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May 4, 2015

Katharine Hepburn at The Durham Museum

Special thanks for this guest post to Amy Henderson, National Portrait Gallery’s historian emerita. Amy is a cultural historian specializing in “the lively arts”—particularly media-generated celebrity culture. Her books and exhibitions run the gamut from the pioneers in early broadcasting to Elvis Presley, Katharine Hepburn and Katharine Graham.

In the late 1980s, I met writer-director Garson Kanin at a Washington dinner party, and he set the stage for one of my happiest adventures as a cultural historian at the National Portrait Gallery. When I discovered that Garson, who wrote and directed all of the Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy movies, lived next door to Herself in New York, I whined until he promised to give me her address. My excuse? The Portrait Gallery needed a fine portrait of the iconic actress!

Garson’s introduction worked, and I got to know Miss Hepburn in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. I would have coffee and cookies with her when I traveled to New York, and we always went on an exploration of all the portraits she kept in her townhouse; there were a lot, since she had known artists her entire life.

She mentioned “all the costumes” on the upper floor, but I never got a glimpse. Now, thanks to the Durham Museum in Omaha, the costumes are on full view. “Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen” is drawn from the Kent State Museum’s Hepburn Costume Collection, and features more than 35 costumes worn in 21 films and 6 stage productions—and some of her private life clothes.

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Mick Hale, Director of Education at the Durham, heard that I had curated a 2007 Portrait Gallery exhibition celebrating Hepburn’s centennial, and invited me to speak about her life in conjunction with the Durham’s costume show. I eagerly accepted, and spoke at this Smithsonian Affiliate in April. Talking about her life, I focused mainly on Hepburn’s remarkable ability to fashion her own image, even in the heyday of the Hollywood studio system when studios configured their stars to reflect their own particular movie “brand.”  E.g., Warner Bros. had a “Murderers’ Row” of gangsters, while MGM boasted “all the stars in the heavens.”

The Durham has been a Smithsonian Affiliate since 2002, and Mick Hale estimates that they have hosted 25 or so traveling exhibitions such as the Hepburn costumes. Other recent speakers have included Mike Neufeld from the National Air and Space Museum, who spoke about the Apollo 8 mission during the Durham’s “1968” exhibition; and Smithsonian Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture, Richard Kurin, who shared his stories about 101 Smithsonian artifacts last Fall when the Durham hosted the Franklin Institute’s traveling exhibit “Identity: An Exhibition of You.”

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My visit was enormous fun. First, the museum itself is lodged in what had been a stunning Art Deco train station that opened in 1931; lofty ceilings and a sense of bustle create an instantly uplifting “wow” museum experience. Second, for me it was great to see the costumes Hepburn wore during her long stage and screen career. Her waist was TINY—20”—and it was fascinating to see costumes from such landmark performances as the Broadway version of the Philadelphia Story. I also lingered over the section that spotlighted her impeccably tailored tan slacks, of which she had dozens.

My visit came at the end of Mick Hale’s tenure as education director at the Durham. After ten years, he is heading toward new challenges, directing a leadership initiative in Lincoln. But his dynamic partnership with the Smithsonian will remain firmly rooted at the Durham. “The museum and I are very proud of what we have done with the Smithsonian,” he told me, “and I know the quality work and collaboration will continue for a long time.”

image003All photos courtesy of the Durham Museum.

April 22, 2015

coming up in affiliateland in may 2015

The 2015 class of inductees to the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

The 2015 class of inductees to the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Affiliations director Harold Closter will give remarks at the Affiliations announcement at the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville, 5.7.

WASHINGTON, D.C.
The National Inventors Hall of Fame (headquartered in North Canton, OH) will host a series of innovation events at the Smithsonian to celebrate the 2015 class of inductees – 14 trailblazing inventors.  The induction ceremony will be held at the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum, 5.12.  Innovation Echo, a panel discussion with inductees, co-hosted by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, will take place at the National Museum of American History, 5.13.

MARYLAND
College Park Aviation Museum will host From Queen Bee to Drone Fever: The Strange Evolution of Unmanned Aircraft, a public lecture by National Air and Space curator Roger Conner in College Park, 5.14.

Dig_It_poster_300NORTH CAROLINA
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will open SITES Dig It: The Secrets of Soil in Raleigh, 5.16.

April 17, 2015

new webcasts from the National Air and Space Museum

Filed under: General — Tags: , — Aaron Glavas @ 1:27 pm

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM) is developing nine STEM in 30live, fast-paced 30-minute webcasts which will be made available to teachers and students in grades 5-8 classrooms across the country. The primary goal of this program is to increase interest and engagement in STEM for students.  STEM in 30 hopes to achieve:

from the webcast "Earth Day: A View from Above"

from the webcast “Earth Day: A View from Above”

– Increased interest in STEM and STEM careers
– Increased understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics topics
– Increased awareness and importance of current and future human space exploration

This series of webcasts from the National Air and Space Museum and partner sites focus on STEM subjects that integrate all four content areas. The webcasts will feature NASA and NASM curators, scientists, and educators exploring STEM subjects using museum and NASA collections, galleries, and activities. During the 30-minute broadcasts, students will engage with museum experts through experiments and activities, ask the experts questions, and answer interactive poll questions through the interactive ‘Cover It Live’ feature.

The webcast will be available live on the National Air and Space Museum website as well as NASA TV.  After the live broadcasts, NASM will archive the webcasts in an interactive STEM in 30 Gallery.

from the webcast "Hot Air Balloons and Air Pressure"

from the webcast “Hot Air Balloons and Air Pressure”

Upcoming and archived topics include Space Junk, the Wright Brothers, Space Food, Living and Working in Space, and more.

Affiliates are encouraged to share this new resource with their school partners, host “viewing parties” in their own museums, or show the archived webcasts in their galleries or theaters at any time.  If your organization decides to broadcast any of these webcasts, let us know!

March 24, 2015

A First Look at New Traveling Exhibitions from the Smithsonian

singerAmong 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.

singer2fsga 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.

BIG_11EDI_6621F310_13rz copy 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.
DXB_8150F2rz copy

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

coming up in Affiliateland in April 2015

Spring is here in Affiliateland!

PENNSYLVANIA
The National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) will open the Richard Avedon: Family Affairs exhibition featuring reproductions of the photographer’s work from Smithsonian collections, 4.1 . The National Museum of American History will collaborate with NMAJH to host a Let’s Do History workshop for teachers in Philadelphia, 4.7.

The African American Museum in Philadelphia will co-sponsor the Emancipation 2015 Symposium, featuring a keynote by Nancy Bercaw, curator at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Philadelphia, 4.25.

WeCanDoItThe Heinz History Center will open You Can Do It! World War II exhibition, featuring six artifact loans from the National Museum of American History and the National Air and Space Museum, in Pittsburgh, 4.25.

VIRGINIA
The Smithsonian Associates lead a tour on “Politics and Society in Civil War-era Richmond” featuring the American Civil War Center in Richmond, 4.4.

VERMONT
The Sullivan Museum and History Center will feature a lecture by Tom Crouch, senior curator at the National Air and Space Museum on Lincoln’s military aeronautics in the Civil War in Northfield, 4.8.

NEBRASKA
The Durham Museum will host National Portrait Gallery curator Amy Henderson for a lecture on “Katharine Hepburn: Master of Her Own Image,” in Omaha, 4.9.

COLORADO
History Colorado will feature a lecture by National Air and Space Museum curator Mike Neufeld on Apollo 8 as a complement to the 1968 exhibition in Denver, 4.21.

TENNESSEE
The Museum Center at 5ive Points will open SITES IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas in Cleveland, 4.24.

national_youth_summit_0NATIONWIDE
The National Museum of American History will host a National Youth Summit: War on Poverty program in collaboration with several Affiliates: the Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, MI); HistoryMiami (Miami, FL); Museum of History and Industry (Seattle, WA); National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati, OH); and Oklahoma History Center (Oklahoma City, OK), 4.28.

GEORGIA
Will you be at the American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting? So will we! Say hi to Affiliations’ national outreach managers Laura Hansen and Caroline Mah in Atlanta, 4.29.

February 24, 2015

kudos Affiliates! for March 2015

Congrats to these Affiliates on their recent accomplishments.

FUNDING
The Army Heritage Center Foundation recently received two grants from The Donald B. & Dorothy L. Stabler Foundation and the G.B. Stuart Charitable Foundation to support the expansion of the Visitor Center at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (Carlisle, PA.)  The grants are in addition to a $2 million Economic Growth Initiative Grant awarded to the Foundation by the State commonwealth earlier this year.

The iconic helium balloon that has flown high in the central Indiana sky since 2009 has a new sponsor. Reynolds Farm Equipment is now the presenting sponsor of the 1859 Balloon Voyage experience at Conner Prairie, an interactive history park (Fishers, IN).  Through 2019, the company will provide up to $375,000 to support the balloon and its new exhibit space.

The Arvin Gottlieb Charitable Foundation will donate $250,000 toward building a “space portal” that will connect Science City, the Gottlieb Planetarium and the Regnier Extreme Screen Theatre at Union Station (Kansas City, MO).   The portal will be designed to resemble a futuristic space station.  The project is part of a planned $10 million renovation.

A $1 million donation will enable the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History  (Ft. Worth, TX) to focus on new technology for its digital learning programs. Museum officials said they hope to raise another $1 million to match the donation from the Kleinheinz Family Foundation.  The money will go toward upgrading technology for the institution’s science, math and language literacy programs, which run from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, along with its public programs for families and adults.

Mystic Seaport (Mystic, CT) announces a gift of $1 million from the Thompson Family Foundation honoring the late Wade Thompson, a Museum trustee for 27 years. This gift will be directed to a new 14,000 square-foot exhibition building to include a state-of-the-art, 5,000 square-foot exhibit hall. This will be the largest among Mystic Seaport’s seven galleries and will provide the caliber of conditions required to curate not only exhibits from the Museum’s collection, but also permit the borrowing of outstanding art and artifacts from other museums around the world.

Flushing Town Hall (Flushing, NY) has met its campaign goal of raising $35,000 to match equal funding from an anonymous donor, ahead of its February 28 deadline.   The “35” in the campaign goal represents this year’s 35th anniversary of the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, a member of New York City’s 33-member Cultural Institutions Group.

ACHIEVEMENTS & RECOGNITION
Tellus Science Museum (Cartersville, GA) was recognized with awards during the recent Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries annual conference.  Tellus was honored with three distinguished awards:

  • The Moon Rock display received a Best Museum Exhibition award. The exhibit combines Apollo artifacts from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum with an impressive lunar sample from NASA.
  • Tellus volunteer Bob Gossman was recognized as Museum Volunteer of the Year for his outstanding contribution to Tellus. Working full-time in a career that takes him all over the world, Gossman has still volunteered more than 1500 hours in less than 6 years.
  • Tellus was also voted Best Kid-friendly Museum by readers of Atlanta Magazine for 2014.

LEADERSHIP
Julie Johnson recently started her tenure as President of the International Museum of Art and Science (McAllen, TX).  Julie came from leadership positions at the Michigan Science Center and Detroit Children’s Museum.

January 7, 2015

coming up in Affiliateland in winter 2015

A roundup of events throughout the Affiliate network from December 2014 – February 2015.

U.S. mail box, plated with 24-karat gold and studded with 137 sapphires, 100 rubies, 25 diamonds, and 10 emeralds, on view at the Tellus Science Museum.

U.S. mail box, plated with 24-karat gold and studded with 137 sapphires, 100 rubies, 25 diamonds, and 10 emeralds, on view at the Tellus Science Museum.

GEORGIA
The Tellus Science Museum opened Jeweled Objects of Desire with 47 objects on loan from the National Museum of Natural History in Cartersville, 12.6.14

WASHINGTON
The Museum of Flight opened SITES’ Suited for Space in Seattle, 12.13.14.

National Museum of the American Indian curator Cecile Ganteaume will present a keynote talk at a three-day program on American Indian basketry, hosted by the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane, 2.26.15.

SOUTH DAKOTA
The South Dakota State Historical Society presented Native Sports with Olympic Gold Medalist Billy Mills – a rebroadcast of an online seminar by the National Museum of the American Indian on Native Olympians, and a discussion with a South Dakotan Olympic athlete in Pierre, 12.14.14

MARYLAND
National Air and Space Museum curator Andrew Johnston served on a jury panel for an upcoming exhibition on the cosmos at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Art Center in Solomons, 12.16.14.

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum for Maryland African American History and Culture will host a screening of the Smithsonian Channel’s new documentary The Legend of Leadbelly with a talk by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings producer Jeff Place in Baltimore, 2.5.15.

NEW YORK
The Museum of American Finance presented Smithsonian Board of Regents member David Rubenstein with the Whitehead Award for Distinguished Public Service and Financial Leadership at its annual gala in Manhattan, 1.13.15.

The Smithsonian National Board enjoyed a private tour of the Museum of American Finance, as well as a performance by a jazz ensemble organized by the National Jazz Museum in Harlem in Manhattan, 1.22.15.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will talk about Women of the West at the Heard Museum in Phoenix.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will talk about Women of the West at the Heard Museum in Phoenix.

ARIZONA
The Heard Museum  opened Beautiful Games: American Indians in Sports including two paintings on loan from the American Art Museum, 12.18.14.  The Heard Museum also hosted a public program entitled What It Means to be American: The Women of the West, co-created by the National Museum of American History, 1.14.15.  Kevin Gover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian, will deliver a keynote lecture as part of the Indigenous Stereotypes in Sports symposium at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, 1.30.15.

NORTH CAROLINA
The Schiele Museum of Natural History opens The Solar System: A Journey of Exploration exhibition featuring object loans from the National Air and Space Museum in Gastonia, 1.17.15

CALIFORNIA
The Riverside Metropolitan Museum opened SITES’ I Want the Wide American Earth in Riverside, 12.20.14.

The Sonoma County Museum will open SITES’ Indivisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas exhibition in Santa Rosa, 1.24.15.

The Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts will announce their Smithsonian affiliation with a lecture by Nora Atkinson of the American Art Museum in Alta Loma, 1.24.15.

FLORIDA
The Mennello Museum of American Art will open the Real Lives: Observations and Reflections by Dale Kenington exhibition which includes one painting on loan from the American Art Museum in Orlando, 1.23.15.

INDIANA
Conner Prairie will host a lecture by National Air and Space Museum curator Tom Crouch on ballooning in the antebellum Midwest in Fishers, 1.28.15.

ALABAMA
Smithsonian Undersecretary for History, Art and Culture Richard Kurin will give a public lecture on his book The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, 1.29.15.

UCAR in Boulder, Colorado.

UCAR in Boulder, Colorado.

COLORADO
The Telluride Historical Museum will host a film screening and viewing of student projects in relation to their Places of Invention project with the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, in Telluride, 1.13.15.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research will announce its Smithsonian affiliation with comments from Affiliations program director Harold Closter in Boulder, 1.29.15.

History Colorado will open the exhibition 1968: The Year that Rocked America with loans from the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History.  The Museum will open a complementary exhibition, El Movimiento, to include comments from Eduardo Díaz, director of the Smithsonian Latino Center, in Denver, 2.6-7.15.
The Museum will also host a screening of the Smithsonian Channel’s new documentary The Legend of Leadbelly with a talk by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings producer Jeff Place in Denver, 2.19.15.

PENNSYLVANIA
The African American Museum in Philadelphia will host a screening of the Smithsonian Channel’s new documentary The Legend of Leadbelly with a talk by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings producer Jeff Place in Philadelphia, 2.12.15.

The Heinz History Center will also host The Legend of Leadbelly screening in Pittsburgh, 2.18.15.

One of Chuck Jones' drawings, soon to be on view in Fort Worth.

One of Chuck Jones’ drawings, soon to be on view in San Antonio.

TEXAS
The Forth Worth Museum of Science and History  opens SITES’ What’s Up Doc? The Animation of Chuck Jones exhibition in Fort Worth, 2.14.15.

The Institute of Texan Cultures opens the Sikhs: Legacy of the Punjab exhibition organized by the Smithsonian, in San Antonio, 2.21.15.

NEW MEXICO
The Las Cruces Museum System will host the outreach and professional development program Let’s Do History in collaboration with the National Museum of American History, in Las Cruces, 2.19-20.15.

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