March 24, 2015
Among other benefits, Smithsonian Affiliates learn about new Smithsonian traveling exhibitions first! We’re pleased to bring you two exciting new exhibitions that will travel. The first, Armchair Archaeology: Paul Singer’s Search for Ancient China from the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery details the amazing story of collector Dr. Paul Singer, a psychiatrist by trade who amassed a wide-ranging Chinese art collection, now part of the Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian.
He collected most aggressively after he immigrated to the United States in 1939, making discoveries at art dealers, auction houses, and thrift stores alike. A self-taught, amateur scholar-collector who never learned the Chinese language, Singer managed to secure a research appointment at the Metropolitan Museum of Art due to his remarkable visual memory and extensive experience in the field.
The exhibition examines both archaeology and miniatures through topical groupings of objects dating from the Bronze Age (circa 1800–300 BCE) to the Ming dynasty (1368–1644.) In addition to exploring form, function, and meaning, the ninety-five objects in the exhibition also represent a range of media, including jade, marble, fluorite, bone, ivory, amber, gold, silver, bronze, and ceramics from earthenware to porcelain. This breadth reflects Singer’s ambition to amass “a sequential development in all the materials worked by Chinese artists.” For more information and a pdf with an overview of the exhibition, Please email us.
Across the Mall, from National Air and Space Museum, comes Art of the Airport Tower. The exhibition is the second to feature photographs from Museum Specialist, Carolyn Russo. The first, In Plane View, traveled to many Affiliates over its multi-year run, and is currently on view at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. Both exhibitions feature stunning photographs of their subjects; Art of the Airport Tower shows these often overlooked utilitarian structures as beautiful art in our everyday lives. It is a photographic journey to airports in the U.S. and around the world.
Russo documents these important architectural structures to bring a heightened awareness to their simple beauty and call for their preservation. She is available for lectures and public programs to venues hosting the exhibition.
Art of the Airport Tower includes historic towers such as the Ford Island Tower, which stood the day of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, as well as today’s heavily trafficked airports such as London’s Heathrow Airport. International towers–including several of the world’s tallest towers, one of which is the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand–are also highlighted. Captions describe the airport and the towers’ significance, and an introduction by F. Robert van der Linden tells the history of airport towers to contextualize Russo’s work.
This exhibit will attract a diverse audience, appealing to anyone with an interest in aviation, aerospace, art, photography, technology, history, culture, and architecture. Please let us know if you’re interested!
March 23, 2015
February 24, 2015
January 7, 2015
October 27, 2014
October 14, 2014
On the road in sunny California!
Three and a half days, 559 miles and visits to eight Smithsonian Affiliates in southern California, only just begins to describe my recent trip to the west coast. I had traveled to Los Angeles to attend the opening event for Cahuilla Continuum: Túku, Ívax, Túleka, the Riverside Metropolitan Museum’s exhibition telling the story of a Southern California Native people, the Cahuilla. This gave me the welcome opportunity of visiting the Smithsonian Affiliates in and surrounding Los Angeles. The following is a recap of my whirlwind tour.
I should start by saying that with 23 Smithsonian Affiliates, California has more Smithsonian Affiliates than any other state in the union. Most states have three or four (and we have yet to Affiliate with a few states) but the diversity of California’s cultural landscape is certainly well represented in our west coast partners.
Cerritos Library, is a library (and Smithsonian Affiliate) like few others. There is an aquarium, reading labs, exhibition spaces and an art collection. It was terrific to see the community using this resource so thoroughly.
The garden at LA Plaza through the grey metal gates.
On day 2, I visited LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, a wonderful space in a historic building- often so rare in the west. The garden takes advantage of the hot California sun to teach students about nutrition and agriculture.
The Apollo Boilerplate at Columbia Memorial Space Center, on loan from the National Air and Space Museum.
In the afternoon, I visited the Columbia Memorial Space Center, home to an Apollo “Boilerplate,” on loan from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Then I headed towards northeast toward Alta Loma to visit one of our newest Smithsonian Affiliates, the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts. The visit to this woodworker artist’s home gave me a better understanding of the huge impact his work has had in the art world.
Here I am in a Sam Maloof chair.
The next day, my morning began with a visit to a school on an Indian reservation; the Riverside Metropolitan Museum had brought two scholars from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian as part of their annual Smithsonian Week in Riverside. The students asked great questions and shared their own experiences with the visitors from DC. We stopped in at the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum in Palm Springs, also a Smithsonian Affiliate, to see their latest exhibition, Through You, Our Ancient Leaders, We Became: Birth of the Agua Caliente Band.
Michael Hammond, Director of Agua Caliente Cultural Museum and Sarah Mundy, Director of Riverside Metropolitan Museum in front of the display case holding the artifacts on loan from the National Museum of the American Indian.
On the last day of my visit I
Students explore study collections after Jill Norwood and Emil Her Many Horses from the National Museum of the American Indian spoke to students during Smithsonian Week in Riverside.
stopped in on two Affiliates: Millard Sheets Art Center in Pomona and the Western Science Center in Hemet, both doing great work connecting their communities with educational resources. I ended my day with the event that had brought me to California: the Riverside Metropolitan Museum was celebrating the opening of their Cahuilla Continuum exhibition, which included three artifacts from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. They were deservedly proud of their work and we were proud of the wonderful partnership between Riverside (and all of the terrific Affiliates in California) and the Smithsonian.
October 9, 2014
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Road Report- Harold, October 8, 2014
Houston, we have liftoff!
The first thing you see when you pull into the parking lot of Space Center Houston is a full-scale space shuttle replica perched upon a NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. It’s a neck-stretching sight, and an awesome introduction to the many wonders of our new Smithsonian Affiliate.
Space shuttle replica atop a NASA shuttle carrier
Opened in 1992, Space Center Houston boggles your brain, tugs at your heart, and sparks your imagination at every turn – it’s the story of spaceflight under one (very large) roof, with many more roofs (and displays) next door at the Johnson Space Center.
Richard Allen, Chief Executive Officer, Space Center Houston, in front of Mercury Space Capsule on loan from the National Air and Space Museum.
Richard Allen, Space Center Houston chief executive officer, and his hard working staff have created a diverse array of engaging experiences – large-format film theaters, interactive spaces for children of all ages, demonstration stages led by knowledgeable and enthusiastic interpreters, and dramatically lit exhibitions that tell the inspiring history of the U.S. space program – its triumphs, tragedies, and enduring influence on our dreams of the future.
Mars Rover prototype on loan from NASM.
Of course, it was a pleasure to see so many artifacts on loan from our National Air and Space Museum (NASM), employed to give an accurate and detailed rendering of the history of spaceflight – command modules like the “Faith 7” Mercury capsule, Gemini 5 and Apollo 17, spacesuits worn by astronauts Michael Collins, Pete Conrad and “Wally” Schirra, a walkthrough Skylab, and a Mars rover prototype – to name just a few. If you take the tour of the Johnson Space Center, you’ll also see a lovingly restored Saturn V Rocket, also on loan from NASM, displayed horizontally in a building nearly 400 feet long. The thought of sitting atop this engineering marvel, waiting to be propelled to the moon, sends shivers down your spine.
Richard Allen and Meg Naumann, Director of Development, in front of the Saturn V rocket, also on loan from NASM.
There’s never enough time to see everything going on at an Affiliate museum or to meet all of the incredible folks who make it happen – staff, volunteers, and supporters – but after a day-and-a half in San Antonio, at The Witte Museum and the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, and six hours at Space Center Houston, I came away with the distinct impression that “The Lone Star State” has a lot more than one star in its firmament. We are honored that so many Texas luminaries populate our galaxy of Smithsonian Affiliates.
Catch up on Harold’s Witte Museum blog here.