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February 11, 2014

Young Historians, Living Histories- Today’s Stop: Oklahoma City, OK!

Special thanks to Paula Lee, Smithsonian Affiliations intern, for this guest post. This is the first of a five-part blog series she is writing as part of the Young Historians, Living Histories (YHLH) collaboration with the Asian Pacific American Center and our Affiliate network. 

Asian Pacific American youth representing the Young Historians, Living HIstory after completing a workshop

Asian Pacific American youth representing the Young Historians, Living History after completing a workshop

Early this August, I had an extraordinary opportunity to join Smithsonian Affiliations as an intern directly assisting with the Young Historians, Living Histories grant. After a few weeks of researching the project, I spoke with Leah Craig, Curator of Education at the Oklahoma History Center, an Affiliate in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma History Center is one of nine Affiliate museums selected to receive the YHLH grant funded by the Smithsonian’s Youth Access Grant program. Additional Affiliates include Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (Seattle, WA), Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio, TX), Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, OH), Pacific Aviation Museum (Honolulu, HI), Sonoma County Museum (Santa Rosa, CA), Greensboro Historical Museum (Greensboro, NC), Riverside Metropolitan Museum (Riverside, CA), and Historic Arkansas Museum (Little Rock, AR).

This program is an educational initiative designed to engage underserved youth in Asian Pacific American communities by incorporating the use of digital media to produce oral histories. Being an Asian American myself, I was particularly thrilled at the chance to be involved in a project that hit so close to home. The Affiliates have collaborated with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (APAC) and the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) to provide essential curriculum guidelines that will be used to train educators to implement youth workshops. Participating Affiliates have recruited Asian Pacific American students to attend workshops at the museums. Middle and high school students will learn a variety of 21st-century skills, methods of community outreach, and digital storytelling to explore, contextualize, and deepen their understanding of Asian Pacific American history and culture.

Director Leah Craig leading one of many workshops on Asian American history

Curator Leah Craig leading one of many workshops on Asian American history

While the Affiliates were busy recruiting students, Craig had already begun to lead a team of 20 gifted and talented students from Norman High School through active learning workshops. The workshops covered essential editing, filming, interviewing and a lesson in Asian Pacific American history with the help of teachers Margaret Wadleigh, LaRadius Allen, and Moving Image Archivist Corey Ayers. Students that participated in the workshop came from diverse cultural backgrounds and were placed in groups that encouraged them to share their stories and ideas as they began their transformation into historians seeking stories within the Asian Pacific American community.  At only 1.9 percent, Oklahoma’s Asian American population isn’t large but according to the U.S. Census Bureau it includes a variety of Chinese, Korean, Pilipino, Burmese, and Hmong communities with significant Vietnamese and growing Indian communities. The program has enticed the young historians to become curious and research the immigration stories that attracted Asian Americans’ very first settlement into Oklahoma such as the Land Run in 1889.

Shoulder to Shoulder-- Oklahoman students eager to learn the film making processes of oral histries in a workshop led by Moving Image Archivist, Corey Ayers

Shoulder to Shoulder– Oklahoman students eager to learn the film making processes of oral histries in a workshop led by Moving Image Archivist, Corey Ayers

Craig boasts that “by conducting the oral histories students are helping us collect the history of our community from people with whom we may not have any other way to collect their stories.” Students were challenged to reveal the hidden struggles and accomplishments that Asian Pacific Americans in their own families/personal network had endured while en route, discovering a part of them that was never truly appreciated. Wadleigh, one of the two mentoring teachers, observed that the oral history element of this project engaged the students in a way that activated their “emotional” skills, skills that helped them discover powerful stories that couldn’t be told through any textbook.   Look forward to future posts under the YHLH Series as we begin to unravel the unique stories hidden across the nation “oh the places we’ll go” when we’re looking!

August 9, 2013

“Hey Mom, guess what I did today? I moved a totem pole!”

Special thanks to Summer Olsen, 2013 Smithsonian Affiliations Intern Partner for writing this guest post. Summer spent 10 weeks at the Smithsonian this summer. She returns to California this fall to complete the second half of her intern partnership. Thank you, Summer!

summerolsenDuring my summer 2013 internship through the Smithsonian Affiliations Intern Partnership Program I assisted the Office of the Registrar at the Cultural Resources Center (CRC) of the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) from June 3rd to August 9th. Inventory Specialist Heather Farley and Assistant Registrar for Acquisitions Margaret Cintron supervised me.  During my internship in Registration I learned about the daily processing, tracking, and inventory of objects in collections, researched Plains beadwork with NMAI curator Emil Her Many Horses, and experienced the organization of other Smithsonian branches via intern tours and events. The skills and knowledge I developed during my internship will be applied to a comprehensive project involving an inventory and assessment of the Plains beadwork collections at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum (a Smithsonian Affiliate) and the museum at Sherman Indian High School in Riverside, California.

My time at the CRC has flown by and I have developed skills and gained knowledge by completing a variety of tasks: documenting the un-accessioned collections, processing new acquisitions, processing outgoing loans and objects returned from being loaned, working in collections, assisting in the de-installation of an exhibit, and office tasks like scanning and filing catalog cards and accession lot folders.

My main project this summer was to work with two other registration interns documenting the un-accessioned collections. To prepare for our work in registration work we received object-handling training from conservation staff members and training from registration staff to operate work assistance vehicles (WAV) and pallet jacks. We photographed, recorded measurements, and re-housed disassociated fragments from their parent object and un-accessioned material. After photographing the objects we edited the photo files and embedded them with metadata. Then we made custom storage mounts, and shelved the objects in their appropriate locations in collections. I was also taught how to enter some cataloging information and object dimensions into EMU.

We learned to use the barcode system in collections. When working on the documentation project we assigned a barcode to each item. New acquisitions were also assigned barcodes. In addition we re-associated a group of fragments using the barcode system to locate their parent objects and conducted an inventory by scanning the barcodes of un-accessioned works on paper.

olsen3I learned the procedure for processing new acquisitions into the collection.  We unpacked crates, took reference photos, and made/wrote condition reports and lot forms. For cloth objects we made tags with NMAI catalog numbers and sewed them down. The procedure was much the same for the outgoing objects for the Anishinabe exhibit at the George Gustav Heye Center in New York City. We checked the condition of each object and compared it to previous condition and conservation reports. When objects came back from a loan I helped Museum Registration Specialist for Loans, Rajshree Solanki, unpack objects and updated their condition paperwork. We also wrote condition paperwork for peace medals that were de-installed at the NMAI Mall Museum in Washington, D.C.

During the second part of my internship I met with NMAI curator Emil Her Many Horses who guided me through NMAI’s beadwork collections. I learned about the progression of beading (from quillwork to early beading to the present day), different cultural styles of beadwork, and beading techniques. The information he imparted will be key to completing my project this fall at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum and Sherman Indian High School.

This internship also gave me access to knowledge via tours of other Smithsonian Museums and events sponsored by the Office of Fellowships and Internships. I was able to see collections storage practices at National Museum of Natural History, the Hirshhorn, and National Air and Space Museum and toured the Folklife festival with curators from the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The “From Here to Career”, an event hosted by OFI, gave me the opportunity to talk to Smithsonian museum professionals.

My internship at NMAI has been an incredible experience.  I will be able to apply all the skills I learned while working at NMAI to my project at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum and Sherman Indian High School.  I have been able to see objects I have only ever read about, interact with fantastic people, been given advice that will impact the rest of my academic career, and formed professional relationships. Highlights of my experience have been: Moving a totem pole, documenting strange animal specimens, getting to see collections while re-associating fragments, and learning about beadwork with Emil Her Many Horses.

Thank you Smithsonian Affiliations for this amazing opportunity. I have enjoyed every minute of it and am gearing up to complete the next part of the internship in Riverside.

congressreceptn

Summer receiving a Certificate of Award at the Congressional Reception during the 2013 Affiliations National Conference. Left to right: Smithsonian Secretary, G. Wayne Clough; Summer Olsen, Smithsonian Regent, France A. Córdova; Smithsonian Assistant Secretary for Education and Access, Claudine Brown; Riverside Metropolitan Museum Curator of Collections & Exhibitions, Brenda Focht; Riverside Metropolitan Museum Curator of Collections & Historic Structures, Lynn Voorheis; and Smithsonian Affiliations Director, Harold Closter.

March 25, 2013

coming up in affiliateland in April 2013

 

Kiki Smith, Banshee Pearls, 1991, 12 prints, lithograph with aluminum leaf additions on handmade Japanese paper. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Lichtenberg Family Foundation, © 1991 Kiki Smith/ ULAE

Kiki Smith, Banshee Pearls, 1991, 12 prints, lithograph with aluminum leaf additions on handmade Japanese paper. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Lichtenberg Family Foundation, © 1991 Kiki Smith/ ULAE

PUERTO RICO
Educators from the National Postal Museum lead workshops on designing educational materials for exhibitions and for different audiences at the Museo y Centro de Estudios Humanísticos in Gurabo, 4.5-6.

FLORIDA
The Naples Museum of Art opens the Multiplicity exhibition, featuring 83 works from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collections (including the one to the right!) in Naples, 4.6.

MARYLAND
Rebecca Trautmann, National Museum of the American Indian curator, will serve as a juror for the upcoming Elements in Balance exhibition at Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in Solomon, 4.8.

NORTH CAROLINA
The North Carolina Museum of History will be loaning objects to the Smithsonian American Art Museum/Renwick Gallery for the Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color exhibition, opening in Washington, D.C. on 4.12.

CALIFORNIA
Staff from the National Museum of Natural History will present workshops and lectures sponsored by the Riverside Metropolitan Museum as part of Smithsonian Week in Riverside, 4.23-25.

TEXAS
The City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department will announce their affiliation in Austin, 4.24.

February 25, 2013

affiliates in the news! February-March 2013

Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion

Richard Parker, left, Bill Ferguson, right, reconstruct pieces made of red sandalwood to create The Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion on display at the International Museum of Art & Science. photo by Joel Martinez/jmartinez@themontor.com

International Museum of Art and Science (McAllen, Texas)
IMAS hosting traveling exhibit channeling 600-year-old Chinese pavilion 

Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Heinz History Center exhibit examines ’1968: The Year that Rocked America’ 

Riverside Metropolitan Museum (Riverside, Calif.)
RIVERSIDE: Smithsonian scientist to visit museum 

Carolinas Aviation Museum (Charlotte, N.C.)
NC museum will receive Smithsonian designation
Carolinas Aviation Museum joins forces with Smithsonian 

Smithsonian scientist Rusty Russell shows off a specimen he collected in the desert at the 2009 Citizen Science Week. During the week from Feb. 12 through 16, school groups will get the opportunity to work with Russell at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum.

Smithsonian scientist Rusty Russell shows off a specimen he collected in the desert at the 2009 Citizen Science Week. During the week from Feb. 12 through 16, school groups will get the opportunity to work with Russell at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum.

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian American Pacific Experience (Seattle, Wash.)
Wing Luke now partner with park service
Seattle’s Wing Luke museum now part of Nat’l Park Service
Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum now part of National Park Service

Naples Museum of Art (Naples, Fla.)
Hirshhorn ‘Mouse House’ now at home in Naples
Naples Museum of Art pleased to make a permanent home for ‘The Mouse House’

 Agua Caliente Cultural Museum (Palm Springs, Calif.)
Monday Newsmaker: Promoting understanding of Native American culture

September 27, 2012

SI-Q: What tells stories of life and death but never speaks a word? #SeriouslyAmazing

By Cara Seitchek, Writer, Smithsonian Affiliations. Part of our Seriously Amazing Affiliates blog series.

Russell in the field with other Citizen Scientists. Photo courtesy Danielle Leland, riverside Metropolitan Museum.

“The only single unambiguous personal record of a scientist’s research is in his field book. They can contain stories of life and death that are fascinating,” said Rusty Russell, collections manager for the U.S. National Herbarium located in the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH).

On most days, Russell is surrounded by the quiet of the Herbarium and many shelves of dried plant specimens that record centuries of expeditions around the world. In his 30+ years working for the Department of Botany, Russell has brought order and innovation to these collections – creating a bar coding system, scanning specimens into a digital library, and placing botanists’ field books online.

For eight years, Russell has been bringing his encyclopedic knowledge of plants to Smithsonian Affiliate Riverside Metropolitan Museum (RMM), creating citizen science programs that take residents into the field and help them build their own collections of indigenous plants.

“Our citizen science weeks came about in an interesting way,” said James Bryant, RMM curator and a former student of Russell’s. “I discovered some specimens in our collections that had been collected by Edmund Jaeger, who also collected for the Smithsonian. When I contacted Rusty, he pulled the NMNH specimens and we started talking about the history of the mountains in this area and how they had been affected by climate change.”

Russell works in the field to bring Citizen Science Week to Riverside, California. Photo courtesy Danielle Leland, Riverside Metropolitan Museum.

The challenge of exploring an area that had not been studied for 70 years intrigued both men and soon, Russell was leading a team to explore the Santa Rosa – San Jacinto Mountains slopes that Jaeger had studied. This initial field trip grew into a larger program that brings California residents into the field to make their own observations and field notes. Every spring, Russell travels back to Riverside to lead a week-long citizen science program.

In one program, the week focused on wildflowers and how floral areas transition to the nearby desert. Activities included short hikes, making pressed flowers, workshops, and lectures, all designed to increase citizen awareness and appreciation of the region’s environments.

Russell’s visits to Riverside have increased the community’s awareness of the importance of their environment. The City of Riverside is now planning a city-wide citizen science project for its open spaces and was just awarded a California State Parks grant for $780,000 to build a nature center that will be the base for even more citizen science projects. “Rusty’s prominence in the field and our relationship with the Smithsonian contributed to Riverside receiving the grant,” said Bryant. “Citizen Science Week has been a catalyst for many spinoffs.”

These spinoffs include an invitation for Bryant and Russell to speak at a conference at the California Academy of Sciences, which is exploring how to create a state-wide citizen science program. The University of California, Riverside provides scholars and experts to serve as the research arm of the citizen science efforts, while nearby Redlands company ESRI has worked with RMM to create a geographic information system software for digital field notes, which is used by a wide network of volunteers who document plant changes and responses to climate change. “Our citizen scientists use this to collect and provide this data to scientists like Rusty,” said Bryant. “It’s sparked a revival of interest in this area.”

Russell in the classroom in Riverside, California. Photo courtesy Danielle Leland, Riverside Metropolitan Museum.

Both Russell and Bryant agree that RMM’s active relationship with the Smithsonian has benefits for both institutions. “Riverside is also helping the Smithsonian,” said Bryant. “We have helped the Smithsonian establish a presence in our community, and as a result we are providing the Institution new research data, programs and new members.”

The nice thing about this project is that it brings smaller places together with the Smithsonian,” said Russell. “Many people may not have the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C., but through this kind of outreach, the Smithsonian plays an ongoing role in this community.”

August 25, 2011

coming up in affiliateland in september 2011

Fall is underway in Affiliateland!

ARIZONA:
The Challenger Space Center opens the National Air & Space Museum’s In Plane View: Abstractions of Flight in Peoria, 9/2.

PENNSYLVANIA:
Senator John Heinz History Center displays four artifacts from the National Museum of American History in its Stars & Stripes: An American Story exhibition in Pittsburgh, 9/10.

TEXAS:
Bill Fitzhugh, archeologist from the National Museum of Natural History, will give a public lecture on Genghis Khan at the Irving Arts Center in Irving, 9/10.

FLORIDA:
The National Museum of Natural History’s Dr. Valerie Paul gives a talk at the Museum of Arts & Sciences in Daytona Beach, 9/10.

The South Florida Museum, Tampa Bay History Center, and the Frost Art Museum will be represented at the Florida Association of Museums for an Affiliations Session in Sarasota, 9/20.

The Museum of Arts & Sciences will host the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra in Daytona Beach, 9/23.

CALIFORNIA:
The Riverside Metropolitan Museum will host Smithsonian Citizen Science Week in Riverside, 9/20.

NATIONWIDE:
More than 80 Affiliates take part in Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day, 9/24.

 

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!

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