensure that they will be available for use by current and future staff, scholars, and researchers.

- The Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati, OH)-$150,000 for an apprentice program, recruiting recent talented graduates from colleges and universities across the country, with a focus on those from HBCUs.
 

The Montana Historical Society (Helena, MT) is going a little Hollywood with its historic collection of films and still photographs that will help tell the story of Sen. Lee Metcalf and his contributions to what he helped make “The Last Best Place.” A two-year grant from the private sector Council on Library and Information Resources will allow them to arrange, preserve and describe the Metcalf photographs and film. The grant provides the resources necessary to spend time researching, identifying and preserving all of the materials in the collections.

Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA) received a $200,000 grant from the Plymouth Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) to support the renovation and expansion of the Museum’s Craft Center, providing essential visitor services like climate control and additional area for demonstrations and hands-on activities. The Museum also plans to construct a bakery in the Craft Center, where guests can view demonstrations of 17th-century baking techniques and learn how to make bread.

Leadership

Patricia Wilson Aden has been named the new President & CEO of the African American Museum in Philadelphia

The International Storytelling Center (Jonesborough, TN) has hired Kiran Singh Sirah, a prominent folklorist, as its new Executive Director.

Carrie M. Heinonen has been named President and Director of the Musical Instrument Museum (Phoenix, AZ)

August 24, 2012

Kudos Affiliates! September 2012

As summer heats up, so too do Affiliate accomplishments!

The Michigan State University Museum (East Lansing, Michigan) received a new grant from the Asian Cultural Council, New York City, to establish a partnership between the Michigan State University Museum and Yunnan Nationalities Museum, in Kunming, China. The $12,000 grant is aimed at creating new resources online that can be used to access Chinese folklife and ethnographic collections by scholars, museums and the public.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati, Ohio) will receive a $1.8 million grant over three years as part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s America Healing program. The three-year grant will be used for programs to increase student and public awareness and understanding about the history of racial oppression in this country.

The GAR Foundation has awarded a $30,000 grant to the Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, Ohio), for educational programming at Hale Farm & Village.

Three Affiliates received Smithsonian Community Grants program sponsored by MetLife Foundation as part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibitions Services (SITES):

  • Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio, Texas) received $5,000 to fund programming that fosters self-identification and pride for dual heritage African-Native Texans. The grant will support honoraria for several scholars, craft and educational materials, and the marketing and advertising of events related to the themes of IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas.
  • San Diego Museum of Man (San Diego, California) was awarded $3,750 to fund the honoraria of Native American skate industry professionals who will participate in a panel discussion. The grant will also support the marketing of programming related to the themes of Ramp it Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America.
  • Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum (McMinnville, Oregon) will receive $2,160 to fund the busing of economically disadvantaged and minority youth in the regional Portland area to view Black Wings: An American Dream of Flight.

A technology upgrade for Ellen Noel Art Museum (Odessa, Texas) is the result of a Permian Basin Area Foundation $5,000 grant. This technology upgrade will help support the museum’s existing website and social media sites.

American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) announced the winners of their 2012 Leadership in History Awards Winners including the following Affiliates:

  • Arizona State Museum (Tucson, Arizona) for the exhibit Many Mexicos: Vistas de la Frontera
  • Conner Prairie Interactive History Park (Fishers, Indiana) for the exhibit 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana.
  • Montana Historical Society (Bozeman, Montana) and Montana Office of Public Instruction Indian Education for All Divisions for Best Practices in Museum Education: Museums and Schools as Co-Educators.
  • North Carolina Museum of History (Raleigh, North Carolina) for the exhibit The Story of North Carolina.
  • Ohio Historical Society (Columbus, Ohio) for the exhibit Controversy: Pieces You Don’t Normally See; for the Ohio as America Online 4th Grade Textbook; and for the Ohio History Service Corps-AmeriCorps Program.

July 24, 2012

Kudos Affiliates! July-August 2012

As summer heats up, so too do Affiliate accomplishments!

The Michigan State University Museum (East Lansing, Michigan) received a new grant from the Asian Cultural Council, New York City, to establish a partnership between the Michigan State University Museum and Yunnan Nationalities Museum, in Kunming, China. The $12,000 grant is aimed at creating new resources online that can be used to access Chinese folklife and ethnographic collections by scholars, museums and the public.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati, Ohio) will receive a $1.8 million grant over three years as part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s America Healing program. The three-year grant will be used for programs to increase student and public awareness and understanding about the history of racial oppression in this country.

The Long Island Museum (Stony Brook, New York) has received a grant of $286,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The highly competitive grant, awarded to only a few museums nationwide, will complete the revitalization of the Carriage Museum with two new exhibition galleries.

The GAR Foundation has awarded a $30,000 grant to the Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, Ohio), for educational programming at Hale Farm & Village.

Three Affiliates received Smithsonian Community Grants program sponsored by MetLife Foundation as part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibitions Services (SITES):

  • Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio, Texas) received $5,000 to fund programming that fosters self-identification and pride for dual heritage African-Native Texans. The grant will support honoraria for several scholars, craft and educational materials, and the marketing and advertising of events related to the themes of IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas.
  • San Diego Museum of Man (San Diego, California) was awarded $3,750 to fund the honoraria of Native American skate industry professionals who will participate in a panel discussion. The grant will also support the marketing of programming related to the themes of Ramp it Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America.
  • Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum (McMinnville, Oregon) will receive $2,160 to fund the busing of economically disadvantaged and minority youth in the regional Portland area to view Black Wings: An American Dream of Flight.

A technology upgrade for Ellen Noel Art Museum (Odessa, Texas) is the result of a Permian Basin Area Foundation $5,000 grant. This technology upgrade will help support the museum’s existing website and social media sites.

American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) announced the winners of their 2012 Leadership in History Awards Winners including the following Affiliates:

  • Arizona State Museum (Tucson, Arizona) for the exhibit Many Mexicos: Vistas de la Frontera
  • Conner Prairie Interactive History Park (Fishers, Indiana) for the exhibit 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana.
  • Montana Historical Society (Bozeman, Montana) and Montana Office of Public Instruction Indian Education for All Divisions for Best Practices in Museum Education: Museums and Schools as Co-Educators.
  • North Carolina Museum of History (Raleigh, North Carolina) for the exhibit The Story of North Carolina.
  • Ohio Historical Society (Columbus, Ohio) for the exhibit Controversy: Pieces You Don’t Normally See; for the Ohio as America Online 4th Grade Textbook; and for the Ohio History Service Corps-AmeriCorps Program.

August 24, 2011

kudos affiliates! september 2011

Affiliates have been busy in September!  Kudos to all.

The Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, MI) raised $285,887, with $150,000, from the Museums for America grant program. The funds will benefit the museum’s Understanding Arabs, Arab-Americans and Islam initiative, which aims to educate students throughout the Midwest. The museum also has been awarded a $150,000 grant by the American Association of Museums (AAM) for a project titled Watch Your Waste. The grant enables the Museum to partner with the Children’s Museum Jordan in Amman, Jordan, to create an e-museum where children from both countries will simultaneously conduct research about the garbage their families generate and dispose of.

Seven other Affiliates received Museums for America grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services:

Michigan State University Museum (East Lansing, Michigan) will receive nearly $150,000 to complete chemical testing for natural science specimens and to make database and technological enhancements for its natural science and cultural collections.

 USS Constitution Museum Foundation(Charlestown, Massachusetts) will received $149,023 for a hands-on, Old Ironsides 1812 Discovery Center gallery and programs, grounded in research and designed for all ages, to learn about the USS Constitution and the War of 1812.

National Civil War Museum (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) will receive $138,600 to fund The Civil War 150 Years Later—Bringing History Back for the Future, a primarily Web-based project that is intended to enhance educational resources available to teachers, students, and the public on the Civil War.

Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) will receive $112,760 to design, create, and coordinate travel for a 500-square-foot exhibition about the role of western Pennsylvania in the Civil War. 

Chabot Space and Science Center (Oakland, California) will receive $149,963 to implement the design phase of its upcoming outdoor exhibit, Launchpad. Through Launchpad, students and visitors will learn about space and the sciences as they play and engage in hands-on activities throughout the exhibit.

Conner Prairie (Fishers, Indiana) will receive $141,885 to develop and implement Test Lab: Indiana Inventions, a 500-square-foot exhibit focusing on the themes of energy, innovation and invention; life sciences; and environment and nature; that will place visitors in the role of a scientific investigator. 

Hubbard Museum of the American West (Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico) will receive $79,355 to upgrade and add technology to its new distance learning center to provide new opportunities to learn about the history and culture of the southwest for adults, families, and pre-K through grade 12 students.

 Two other Affiliates received funding for the 2011 Museums & Community Collaborations Abroad (MCCA) program by the American Association of Museums and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs:

Atomic Testing Museum (Las Vegas, Nevada) will partner with the Karaganda Ecological Museum (Karaganda, Kazakhstan) to develop Nuclear Weapons Testing Legacy: The Tale of Two Cultures. Students in both cities will collect oral histories and radiation data from the areas surrounding the Nevada and Semipalatinsk test sites. Ultimately, participants will produce a joint report and conduct symposiums with experts in each country to explore the local and international implications of their findings.

California Science Center (Los Angeles, California) will work with Maloka (Bogota, Colombia) to create Rainforest Leadership Academy: Cross-Cultural Teacher Training and Mentoring.  To empower teachers with the resources, skills, knowledge, and the confidence to deliver inquiry-based science lessons to their classes, the California Science Center and Maloka will enlist mentor teachers from local public schools to collaboratively develop materials for teacher professional-development trainings and student activities.

The African American Museum in Philadelphia(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) was awarded $149,287  as part of the Museum Grant for African American History and Culture by The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  AAMP will create resources for smaller museums through a project that trains future African American museum professionals.

Three affiliates received grants from The National Endowment for the Humanities to support ongoing projects.

Montana Historical Society (Helena, Montana) received $290,000 to digitize over 100,000 pages of Montana’s microfilmed newspapers, dating from 1864 to 1922, as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).

Center for Jewish History (New York, New York) will receive $103,657 to support the digitization of approximately 1,000 volumes to add to the Wissenschaft des Judentums library, which was dispersed and partially destroyed during World War II.

Oklahoma Historical Society (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) was awarded $325,000 to support the digitization of 100,000 pages of Oklahoma newspapers dating from 1836 to 1922, as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).

 JP Morgan Chase & Co. is donating $1 million to the Perot Museum of Nature & Science (Dallas, Texas) to support the Bio Lab and related educational programming in the Being Human Hall, which will be part of the new museum under construction.

Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center (Dowell, Maryland), received a $12,000 grant from The Dominion Foundation’s to give more than 60 teens an opportunity to participate in center’s summer arts program.

The Museum of History & Industry (Seattle, Washington) has received a gift of $10 million from Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive officer of Seattle-based Amazon.com. The grant will be used to establish the Center for Innovation at the new MOHAI opening in late fall of 2012.

January 14, 2011

affiliates in the news

Congratulations to these Affiliates making headlines this week! 

Conner Prairie received the National Medal for Museum Service, a top honor for museums and libraries. (Photo Courtesy Conner Prairie)

Conner Prairie (Fishers, Indiana)
Top museum honor goes to Conner PrairieREAD MORE 

Miami Science Museum (Miami, Florida)
MiaSci receives girls’ education grantREAD MORE 

African American Museum in Philadelphia (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Citizens Bank Foundation donates $25,000, sponsors free Community Day at the African American MuseumREAD MORE 

National Museum of American Jewish History (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
A Museum Taken on Faith…READ MORE
Here’s how to navigate Philly’s newest addition…READ MORE

Montana Historical Society
(Helena, Montana)
Montana Historical Society keeps accreditation…READ MORE

U.S. Space and Rocket Center (Huntsville, Alabama)
Bobby’s Bama: U.S. Space And Rocket CenterREAD MORE

September 28, 2010

Blogathon for “October is American Archives Month”

Smithsonian Affiliates are invited to join Smithsonian archives staff in the 31-day blogathon in October!  Raise awareness of your archival collections by sharing stories on your blog about who you are, what you do, and how you work.  Show off the little-known gems in your collection, tell us about your research, or take us behind-the-scenes in your archives. Smithsonian archives staff will also be writing about what happens in their archives, describing projects they are working on, and telling stories about particular items in their collections.

Montana Historical Society Archives stacks. Photo courtesy Jeff Malcomson, Government Records Archivist, Montana Historical Society.

Affiliate Montana Historical Society (MHS) has already signed up to participate in the blogathon.  Their blog Montana History Revealed will look back at the MHS Archives’ own history of preserving Montana’s historic documents.  And during an evening program on Oct 7 called “Who Do We Think We Are?,” MHS Archives staff members will explore the dramatic and sometimes humorous history of the archives collection and the people who have cared for it.

We’ve already got MHS on the list…Your Archives could be next!

It’s easy! Simply write a blog on your own page and forward Elizabeth Bugbee the link. We’ll include you in a list of participating bloggers on the “Archives Month at the Smithsonian” website.  In addition, Smithsonian Affiliations will cross-promote your post on the Affiliate blog and Smithsonian In Your Neighborhood Facebook page.

Be sure to use “Archives Month” as a label or category in your blog so it’s easily tagged. And stand out even more by Tweeting about your post using #archivesmonth.

Film archived at the Center for the History of Psychology (Akron, Ohio).

Our Smithsonian Archivists are eager to learn more about Affiliate archives, and what better way than telling your story. As affiliates of the Smithsonian Institution, you’re our ambassadors in neighborhoods across the country, so let’s spread the word about how fascinating your archival collections are!

About “October is American Archives Month”
Archives throughout the Smithsonian will be celebrating 2010′s American Archives Month with the first-even Smithsonian Archives Fair and a 31-day Blogathon. More information is on the “Archives Month at the Smithsonian” web page. October is American Archives Month, has been developed to focus on the importance of the Smithsonian’s vast collections of archival and historical records and to highlight the many individual Smithsonian archival units responsible for maintaining these rich and complex documentary resources. 

About Smithsonian Institution’s archives
The Smithsonian Institution’s archives preserve memories, tell stories and solve mysteries every day. The public may visit the Archives’ websites here, search their holdings at the Smithsonian Collections Search Center and read the Smithsonian Collections Blog here.

For further questions on how your blog can participate in the 31-day blogathon, contact Elizabeth Bugbee (202) 633-5304.

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