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August 25, 2011

SITES’ corner

By Ed Liskey, Senior Scheduling & Exhibitor Relations Coordinator, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service

We’d like to share some of the great experiences Affiliate museums have had hosting SITES exhibitions this past summer.  When will you get your SITES on? 

Native Words, Native Warriors at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum

The Wisconsin Maritime Museum (Manitowoc, WI) is hosting SITES’ Native Words, Native Warriors, from July 23- October 2, 2011. It’s the remarkable story of Indian soldiers from more than a dozen tribes who used their Native languages in the service of the U.S. military.

Museum Educator Wendy Lutzke reports that the museum has made  interesting historical connections between the exhibition and its World War II submarine, the USS Cobia.  The Cobia is the largest artifact in the museum’s collection, and is moored right outside the gallery.  “While researching the history of the Code Talkers in the Pacific, intern Nick Oswald found that both the Code Talkers and the crew of the USS Cobia had a direct impact on the outcome of the battle of Iwo Jima.  Code Talkers revealed deceptive Japanese communications that mimicked those sent by the Allies, while the crew of the USS Cobia destroyed two Japanese vessels, one of which was carrying tanks intended for Iwo Jima.” 

Native Words, Native Warriors at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum

In September, the museum will feature Oneida Nation historian Loretta Metoxen, to speak on the Oneida’s contribution to the Code Talker Program.  A medal recognizing the Oneida individuals involved in the program will be struck by the U.S. Mint later this fall. 

The Charlotte Museum of History (Charlotte, NC) hosted SITES’ Becoming American:  Teenagers & Immigration exhibition April 23 – July 17, 2011, and visitors loved every minute of it.  Photographer Barbara Beirne’s images capture first-generation immigrants and children of immigrants, revealing a diverse array of teenage responses to the immigrant experience.

Becoming American installation at The Charlotte Museum of History

 Exhibits Manager Lee Goodan reported that “the Museum actively works to engage the diverse community of the Charlotte/Mecklenburg region, home to many immigrants from other areas of the world and transplants from around the country. The stories of Becoming American reflect the diverse make-up of the area, and provide compelling examples of finding identity with migration. As we explore the theme of home within our institution, this exhibition illustrated the challenges and opportunities of finding and remembering ‘home.’ The focus on teenagers provided us the opportunity to create a successful program for high school students. Based on visitor feedback, the content resonated with our visitors who identified with the stories or found the exhibition insightful on a topic with which they were not personally familiar.”

Becoming American high school program at The Charlotte Museum of History

 Ms. Goodan continued:  “It was an excellent exhibition- compelling, thought-provoking, and directly presented. The primary strength of the exhibition was that it seemed to be very effective at evoking responses- either intellectual or emotional- from visitors. Based on comments left in the exhibition response book, we received more comments of a personal or substantive nature than usual. Some included political or social commentary, some shared personal experience with immigration, and some simply noted that they had been touched or affected by the stories.”

Farmers, Warriors, Builders a the South Florida Museum

The South Florida Museum and Parker Manatee Aquarium (Bradenton, FL) is currently hosting Farmers, Warriors, Builders:  The Hidden Life of Ants, on view through October 9, 2011.  More than 140 guests got buggy with entomology family fun on Saturday, August 6 at a “Family Night” program at the museum.  Hands-on crafts, a cartoon movie about the critters, and a scavenger hunt through the museum including the Farmers, Warriors, Builders exhibition all made the event a huge hit.

The museum team is thrilled about another exhibition-related event with Dr. Mark Moffett, the world-renowned ant expert, award-winning photographer, and Smithsonian Research Associate whose work is featured in the exhibition.  On September 29, he will present “Adventures Among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions” based on his newest book of the same title. “We are thrilled to bring such a witty, experienced, renowned scientist and real-life adventurer to our community,” said Brynne Anne Besio, Executive Director. “This fascinating exhibition and the chance to meet Dr. Moffett represent such a unique opportunity for our members and the general public to learn from a modern-day explorer.”

Please visit our website to learn more about all of our exhibitions that will help you get your SITES on.

The Affiliate flag in the Becoming American installation at the Charlotte Museum of History

 

 

 

May 24, 2011

NMAI colleague couriers artifacts cross-country to Affiliates

Thanks to Raj Solanki of the National Museum of the American Indian for the guest blog post.  

The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) received a loan request from Smithsonian Affiliate Riverside Metropolitan Museum in California for their exhibition Beyond Craft: American Indian Women Artists. Curated by Dr. Brenda Focht, this exhibition includes four contemporary Native artists Anita Fields, Pat Courtney Gold, Teri Greeves, and Margaret Wood.

Preparing to install the quilt at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum

What was so compelling about the exhibit, is the relationship that the Museum and Dr. Focht developed with each artist. Each artist was a co-curator to the exhibition and had a hand in developing content and programming. Because of this, NMAI eagerly said yes to the loan request of a Margaret Wood work titled Ribbon Shirt Quilt (NMAI 26/5800).

In March, I couriered the quilt and oversaw the installation at Riverside Museum. As a courier, I get to “see the behind the scenes” before a show goes up, and I was impressed by the objects chosen for the exhibit. Some objects came directly from the artists and private collectors. Other works were lent by other Smithsonian Affiliates – the Heard Museum in Phoenix, and Michigan State University Museum in East Lansing. I wished I could have stayed longer to see their “Meet the Artist” Program, which took place in April. However, the objects spoke for themselves.

Each artist has a way of conveying a story in her medium. The Riverside Museum allowed space for each artist to tell her story whether it was family history or Native identity in today’s context. Displayed prominently is Margaret Wood’s Ribbon Shirt Quilt, which was inspired by the meaning of a ribbon shirt as a symbol of ‘Indianness’. Explained on her website, Margaret writes “The origins of the ribbon shirts harkens to the fringed leather shirts of the Plains Indians…When woven cloth and ribbons became available as trade items, Plains women used the new materials to create facsimiles of the original leather shirts. There are some tribal styles and characteristics and a lot of variety and originality displayed in the ribbon shirts being made. They are worn by men, women, babies, elders and teenagers.”

Margaret Wood's Ribbon Shirt Quilt, installed.

The Riverside Metropolitan Museum is in the heart of Riverside, CA and is part of the city’s effort to revitalize the area. The façade of the building is under renovation. But don’t let the scaffolding fool you. It is not closed! This little building offers some great exhibits on natural history of the area, history on the Native population as well as the community that settled in the area and its continuing growth.

The Riverside Museum was a recipient of the 2010 National Museum of the American Indian’s Indigenous Contemporary Arts Program.

Look for Raj at the 2011 Affiliations’ National Conference Resource Fair on Tuesday afternoon, June 14.  The first five Affiliate staff members to mention this blog post win a prize!

August 2, 2010

August at an Affiliate near you!

It’s August! Here are a few things you can see at a Smithsonian Affiliate in your neighborhood this month:

Alabama
Let Your Motto Be Resistance, a Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) exhibition, opens at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham) on August 28.

Anacostia's (then Uniontown) Birney Public School children lined up with a teacher behind the Kennebec Ice horse-drawn wagon as the ice man shows them large chunk of ice suspended by tongs. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston, Courtesy of the Library of Congress, circa 1899

District of Columbia
The Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum’s exhibition East of the River is on view at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. until January 2011.

Georgia
You can see another SITES exhibition, The Working White House: Two Centuries of Traditions and Memories, at The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History (Kennesaw) until August 29.

Iowa
The new expansion at The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium (Dubuque) features artifacts from the National Museum of Natural History in its new immersive galleries.

Kentucky
Opening this month at the Headley-Whitney Museum (Lexington) is The Horse in Decorative Arts, including artifacts from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Museum of American History, on view through December 2010.

A visitor to the "Native Words, Native Warriors" exhibit at Montana Historical Society. Photo courtesy Montana Office of Governor Brian Schweitzer

Montana
Montana Historical Society (Helena)- Native Words, Native Warriors.  This exhibition organized in collaboration with the National Museum of the American Indian will travel to Native American reservations across Montana through December.

Nebraska
Lasting Light: 125 Years of Grand Canyon Photography is on view until September 2010 at the Durham Museum (Omaha), organized for travel by SITES.

Ohio
The Archives of the History of American Psychology (Akron) will celebrate the opening of their new building on August 28.

Toroweap overlook in morning light. Part of the exhibition "Lasting Light: 125 Years of Grand Canyon Photography" at the Durham Museum. Photo by Jack Dykinga

Pennsylvania
The Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh) welcomes Smithsonian conservator Don Williams for their Hidden Treasures event on August 29.

Texas
Twenty black and white photographs from the National Air and Space Museum are featured in the exhibition Dreams of Flight: A Journey through Air and Space at The Women’s Museum: An Institute for the Future (Dallas) through October 2010.

Wyoming
Last chance to see Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Warriors: Photographs by Gertrude Käsebier at Buffalo Bill Historical Center (Cody). On view until August 8, the exhibition includes photographs from the Photographic History Collection in the National Museum of American History.

Click here to find a Smithsonian Affiliate in your neighborhood!

May 28, 2010

Smithsonian artifacts in your neighborhood

Did you know you don’t have to be in Washington, D.C. to see Smithsonian artifacts?  Right now there are about 1,166 Smithsonian artifacts on loan to Affiliate museums across the country.  Here’s a few things you could see this weekend! 

Railroad scale models at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum.

A collection of railroad scale models at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum (Baltimore, MD) from the National Museum of American History. They are considered by many to be the finest examples of railroad scale models ever produced. Originally part of “The Railroad Hall” at NMAH, they remained a part the regular attractions until 2001 when it finally closed after 37 years. 

The Peoria Falcon at Lakeview Museum of Arts & Sciences

The Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences (Peoria, IL) has the “Peoria Falcon” on loan from the National Museum of Natural History. It’s a beautifully crafted sheet of copper in the stylized shape of a falcon from the Mississippian period. It was excavated near Peoria in the nineteenth century. 

The largest Smithsonian object —the Saturn V Rocket— is on loan to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center (Huntsville, AL). The Saturn V successfully propelled the Apollo II crew to the moon’s surface on July 20, 1969. It was designed and built in Huntsville and consisted of more than 3 million parts, making up 700,000 components.

"All That Glitters" at San Diego Natural History Museum.

Balboa Park in San Diego, CA, is home to two Affiliates— the San Diego Air & Space Museum (SDASM) and the San Diego Natural History Museum (SDNHM). You can see gems and jewels from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in SDNHM’s exhibition “All That Glitters.” And check out the Apollo 9 command module, Gumdrop, on view at SDASM on loan from the National Air & Space Museum. 

Ten Thousand Springs Pavillion at Irving Arts Center

The Ten Thousand Springs Pavillion, an intricately carved, one-fifth scale model of classical Chinese architecture which stands within Beijing’s Forbidden City, is on view at the Irving Arts Center (Irving, TX).
 

El Kabong at The Air Zoo

The National Air and Space Museum loaned the “El Kabong I” capsule from NASA’s Project Gemini to The Air Zoo (Portage, MI). It was used for drop tests involving the Para-Sail landing system, which was never adopted for actual Gemini flights. 

NMAI artifacts on view at Historic Arkansas Museum.

 Historic Arkansas Museum(Little Rock, AR) has about 50 Native American artifacts on view from the National Museum of the American Indian in their “We Walk in Two Worlds” exhibition.

 

 

Find a Smithsonian Affiliate in your neighborhood!

 

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