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January 29, 2014

Announcing Leadership Seminar for Affiliates

gwlogoRecognizing that the need for leadership skills is fundamental in the field, Smithsonian Affiliations has recently signed an agreement to offer leadership training to staff of Affiliate museums in collaboration with George Washington University’s Museum Studies Program.   The Smithsonian has a long standing collaborative relationship with GW that encompasses internships, joint research programs, and research fellowships.   GW’s Museum Studies program is a nationally-known graduate training program with core curriculum in collections, exhibition development and design, new media, and museum management and leadership.  Since conducting a survey of Affiliate staff in 2012, GWs Associate Professor of Museum Studies, Martha Morris, has worked with Affiliations Director, Harold Closter, to design a two-day seminar to be held here in Washington, D.C., on June 26 and 27, 2014, following the Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference.

Museums today face incredible challenges as well as new opportunities. Globalization, new technologies, competition,  accountability, collections preservation, financial turmoil and staffing changes are all major concerns. In addition, professional standards and ethical mandates continue to evolve.  Museums need highly trained staff, committed governance, and innovative leaders to assure their long term sustainability.  The 21st-century workforce demands individuals who are collaborative, flexible, imaginative, and innovative.  The goal of this collaboration between the Smithsonian and GW is to provide opportunities for staff at all levels of the museum to gain needed skills that will position them and their organization for success.

The program will provide opportunity for interaction with leaders at the Smithsonian and other museums as well as faculty of GW.  Topics will include practical skills in management systems as well as strategic thinking and leadership philosophy.   The value of the seminar will be in developing new skills as well as creating new networks for continuing professional growth.

The program will be reasonably priced with a limited number of scholarships available.  Registration will be opening in April, but we encourage you to save the dates now.  For further information about the seminar please contact Professor Martha Morris, George Washington University Museum Studies program at morrism@gwu.edu.

Photo courtesy George Washington University.

Photo courtesy George Washington University.

August 16, 2010

annette shumway: summer at the smithsonian

We invited our recent Smithsonian Affiliate interns and visiting professionals to blog about their experiences in our “Summer at the Smithsonian” series. Below, Annette Shumway, intern partner from the Frost Art Museum (Miami, FL) shares the story of her summer internship at the National Postal Museum.  Special thanks to Annette for this post!

As a graduate student in the Museum Studies Certificate program at Florida International University I’ve focused much of my research efforts on digitization projects being undertaken by museums and archives.  I am particularly interested in the effective administration and proper usage of current technologies for digital projects and believe that without organization much time and resources could be wasted. I was looking for an internship that would provide a meaningful, sensory experience that would enhance all of the learning that I had acquired, but couldn’t quite find one. When my Museum Studies Coordinator suggested I look into Smithsonian Affiliations Internship Program (our campus museum –The Frost Art Museum- is a Smithsonian Affiliate), I was excited because I would actually be able to execute my own project at the Frost, after I acquired hands-on skills at the Smithsonian.

I was placed with Kate Diggle, Database Administrator at the National Postal Museum (NPM). At NPM digitization of the collection is a high priority.  While at the museum I had the opportunity to work on two different projects involving digitization. 

We worked on one collection consisting of modern philatelic and postal history artifacts which are being transferred from the USPS to the National Postal Museum’s care.  We re-housed, marked, and cataloged all of the objects during the first phase. Next, we created digital records for more than 4000 records down to the item level.   Hard work, but we accomplished our task a month ahead of schedule!  With the help of curators and conservation staff, we identified the items that would be the best candidates for imaging. Some of the artifacts in the collection were larger than the imaging equipment we had in-house, so we couriered these objects to a facility that would be able to handle our imaging needs. It was fascinating to courier the objects and to have access to some of the most state-of-the-art equipment in the field of image capture.  

The second project involved the actual image capture of artifacts for an upcoming exhibit.  These images were added to the museum’s database and will be available online when the exhibit opens. This helps to preserve artifacts like letters from revolutionary war, civil war, and both world wars for future generations of researchers.  Thanks to instruction from the preservations, collections, and web team at NPM, I was able to hone the handling, technical and editing skills necessary for completing projects in digitization field.

Taking part in both of these projects has helped me understand the logistics behind coordinating loans and standards involved in collections’ imaging projects. I feel that much of the experience that I gained through this period will aid in the second portion of my internship at the Frost Art Museum. I look forward to contributing valuable knowledge to the digitization plan and efforts at the Frost.

November 24, 2009

adiós to a good friend

Filed under: enewsletter feature,General — Tags: , , — Harold Closter @ 10:13 am
Juan explains an exhibition concept during the Developing Exhibitions workshop in Washington, DC, June 2009

Juan explains an exhibition concept during the Developing Exhibitions workshop in Washington, DC, June 2009

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to Juan Pastoriza, a good friend and long-time collaborator with Smithsonian Affiliations.  Juan passed away on November 10, and will be greatly missed by his many colleagues, friends and family.

Juan was the director of the Museum and Center of Humanistic Studies at the Universidad del Turabo in Gurabo, Puerto Rico.  Recognizing a need for professional museum studies training on the Island, Juan worked with the Smithsonian to create a 4-part series of week-long workshops, leading to a certificate in Museum Studies.  Spanning collections care, public programming, exhibition development, and administration, Juan’s work touched scores of museum professionals in Puerto Rico, who went on to staff the Island’s museums, cultural organizations and municipal arts councils. 

Starting in 2002, the Smithsonian began sending its staff to Puerto Rico to lead and teach classes.  The entire Smithsonian was represented through these workshops, from curators to conservators, educators to administrators.  In some summers (2006 and 2009), Juan led a group of his peers to Washington, to go behind-the-scenes at the Smithsonian to experience museum practice first-hand.  In 2008, Juan worked with the Smithsonian to explore federal funding programs, attracting representatives from the NEA, NEH, IMLS, NSF, and the National Park Service to Puerto Rico, to discuss the details of writing successful federal grants.  Regardless of the location or topic, it was clear that Juan was committed to training the next generation of Puerto Rican museum professionals, and in the process, inspired his colleagues at the Smithsonian to be the best examples we could be.

The director of Smithsonian Affiliations, Harold Closter, offered these words of dedication, read at Juan’s memorial service on November 17 at the Universidad del Turabo:

Dear friends and members of the Pastoriza family,

We are deeply saddened by the news of Juan’s passing and reach out to all of you with our sympathies, compassion and love.  Juan touched our hearts and minds in ways that have changed us all, and in ways that we will never forget.  With a disarming smile and a gentle manner, he challenged us to be better teachers, better museum professionals, and better people.

The Smithsonian Institution owes Juan Pastoriza a great debt of gratitude for conceiving and organizing the annual Museum Studies Certificate program at the Universidad del Turabo.  The program was more than an academic exercise.  It was Juan’s way of preserving the heritage and traditional culture of Puerto Rico, a heritage he loved deeply and worked so hard for, by utilizing the resources of the Smithsonian to help train a new generation of Puerto Rican museum professionals. Through Juan, we had the privilege of working with the best and the brightest – museum staff, artists, community leaders, and passionate students.  Juan’s genius was to create an environment that eliminated the distinction between teacher and student.  Through Juan, we came together in a great circle of friendship and mutual learning. Juan and his students were often our teachers; from them learned as much as we imparted.

Each of us has strong memories of Juan – of his kindness, of his commitment, and of his probing mind.  He never stopped questioning and pushing us to unlock doors – doors that we couldn’t even name — that would make our work accessible and more useful to him and his students.  Because of Juan we have grown professionally and personally, and for that we shall be forever grateful.

A person like Juan is a gift that one experiences, if one is lucky, once in a lifetime. We were fortunate to receive this gift.  We know that Juan can never be replaced and we will miss him dearly.  He was a blessing whose presence enriched our lives and whose work will live on through all the people he touched. 

Adiós a nuestro amigo y hermano.  May your spirit continue to inspire us to honor the heritage and culture of your people, and the beauty and humanity of all people, everywhere. 

All of Juan’s Friends and Admirers at the
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC

 

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