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July 10, 2013

A unique experience: a peek into a two-week visiting professional residency at the smithsonian

Special thanks for this guest post to Jessica Crossman, Experiential Learning Department Program Coordinator at the San Diego Museum of Man, a Smithsonian Affiliate in San Diego, California. Jessica spent two weeks in April 2013 at the Smithsonian.

This year I had the honor of being selected to participate in the Smithsonian Affiliations Visiting Professionals Program.  My goal while in Washington, D.C., was to learn about how best to create hands-on/interactive exhibits that effectively integrated educational material and to study the use of technology in these types of exhibits.  The museum where I work, the San Diego Museum of Man, is redoing the hands-on part of our Ancient Egypt exhibit.  Because of this, those of us working on the exhibit wanted to explore different ways we could approach the idea of interactivity in an exhibit.  I spent time at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), the National Zoo, and the Smithsonian Latino Center.  At each of these places I learned how these Smithsonian institutions approached hands-on/interactive exhibits in their own unique way.

Forensic Anthropology Lab

In the Forensic Anthropology Lab at the National Museum of Natural History.

My first week in DC was hosted by NMNH.  The members of the exhibits department were kind enough to meet with me, let me attend some of their meetings, and brain storm ideas with me about our exhibit at the Museum of Man.  Coming from the Education Department at my own institution, I gained a whole new perspective on what it takes to make an exhibit while learning great logistical ideas and questions to bring back to the Museum of Man, such as how to think about being able to make our exhibit easily adaptable for future changes and how to think about our goals regarding exhibit interactivity.  Members of the education department met with me to talk about our education programs and gave me tours of their education spaces in the museum including the Discovery Room, the Q?rius Lab, and the Forensic Anthropology Lab.  It was wonderful to see the exhibits from their educational point of view and to hear what their education goals were in the creation of these spaces.  One of the most important ideas that I got out this week was the idea of putting the visitor in the role of the “scientist” both in the wording of text panels and in the execution of interactive elements, such as providing tools (microscopes, magnifying glasses, etc.) for the children to use to make scientific observations in the Discovery Room.  This approach helped the team at the Museum of Man reform how we wanted to approach our own exhibit.

My second week I spent most of time at NMAI, with some time spent at the Zoo and the Latino Center.  At NMAI both the exhibits team and the education team gave me tours of their highly hands-on exhibit for kids called imagiNATIONS, which is designed to show children the innovations and inventions that different Native American Nations have created in order to meet their own specific needs.  While learning about this space I was told that people stay and learn when they feel safe and smart.  This is something that was taken into account when the NMAI team created this space.  While this idea was a simple one it was one of the most important of my trip because once I shared it with the Museum of Man exhibits team it helped us rethink how we wanted to physically design our space so that our visitors would have more of a sense of comfort and would stay longer to learn.

ImagiNATIONS

At ImagiNATIONS education space in the National Museum of the American Indian.

My time at the Zoo was focused in learning about their exhibit development process and in getting a tour of their new elephant exhibit.  It was wonderful to see an approach to technology as a means of visitor participation in their exhibit in the form of a photo booth.  It was fun, effective, and even left visitors with a message of conservation on the photo strips that took home with them.  This low tech use of technology was in contrast with the use of technology that I saw at the Latino Center.  While at the Latino Center I was given demonstrations of immersive gaming experiences that put students at the site of an archaeology dig, of Augmented Reality at use in exhibits, and of the Latino Center’s digital collections.  It was truly amazing to see what possibilities high tech, digital interactives might hold for our visitors.

Along with all of these wonderful learning experiences I met some truly talent and kind people that I hope to keep in touch with.  And of course this trip provided the Museum of Man some new ideas for our hands-on exhibit space.  There was even talk about possible future collaborations between the education department at NMNH and the Museum of Man as well as the Latino Center and the Museum of Man.  I’m very grateful to have been given the opportunity to grow both professionally and personally through this wonderful opportunity.

August 24, 2012

Kudos Affiliates! September 2012

As summer heats up, so too do Affiliate accomplishments!

The Michigan State University Museum (East Lansing, Michigan) received a new grant from the Asian Cultural Council, New York City, to establish a partnership between the Michigan State University Museum and Yunnan Nationalities Museum, in Kunming, China. The $12,000 grant is aimed at creating new resources online that can be used to access Chinese folklife and ethnographic collections by scholars, museums and the public.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati, Ohio) will receive a $1.8 million grant over three years as part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s America Healing program. The three-year grant will be used for programs to increase student and public awareness and understanding about the history of racial oppression in this country.

The GAR Foundation has awarded a $30,000 grant to the Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, Ohio), for educational programming at Hale Farm & Village.

Three Affiliates received Smithsonian Community Grants program sponsored by MetLife Foundation as part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibitions Services (SITES):

  • Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio, Texas) received $5,000 to fund programming that fosters self-identification and pride for dual heritage African-Native Texans. The grant will support honoraria for several scholars, craft and educational materials, and the marketing and advertising of events related to the themes of IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas.
  • San Diego Museum of Man (San Diego, California) was awarded $3,750 to fund the honoraria of Native American skate industry professionals who will participate in a panel discussion. The grant will also support the marketing of programming related to the themes of Ramp it Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America.
  • Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum (McMinnville, Oregon) will receive $2,160 to fund the busing of economically disadvantaged and minority youth in the regional Portland area to view Black Wings: An American Dream of Flight.

A technology upgrade for Ellen Noel Art Museum (Odessa, Texas) is the result of a Permian Basin Area Foundation $5,000 grant. This technology upgrade will help support the museum’s existing website and social media sites.

American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) announced the winners of their 2012 Leadership in History Awards Winners including the following Affiliates:

  • Arizona State Museum (Tucson, Arizona) for the exhibit Many Mexicos: Vistas de la Frontera
  • Conner Prairie Interactive History Park (Fishers, Indiana) for the exhibit 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana.
  • Montana Historical Society (Bozeman, Montana) and Montana Office of Public Instruction Indian Education for All Divisions for Best Practices in Museum Education: Museums and Schools as Co-Educators.
  • North Carolina Museum of History (Raleigh, North Carolina) for the exhibit The Story of North Carolina.
  • Ohio Historical Society (Columbus, Ohio) for the exhibit Controversy: Pieces You Don’t Normally See; for the Ohio as America Online 4th Grade Textbook; and for the Ohio History Service Corps-AmeriCorps Program.

July 24, 2012

Kudos Affiliates! July-August 2012

As summer heats up, so too do Affiliate accomplishments!

The Michigan State University Museum (East Lansing, Michigan) received a new grant from the Asian Cultural Council, New York City, to establish a partnership between the Michigan State University Museum and Yunnan Nationalities Museum, in Kunming, China. The $12,000 grant is aimed at creating new resources online that can be used to access Chinese folklife and ethnographic collections by scholars, museums and the public.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati, Ohio) will receive a $1.8 million grant over three years as part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s America Healing program. The three-year grant will be used for programs to increase student and public awareness and understanding about the history of racial oppression in this country.

The Long Island Museum (Stony Brook, New York) has received a grant of $286,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The highly competitive grant, awarded to only a few museums nationwide, will complete the revitalization of the Carriage Museum with two new exhibition galleries.

The GAR Foundation has awarded a $30,000 grant to the Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, Ohio), for educational programming at Hale Farm & Village.

Three Affiliates received Smithsonian Community Grants program sponsored by MetLife Foundation as part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibitions Services (SITES):

  • Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio, Texas) received $5,000 to fund programming that fosters self-identification and pride for dual heritage African-Native Texans. The grant will support honoraria for several scholars, craft and educational materials, and the marketing and advertising of events related to the themes of IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas.
  • San Diego Museum of Man (San Diego, California) was awarded $3,750 to fund the honoraria of Native American skate industry professionals who will participate in a panel discussion. The grant will also support the marketing of programming related to the themes of Ramp it Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America.
  • Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum (McMinnville, Oregon) will receive $2,160 to fund the busing of economically disadvantaged and minority youth in the regional Portland area to view Black Wings: An American Dream of Flight.

A technology upgrade for Ellen Noel Art Museum (Odessa, Texas) is the result of a Permian Basin Area Foundation $5,000 grant. This technology upgrade will help support the museum’s existing website and social media sites.

American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) announced the winners of their 2012 Leadership in History Awards Winners including the following Affiliates:

  • Arizona State Museum (Tucson, Arizona) for the exhibit Many Mexicos: Vistas de la Frontera
  • Conner Prairie Interactive History Park (Fishers, Indiana) for the exhibit 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana.
  • Montana Historical Society (Bozeman, Montana) and Montana Office of Public Instruction Indian Education for All Divisions for Best Practices in Museum Education: Museums and Schools as Co-Educators.
  • North Carolina Museum of History (Raleigh, North Carolina) for the exhibit The Story of North Carolina.
  • Ohio Historical Society (Columbus, Ohio) for the exhibit Controversy: Pieces You Don’t Normally See; for the Ohio as America Online 4th Grade Textbook; and for the Ohio History Service Corps-AmeriCorps Program.

May 22, 2012

coming up in affiliateland in june 2012

CALIFORNIA
The San Diego Museum of Man will be hosting a reception for the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies during the International Society for Technology in Education in San Diego, 6.25.

MICHIGAN
The Michigan State University Museum will be represented in the Community and Culture Program of the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C., 6.27-7.8.

Following a week of training in June in Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian Latino Young Ambassadors will be interning for a month at the following Affiliate host sites:  California Science Center, Museum of Latin American Art, Chabot Space and Science Center, Miami Science Museum, Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, Ft. Worth Museum of Science and History, International Museum of Art and Science, and The Museum of Flight, 6.24-8.3.

March 26, 2012

Coming up in Affiliateland in April 2012

Spring has sprung in Affiliateland!

WASHINGTON
The Museum of Flight will host Dr. Sharon Shaffer, Director of the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, to present a training seminar in Seattle, 4.1. 

FLORIDA
The Orange County Regional History Center opens SITES’ Beyond Baseball: The Life of Roberto Clemente, in Orlando, 4.7. 

MASSACHUSETTS
National Portrait Gallery Senior Historian Dr. Sidney Hart will present a lecture on the Art of the War of 1812 at the USS Constitution Museum in Boston, 4.11.

TEXAS
The Frontiers of Flight Museum celebrates the completion of the restoration project of the V-173 “Flying Pancake” aircraft, on loan from the National Museum of Air and Space, in Dallas, 4.16

NEW YORK
SI Gardens’ Cynthia Brown will present a lecture on Gardens in American History at The Long Island Museum of American Art in Stony Brook, 4.22.

CALIFORNIA
The San Diego Museum of Man opens SITES’ Ramp It Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America in San Diego, 4.28.

December 21, 2011

kudos! december 2011 – january 2012

Congratulations Affiliates on ending the year so strong!

Two Affiliates received SITES’ Smithsonian Community Grants, supported by MetLife Foundation:

        The Orange County Regional History Center (Orlando, Florida) received $5,000 to fund honoraria, travel, materials and marketing for three programs related to the themes of Beyond Baseball: The Life of Roberto Clemente.   

        The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture (Baltimore, Maryland) received $3,310 to fund a panel, “Clemente in Context/Clemente en Contexto,” to provide museum visitors with some historical and cultural context about Afro-Latino populations in the Caribbean and in the United States. All programming relate to the themes of Beyond Baseball: The Life of Roberto Clemente and IndiVisible: African-Natives Lives in the Americas.

 Chabot Space and Science Center (Oakland, California) received $200,000 to fund the Redwoods overnight environmental education center from the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council which promotes programs and projects to bring young people in touch with the environment. 

The Center for Jewish History (New York, New York), announce the expansion of its international fellowship program to include senior scholars, early career scholars and emerging artists and writers through a new five-year, $750,000 grant from The Vivian G. Prins Foundation. The grant will support fellowships for those who seek permanent teaching and research positions in North America.

Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) received a $5 million gift from the estate of the late William S. Dietrich II to turn a vacant building into an artifacts storage facility and conservation center. The Center also received a $2 million grant from UPMC to support educational programs and operations at the museum, where the library and archives will be renamed for Thomas and Katherine Detre.

Three Affiliates received Art Works grant awards from the
National Endowment for the Arts:

     Michigan State University Museum (East Lansing, Michigan) will receive a $40,000 grant to support the 2012 Great Lakes Folk Festival. In collaboration with the City of East Lansing, the university will produce a festival that showcases the traditional music, dance, foodways, and other cultural expressions of the nation’s Upper Midwest using an innovative approach, highlighting the cultural sustainability and adaptive reuse (recycling) inherent in traditional culture in conjunction with modern technology (a solar powered stage).

     Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art (Biloxi, Mississippi) will receive $34,000 to support the exhibition, George Edgar Ohr: Apostle of Individuality. Designed to be installed in the Knight Gallery, the exhibition will include works by Mississippi ceramic artist George Ohr.

     Whatcom Museum (Bellingham, Washington) will receive $34,000 to support the exhibition, Vanishing Ice: Alpine and Polar Landscapes in Art, 1775-2012. The exhibition will examine the artistic legacy of the planet’s frozen frontiers — glaciers, icebergs, and fields of ice– now jeopardized by climate change through the presentation of 75 works.

Science Museum Oklahoma (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) received a $1 million donation from Love’s Travel Stops to help kick off a capital campaign and $30 million renovation for the museum entrance and the addition of a permanent exhibit aimed at introducing young children to science.

Putnam Museum and IMAX Theatre (Davenport, Iowa) received $5,000 award from the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend to support the Putnam Power Mission video production. 

Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, Massachusetts) will receive a $235,000 grant from the state’s Cultural Facilities Fund to fund repairs, improvements, and expansions. 

The Coca-Cola Foundation awarded $50,000 to the North Carolina Museum of History (Raleigh, North Carolina) for the development and implementation of the initiative “Educational Outreach Programs for North Carolina Students.”

Two Affiliates were recipients of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) 2011 Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives awards:

     Center for Jewish History (New York, New York) received $229,600 to fund Illuminating Hidden Collections at the Center for Jewish History.

     San Diego Museum of Man (San Diego, California) received $115,200 to fund Capturing History: Cataloging the San Diego Museum of Man’s Photographic Collection.

 

 

 

 

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