January 28, 2016

Road Report: Smithsonian Dazzles in New Mexico

The beauty of the “Land of Enchantment” began gradually as the plane started its relatively smooth descent over the Sandia Mountains into Albuquerque, home of two Smithsonian Affiliates and the nature of my visit. As I drove to my first destination of the day-National Museum of Nuclear Science & History-I understood why the Sandia Mountains got its name as the reddish hue of the coming sunset came into view. (Sandia means watermelon.)

I arrived at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History to find Museum Director, Jim Walther, and Deputy Director, Greg Shuman, working tirelessly painting an exhibition space for the upcoming show “Art of the Reactor.” Jim extended me enough time to show some new collection additions, including a Delorean, which fit nicely in the “Pop Culture” gallery and explained how he has spent the past few days fielding media inquiries regarding the “hydrogen bomb” and its potential repercussions.

Chris highlights the Apollo Capsule (NASM) and details the story behind the lettering on the capsule.

Chris highlights the Apollo Capsule (NASM) and details the story behind the lettering on the capsule.

Friday, I woke up early to begin my three hour drive through southwestern New Mexico to Alamogordo, site of the New Mexico Museum of Space History and home to over 30 artifacts from the National Air and Space Museum (NASM). I found Chris Orwoll, Division Director, at the Museum Support Center, appraising a huge collection donation from California. Chris showed me the lunar rover from NASM and explained the details for the restoration project, scheduled to be completed in 2017. Chris took me to the main museum complex, located in the foothills of the Lincoln National Forest and provides a magnificent view of the Tularosa Basin, home of Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range. Chris highlights the Apollo Capsule (NASM) and details the story behind the lettering on the capsule.

The culmination of my visit ended with a series of events at one of our newest Affiliates-New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science for the opening of the “Post Diamond Tiara” exhibit. A year in the making, the Post Diamond Tiara, on loan from the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), was unveiled by new Executive Director, Margaret (Margie) Marino to the “oohs” and “aahs” of the excited crowd of volunteers, donors and general public. The events were capped with the formal presentation of Certificate of Affiliation. The Post Diamond Tiara excitement will continue on March 15, when NMNH curator, Jeffery Post, will present a lecture on this and other artifacts of the NMNH gem collection.

My flight home allowed me to reflect on my stay in New Mexico and as with so many other trips, I understood and appreciated all the hard work, energy and enthusiasm the Affiliate staff members put into maintaining and showcasing their partnership with the Smithsonian. The reward was seen on the faces of the visitors seeing a thousand glistening diamonds for the first time and an appreciative smile came across my face.

So if you find yourself in New Mexico or any of the other 44 states where Affiliates reside, I encourage you to stop in and put a smile on your face.

January 6, 2014

starting the new year off right! Affiliate kudos for January 2014


The PPG Industries Foundation announced a $5,000 donation to the Frontiers of Flight Museum (Dallas, TX) to support aviation and space-flight education programs for Pre-K through 10th-grade students.

The Putnam Museum (Davenport, IA) has received a $300,000 grant to develop a Science and Technology Innovation Center. The Community Attraction and Tourism (CAT) grant from Vision Iowa will support the $2.2 million STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning center that will provide hands-on learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture (Baltimore, MD) received a $128,000 grant award through The Star-Spangled 200 (SS200) Grant Program in the commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812 for maximum benefit to Marylanders. The funding will go to support the exhibition “For Whom it Stands: The Flag and the American People” highlighting Grace Wisher’s contribution to the original Star-Spangled Banner and investigates the broader history and representation of the United States flag as an icon of our nation and its people

The Schiele Museum of Natural History (Gastonia, NC) received a $1,000 Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibitions Service Smithsonian Community Grant, sponsored by MetLife Foundation.  The award will be used to fund speakers’ fees for “Bugapolooza,” the museum’s annual celebration of the contributions made by insects to the natural world. Programs will include hands-on activities, interaction with entomologists, museum displays, and presentations by insect researchers in order to increase interest in entomology, as well as an awareness of the value of biological research programs. All programming relate to the themes of Farmers, Warriors, Builders: The Hidden Life of Ants.

 A citizen science initiative led by the Adler Planetarium (Chicago, IL) and Oxford University won $1.8 million from Google’s Global Impact Awards. Zooniverse, a nonprofit collaboration between the two institutions that has already had close to 1 million volunteer scientists participating, links ongoing research to willing volunteers who, in most cases, comb through data that requires human interpretation. The 18 current projects include searching for lightcurve anomalies in telescopic images to help discover distant planets and classifying animals caught in Serengeti National Park camera traps. Zooniverse will use the money to rebuild its platform to make it easier for more science projects to take part. The money will also help the Adler extend the project to schools and youth and community groups locally. 

Historic Bethlehem Partnership  (Bethlehem, PA) will hire and train costumed docents to act as historic ambassadors to Bethlehem’s Moravian history, thanks to a $45,000 allocation in 2014 by the Northampton County Council.

Awards and Recognition

The New England Museum Association (NEMA) elected Susan Funk, executive vice president of Mystic Seaport (Mystic, CT), as president of its board of directors.

The American Alliance of Museums has announced that eight museums were newly accredited including  an Affiliate, the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History (Albuquerque, NM).

Assistant Superintendent Peter Aucella of the Lowell National Historical Park (Lowell, MA) received the
Department of the Interior’s Superior Service Award in recognition of his 23-year career with the National Park Service and his stewardship of the Lowell Summer Music Series. 

The Silo Cooking School at Hunt Hill Farm (New Milford, CT) was awarded the honor of 2013’s Best Cooking Classes by Connecticut Magazine. 


The Executive Board of Trustees of the International Museum of Art & Science has appointed Danella Hughes as its new Interim Executive Director.




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