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October 27, 2014

coming up in affiliateland in november 2014

Even though the weather is turning chilly, Affiliates are keeping things hot with events from coast to coast.

CALIFORNIA
General John Dailey, Director of the National Air and Space Museum, will be inducted into the International Air and Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air and Space Museum, 11.1.

pins on loan

Environmental pins on loan from the Smithsonian to an Affiliate in California

The Sonoma County Museum will present Hole in the Head: The Battle for Bodega Bay and the Birth of the Environmental Movement exhibition, featuring 13 protest buttons on loan from the National Museum of American History, in Santa Rosa, 11.2.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
The National Inventors Hall of Fame will participate in the Smithsonian Innovation Festival in Washington, 11.1-2.

Organized by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, an exhibition titled Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College opens at the Smithsonian, presented by the National Museum of African American History and Culture in their gallery at the National Museum of American History in Washington, 11.7.

PENNSYLVANIA
The Heinz History Center presents jazz innovation as part of its Places of Invention ongoing project with the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center, in Pittsburgh, 11.1.

NEBRASKA
Undersecretary Richard Kurin presents a talk and booksigning on The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects at the Durham Museum in Omaha, 11.4.

Earth from Space exhibition in New Mexico

Earth from Space exhibition in New Mexico

NEW MEXICO
Dr. Andrew Johnston, geographer and curator at the National Air and Space Museum, presents a public talk at the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, 11.6.

VIRGINIA
George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens presents The Face of the Nation: George Washington, Art, and America symposium, featuring National Portrait Gallery curator Wendy Wick Reaves and curator emerita Ellen Miles, at Mount Vernon, 11.7.

GEORGIA
National Portrait Gallery researcher and author Warren Perry presents a public lecture on Guns, Horses, Uniforms, and More Guns: Themes of American Civil War Visual Culture at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, 11.13.

Jeff Post, Curator at the National Museum of Natural History will present a public lecture on the Hope Diamond at the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, 11.21.

PUERTO RICO
Affiliations Director Harold Closter leads a workshop on Designing Museum Budgets at the Museo y Centro de Estudios Humanísticos in Gurabo, 11.15.

25 Smithsonian artifacts from the film industry will be on view soon in North Carolina

25 Smithsonian artifacts from the film industry will be on view soon in North Carolina

NORTH CAROLINA
The North Carolina Museum of History will present Starring North Carolina! an exhibition of the state’s role in the film industry featuring 25 artifacts on loan from the National Museum of American History, in Raleigh, 11.15.

LOUISIANA
Undersecretary Richard Kurin presents a talk and booksigning on The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, 11.18.

 

October 8, 2014

road report: Harold in San Antonio

I had the pleasure of announcing our new Affiliation with The Witte Museum in San Antonio on October 7, 2014.  By coincidence The Witte was also celebrating its 88th birthday, so it was a double pleasure.  Marise McDermott, President and CEO presided over the announcement ceremony which included San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor and City Council member Keith Toney.  Kind words were spread all around; as always I was humbled and honored to represent the Smithsonian.

San Antonio River runs by the Witte Museum, creating a 13 mile trail from Breckenridge Park to downtown.

San Antonio River runs by the Witte Museum, creating a 13 mile trail from Breckenridge Park to downtown.

I met many wonderful people at the Witte and discovered interesting connections between the Witte and the Smithsonian, especially in the field of paleontology and archaeology.  Dinosaurs once ruled south Texas, and Witte Museum Curator of Paleontology and Geology, Thomas Adams, Ph.D., is literally hot on their trail – uncovering dino tracks and other significant fossil remains.  Harry Shafer, Ph.D, Witte Museum Curator of Archeology, Professor Emeritus at Texas A&M University,  has been studying rock art along the lower Pecos River, among the most sophisticated finds in North America.

San Antonio's Chili Queens are alive and well (and widely appreciated) at the Witte Museum.

San Antonio’s Chili Queens are alive and well (and widely appreciated) at the Witte Museum.

The Smithsonian has many long-term interests in San Antonio.  The Smithsonian American Art Museum includes works by artists, Jesse Trevino and Mel Casas; Smithsonian Folkways documents the musical heritage of San Antonio, from legendary corrido singer Lydia Mendoza to Grammy Award winning Los Texmaniacs; and the Smithsonian Magazine recently paid tribute to San Antonio’s fabulous Chili Queens, 19th century food entrepreneurs who helped make the taco the world’s favorite meal.

The new South Texas Heritage Center at the Witte Museum -- a taste of more to come.

The new South Texas Heritage Center at the Witte Museum — a taste of more to come.

There’s a lot going on at the Witte on which to build our partnership and more to come when the museum completes Phase II of its grand expansion project in 2017.

Angelica Docog and Aaron Parks of the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, our other Affiliate in San Antonio, joined the festivities and then brought me back to see an amazing exhibit on Texas Quilts on display in their facility in Hemisphere Park.  We talked about several new exhibits they are planning to install including one on Sikh history and culture from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Angelica filled me in on the success of their Smithsonian Youth Access Grant, Young Historians/Living Histories and how it helped the Institute build bridges to San Antonio’s Korean community.

What would a Texas be without a long-horned steer?  This might be one of the longest long-horns.

What would a Texas be without a long-horned steer? This might be one of the longest long-horns.

One cannot visit San Antonio without feeling a sense of vibrancy – a growing city with a strong economy, a major convention and tourist destination, a proud history and a bright future.  How wonderful to see our Affiliate colleagues leading the charge.

Tomorrow, I get to announce another new Affiliate – Space Center Houston.  It’s a good week for lifting off!

October 4, 2014

Road Report: discoveries in Denver

We’ve all had this experience right? You have a favorite museum that you visit all the time. Then one day, you hear from staff about all the behind-the-scenes work they did to bring something amazing to the museum floor, and you gain a whole new perspective and appreciation of their work.

I had this delightful experience this week. Being from Colorado, I’ve visited the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS) many times with my family growing up. But I was fortunate to attend one day of the Mountain Plains Museum Association (MPMA) Conference in Aspen this week, and heard two staff from DMNS talk about two very different programs that revealed another dimension of their contributions to the community.

Kirk Johnson, former chief curator (and now director of the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian) gave the keynote talk at the MPMA Conference about their Snowmastodon Project, a massive and utterly unique discovery of Ice Age fossils at Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village in the Colorado Rockies.

National Museum of Natural History director Kirk Johnson, digging for mastodon bones in Colorado.

National Museum of Natural History director Kirk Johnson, digging for mastodon bones in Colorado.

In 2010, a bulldozer driver working on an expansion of the Reservoir uncovered bones of a juvenile mammoth. Years later, having tapped an army of volunteers including local school teachers from the Aspen area and world-renowned Ice Age scientists, the Museum recovered over 6000 bones from 50 different species from the site including Ice Age horses, a camel, mastodons of all ages, and a giant bison. There are no other comparable sites at this elevation (over 6000 feet), and the diversity of the mammals represented is extraordinary.

The fossils are now cleaned and preserved, and are in top-rate storage or on view for the benefit of scholars and the public. And the finishing touch? Just this week, the Museum installed a 19-foot bronze sculpture of a mastodon (which would have dwarfed a modern-day elephant by the way). Here’s a timelapse video of its installation.

Later in the afternoon, I sat in on an excellent session with Andréa Giron from the Museum’s Visitor Insights Department (and a Affiliations Visiting Professional alumna). Andréa discussed all the ways the Museum has researched its Latino audiences in particular, and the ways they are honing their programming to attract this important audience. Why? Because the Museum wants its visitation to mirror the demographics of its community (as we all do!), and can boast Latino visitation that is slightly higher than the national average as a result of their efforts. Andréa shared some great ideas such as:

Staff makes sure kids feel right at home at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Staff makes sure kids feel right at home at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

1) crowdsource translation of your materials so they actually make sense to your audience. Google Translate just doesn’t capture nuance!

2) Think about your family membership category. Latino audiences in particular tend to visit in multi-generational groups of 6 or more. DMNS created a Family Plus membership to respond.

3) Language can sometimes be a barrier. Andréa surveyed DMNS staff and found a range of Spanish-speakers, including security and facilities staff, who now wear buttons on the floor offering help to visitors in Spanish. (She also found unexpected speakers of Dutch and ASL experts as well!)

I am always inspired by the great work of our Affiliates, especially when I have the privilege to hear it first-hand from the colleagues doing it. Bravo DMNS! Can’t wait to bring my family back on my next visit to Colorado.

Jennifer Brundage is a National Outreach Manager in Smithsonian Affiliations.

September 29, 2014

let’s source the crowds

While it may seem like a contemporary term, many museums, including the Smithsonian, have been using crowdsourcing as a strategy for years.  At the Smithsonian, we’ve been at it since 1849, when the first Secretary, Joseph Henry, used 150 weather observers all over the U.S. to contribute data, an activity that led to the formation of the National Weather Service.

The Smithsonian still sources the power of our audiences today on topics ranging from tree leaves and gardens to immigration and stories from rural America.  We’d love to hear from you!  Please contribute your voice, or let your visitors know, about the projects below.  Do you have a crowdsourcing initiative you’d like to share?  Let us know in the comments.

SI Transcription Center– Crowdsourcing transcriptions of primary source documents https://transcription.si.edu/

Leafsnap – Crowdsourcing tree images for mobile app http://leafsnap.com/

worksgarden

crowdsourced image of kohlrabi growing in the garden of The Works, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Newark, Ohio.

Encyclopedia of Life – Crowdsourcing species-related media http://eol.org/info/contribute

Our American Journey (National Museum of American History) – Crowdsourcing oral histories of American experience of migration and immigration  http://my.si.edu/oaj/story

Community of Gardens (Smithsonian Gardens)- Learn from the ways that gardens and gardeners of all backgrounds have shaped America’s landscape.  https://communityofgardens.si.edu/

Agriculture Innovation and Heritage Archive (National Museum of American History) – Think about how transformations in American agriculture have affected you, your family, your community, and the environment.    http://americanhistory.si.edu/agheritage/how-to-participate

Stories from Main Street  (Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service)– Crowdsourcing stories about rural America  – http://www.storiesfrommainstreet.org/

Ask Smithsonian (Smithsonian Magazine) – Try to stump us with a question about anything.  Really, anything.  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/ask-smithsonian/ask-form/?no-ist

Will to Adorn (Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage) – Listen to and contribute your stories about the choices you make everyday when you dress for school, work, fun, or special occasions. http://www.festival.si.edu/2013/Will_to_Adorn/GetTheApp/

eMammal (National Museum of Natural History) – Work with researchers to document mammals using camera traps. http://emammal.wordpress.com/about/

Finally, here’s a look at some spectacular online exhibitions created by crowdsourcing:

from the crowdsourced exhibition, A Day in the Life of Asian Pacific America

from the crowdsourced exhibition, A Day in the Life of Asian Pacific America

A Day in the Life of Asian Pacific America (Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center) – The first crowdsourced gallery of the Asian Pacific American experience around the world as lived on one day.  http://smithsonianapa.org/life2014/

My Space Shuttle Memories (National Air and Space Museum) Did you ever see a space shuttle launch or land in person?   http://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/moving-beyond-earth/memories.cfm

Portraits of Planet Ocean (National Museum of Natural History) – Stunning photo gallery of the world’s magnificent oceans by oceanographers and enthusiasts.   https://www.flickr.com/groups/portraitsofplanetocean/

 

 

August 26, 2014

coming up in affiliateland in September 2014

Affiliates are “going back to school” with gusto this September!

VERMONT
Smithsonian Affiliations staff will participate in a ceremony with Senator Patrick Leahy to announce our new affiliation with the Sullivan Museum and History Center, the first Affiliate in Vermont, in Northfield, 9.2.

grizzly

new book by National Air and Space Museum educator

MAINE
The Abbe Museum welcomes Tim Grove, educator at the National Air and Space Museum, for a talk and signing of his new book A Grizzly in the Mail and Other Adventures in American History, in Bar Harbor, 9.4.

ALABAMA
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute hosts the Save Our African American Treasures program organized by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Birmingham, 9.6.

FLORIDA
Chef and expert on Native cuisine Richard Hetzler presents a lecture and cooking demonstration at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum in St. Augustine, 9.6.

The Museum of Arts and Sciences presents Septembers with the Smithsonian, which includes a public lecture by Craig Saffoe, Curator of Big Cats from the National Zoo, 9.20; and a concert and student workshops with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, in Daytona, 9.27.

The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum opens SITES Ramp It Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America in Clewiston, 9.13.

TEXAS
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science hosts a workshop on Creating Collections with Young Children led by educators from the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, in Dallas, 9.11-12.

George Jacob, Executive Director, Ellen Noël Art Museum (Odessa) will give a lecture on the meaning of WPA era murals as part of The Art of Tom Lea: Preserving Our National Heritage symposium hosted by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., 9.24.

visitors enjoy Ramp It Up

Ramp It Up exhibition coming to Florida

ARIZONA
The National Museum of American History collaborates with the Arizona Historical Society and the Arizona State Museum to present the Let’s Do History professional development program for teachers in Tucson, 9.20, 27.

IDAHO
The Idaho Museum of Natural History opens SITES I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story exhibition in Pocatello, 9.20.

PENNSYLVANIA
Renee Anderson, textile conservator at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, will spend a week at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, in dialogue with staff on conservation projects and future collaboration opportunities, in Carlisle, 9.22-26.

CALIFORNIA
The Riverside Metropolitan Museum presents Smithsonian Week in Riverside featuring talks by experts from the National Museum of the American Indian, 9.24-27.  The Museum also opens Cahuilla Continuum, an exhibition featuring three objects from the National Museum of the American Indian, in Riverside, 9.26

gems

curator Jeff Post talks gems in Illinois

NATIONWIDE
More than 75 Affiliates will participate in Smithsonian Museum Day Live!, offering free admission to their museums, 9.27. Find a list of participating Affiliates here.

ILLINOIS
The Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art hosts a talk by National Museum of Natural History curator Jeff Post on A Look Inside the Smithsonian’s Gem & Mineral Collection in Elmhurst, 9.28.

PANAMA
Smithsonian Affiliations staff will attend the opening ceremonies of the new BioMuseo when it opens to the public in Panama, 9.29.

Smithsonian Science How Online Resources

pobiner-webcast-smithsonian

Smithsonian physical anthropologist Dr. Briana Pobiner with the skull of a sabertooth during a Smithsonian Science How webcast. Live webcasts are offered every month during the school year on Thursdays at 11 and 2 PM eastern time. Smithsonian photo by Wei Qian.

Smithsonian Science How is back!  Following a successful partnership with six Smithsonian Affiliates earlier this year, the popular webcast has returned with new dates and new topics.  These free, interactive, TV-style webcast programs will introduce middle school students to core science concepts through the lens of Smithsonian research and experts, providing students with positive STEM role models and a connection to science in their lives.  Explore the topics in the schedule by presenting a webcast at your location, using the classroom activities, and connecting the discussion to your own collections.

A schedule of the programs and list of the topics that will be presented is available here.

If you are a staff member at a Smithsonian Affiliate who would like to offer the program, please email us at affiliations@si.edu to sign up and receive resources, including strategies to share this program on social media.  Affiliate partners will be asked for information about their audiences, numbers of attendees and which webcasts will be offered.

April 28, 2014

affiliates in the news

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.

Ohio History Connection (Columbus, Ohio)
Ohio Historical Society Changes Its Name To Ohio History Connection
Logan says the word “connection” also better explains how people can access Ohio history.  With more than 1.9 million artifacts in its collection, Logan says the Ohio History Connection is a national leader in changing how people can access history and believes the new name better reflects this trendsetting programming

University of Nebraska State Museum (Lincoln, NE)
Watch the Kirk Johnson’s public lecture at the Museum here!

All photos courtesy University of Nebraska State Museum.

All photos courtesy University of Nebraska State Museum.

Smithsonian director praises Nebraska’s treasure trove of fossils
“Ninety of the state’s 93 counties have supplied fossils to the world …,” Johnson, sant director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, told an audience in Lincoln on Wednesday. “You have a world resource here — not just a Nebraska resource.”

Smithsonian director to discuss Nebraska’s fossils at UNL
The lecture is partially connected to Morrill Hall’s recent affiliation with the Smithsonian Institute back in February. The Smithsonian Affiliations is a national outreach program which develops relationships with museums, educational and culture organizations to enrich communities with Smithsonian resources. The NU state museum joins 184 museums, educational and cultural organizations in its affiliation.

Museum Center at 5ive Points (Cleveland, TN)
Museum signs agreement to be Smithsonian affiliate
The Museum Center at Five Points has signed an agreement to become an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. Hassan Najjar, the museum’s executive director, said the partnership means the local museum may soon play host to nationally traveling artifacts and exhibits owned by the Smithsonian.

Photo credit: Museum of the Rockies

Photo credit: Museum of the Rockies

Museum of the Rockies (Bozeman, MT)
Tyrannosaurus Rex to embark on cross country journey
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District’s Wankel Tyrannosaurus Rex will soon travel from Montana, where it has resided for the past 66 million years, to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. The Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, Mont., home to the T.rex since it was excavated in 1993, will host a free, public sendoff April 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Smithsonian Museum to get a T. rex – via FedEx
Known as “the Nation’s T. rex,” the unmounted specimen is being trucked from the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman to Washington, via FedEx, where it will be unpacked April 15 and eventually serve as the centerpiece of a new National Fossil Hall, opening in 2019, according to the Washington Post.

65 million-year-old T Rex headed to nation’s capital for next 50 years
Big Mike outside the Museum of the Rockies is a creature many of us recognize. The T-Rex is actually a bronze replica of a fossil found in the 90’s which is about to head to a new home in Washington D.C.

Delicate dance with a dinosaur
In collaboration with the Museum of the Rockies, in Bozeman, Mont., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District entered an agreement to loan one of its two Tyrannosaurs Rex specimens to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History for 50 years.

Rare T.rex sets off from Montana on road trip bound for Smithsonian
The fossil of the 38-foot-long carnivore, found on federal lands in Montana in 1988, has played a starring role in scientific research at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman since its excavation by paleontologists led by curator Jack Horner.

 

#NationsTrex in crates when it arrived @NMNH on April 15. Photo credit: Smithsonian Affiliations.

#NationsTrex in crates when it arrived @NMNH on April 15. Photo credit: Smithsonian Affiliations.

Rare T.rex goes on a road trip in the US
The rare and nearly intact skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex that roamed the earth 65 million years ago set off from Montana last Friday on a cross-country road trip, its first, bound for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.

65-million-year-old T-Rex fossil arrives at DC museum
The tyrannosaurus rex was FedEx-ed to the Smithsonian in 16 different crates carefully carrying all of the 200 plus fragile bones for the road trip from the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. Estimated at about 65 million years old, the skeleton is nearly 85 percent intact.

T. rex gets new home in Smithsonian dinosaur hall
More than 100 years after dinosaurs were first displayed on the National Mall, T. rex — the king — is joining the Smithsonian collection after a 2,000-mile journey from Montana.

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