April 27, 2016

coming up in Affiliateland: May 2016

Washington, D.C.
The National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, 5.5.

Smithsonian Affiliations welcomes staff from Affiliate organizations at a reception celebrating our 20th Anniversary on the first day of the American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting, 5.26

Florida
Maria del Carmen Cossu, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service project manager, will serve as a juror at the Mayfaire Arts Festival at the Polk Museum of Art, 5.7.

The Mennello Museum of American Art opens Pop Art Prints, an exhibition of 37 items from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The installation includes works from the 1960s by Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, and others. The installation is part of a series that highlights objects from the collection that are rarely on public view, opening 5.6.

Missouri
Last chance to see Above and Beyond at the Saint Louis Science Center. The exhibition celebrates the power of innovation to make dreams take flight and features two artifacts from the National Air and Space Museum. The exhibition closes 5.8.

California, Michigan, Washington, Hawaii, Colorado
Four Affiliates– Arab American National Museum, Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, and History Colorado – and the National Museum of American History will connect via webcast to a live Youth Town Hall at the Japanese American National Museum for National Youth Summit: Japanese Incarceration in World War II, 5.17.

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Ohio
The Ohio History Connection will host a videoconference featuring Dr. Jeremy Kinney, curator at the National Air and Space Museum.  The videoconference will connect NASM with the Ohio History Connection and Stone Gardens Assisted Living Complex near Cleveland. Kinney will discuss the Enola Gay and its restoration while a curator from OHC will address the Ohio connections to the plane, 5.19.

Virginia
Last chance to see two of George Washington’s battle swords together for the first time in over 200 years. One sword is on loan to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens from the National Museum of American History. Exhibit closes 5.30.

clippings2Idaho
There’s still time to see Titanoboa: Monster Snake at the Idaho Museum of Natural History, an exhibition organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. On view through 6.12.

Affiliates in the news: May edition

Congrats to these Affiliates making news!  If you have a clipping that highlights a collaboration with the Smithsonian or with a fellow Affiliate, or a clipping that demonstrates leadership in education, innovation, and arts/culture/history/science you’d like to have considered for the Affiliate blog, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee

The musicians Terri Davis, left, and Bill Saxton at the opening of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Credit Yana Paskova for The New York Times The National Jazz

The musicians Terri Davis, left, and Bill Saxton at the opening of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Credit Yana Paskova for The New York Times

National Jazz Museum in Harlem (New York, NY)
National Jazz Museum in Harlem reopens in new location
On the very same day that the United States Postal Service held a ceremony in Newark, New Jersey, to celebrate the new Sarah Vaughn postage stamp, Harold Closter, Director of Smithsonian Affiliations, told a funny anecdote about his contribution to the history of jazz. Addressing the audience at the opening night of The National Jazz Museum in Harlem’s new location, Closter joked that his contribution to jazz history was the time he was tasked with carrying the train of “the Divine One’s” (as Vaughn was known) dress onstage once.

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem Finds a Permanent Home
The museum found its footing, in incremental steps, under the executive leadership of Loren Schoenberg. A veteran saxophonist, pianist, educator and historian, Mr. Schoenberg brought an air of authority to the museum, while strengthening its bonds with the jazz public and institutions like the Smithsonian.

Saint Louis Science Center (St. Louis, MO)
Saint Louis Science Center selected as Smithsonian Institution Affiliate
“We are very pleased to join the ranks of some very distinguished organizations and institutions across the country,” said Bert Vescolani, president and CEO of the Saint Louis Science Center. “Having the opportunity to share Smithsonian artifacts, including space capsules, aircraft and rare minerals with our visitors will help to spark interest and excitement in science and the important role it plays in our lives.”

Mid-America Science Museum (Hot Springs, AR)
Mid-America Science Museum wins prestigious national award
Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs has landed the Institute for Museum and Library Services National Medal for Community Service. The award stands out as only 10 museums and libraries around the country are awarded it each year.

Visitors at "The Art of Video Games" exhibition. Photo courtesy Frost Art Museum.

Visitors at “The Art of Video Games” exhibition. Photo courtesy Frost Art Museum.

Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum (Miami, FL)
Remember ‘Pac-Man’? Museum exhibit has fun with classic video games
From “Pitfall!” and “Space Invaders” to “Super Mario Brothers,” the collection celebrates the artistic and creative factors involved in creating the games’ virtual landscapes and moving images.

1960s Living Room at the Senator John Heinz History Center. (Photo: Rachellynn Schoen)

1960s Living Room at the Senator John Heinz History Center. (Photo: Rachellynn Schoen)

Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, PA)
Playing With the Past
There were many other surprises in this exhibit of nearly 500 favorites developed in partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society. For those of you who destroyed or failed to hold on to your childhood treasures, the 8,000 square-foot exhibit may well be worth the trip to Pittsburgh. Your head will be swiveling as Mr. Potato Head, Gumby, Barbie, and action figures from three decades vie for your attention.

National Inventors Hall of Fame
The Greatest Celebration Of American Innovation Inspiring The Future And Honoring The Past
The National Inventors Hall of Fame and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will host the Greatest Celebration of American Innovation May 4-5. The two-day event will include the Induction of 16 innovation trailblazers into the Hall of Fame [at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery] and the unveiling of the expanded National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum.

DuSable Museum of African American History (Chicago, IL)
DuSable Museum named as Smithsonian Institution affiliate
Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African American History has been granted affiliation status by the Smithsonian Institution. The distinction, announced Thursday, gives the museum access to Smithsonian artifacts and traveling exhibits. The DuSable is the second Chicago facility to receive Smithsonian Affiliate status, joining the Adler Planetarium.

April 18, 2016

YWCA Bristol TechGYRLS: Radio Stars at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum

Special thanks to Rene Rodgers, curator of exhibits and publications at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, Virginia, for this guest post.

As a new museum, this past September was the Birthplace of Country Music Museum‘s first time participating in Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day Live! So we were excited when a special Museum Day Live! event was planned for March 12, 2016. Having been open for a year and a half, we were ready to make something special of this special day.

Being held during Women’s History Month, this year’s Museum Day Live! was focused on encouraging all people – and particularly women and girls of color – to explore our nation’s museums and cultural institutions. We wanted to see new visitors come through our doors for this March event – and we did! We saw around 340 visitors bearing their free admission ticket, many of whom had never been to the museum before, along with several dedicated volunteers and members.

TechGyrls1More importantly, we wanted to create a learning opportunity at the museum for underserved girls within our community. Therefore, in keeping with this year’s theme, we partnered with the YWCA Bristol TechGYRLS, a local afterschool program based on a STEM-focused curriculum and geared towards supporting girls aged 9—15 who would otherwise have limited access to and experience with technology.

We decided that a fun focus for this partnership would be helping the TechGYRLS to create a special radio program for WBCM, our in-museum working radio station. To prepare for their radio debut, the girls toured the museum in early February, exploring the exhibits to find topics to cover in their radio program. They also got the chance to record a “radio drop,” or teaser, to promote the show. With very little rehearsal, the girls nailed their radio drop – they were complete naturals!

Using the ideas they had gathered from their tour, the TechGYRLS then worked directly with museum and radio staff to develop their script and create a lively complementary playlist of songs from Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited. They also got the chance to learn more about how a radio station works and how to put together a radio program from our radio staff.

For their Museum Day Live! radio program, we decided on three main spoken segments:

  • Telling radio listeners about the YWCA Bristol TechGYRLS program and how being a TechGYRL will impact their future
  • Talking about which exhibits they enjoyed during their tour of the museum
  • Picking one subject in the museum that particularly interested them and doing a feature on it

After a bit of tweaking and some rehearsal time, the TechGYRLS came back to the museum a few days before Museum Day Live! to pre-record their show. Their interviews were filled with energy and enthusiasm. They described how their visit to the museum showed them how important the Bristol Sessions were in American music history and that the old-time music playing in our exhibits made them want to dance! And they shared the many ways the YWCA Bristol TechGYRLS program impacts their lives, with one student saying that it “teaches you to include everyone no matter how different…and that just because you aren’t a man, doesn’t mean you can’t grow up and be what you want to be.” Wisdom out of the mouths of babes!

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When March 12 finally arrived, we were excited – and so were the girls. YWCA Bristol brought several of them to the museum an hour or so before their radio broadcast, giving them plenty of time to explore the museum further and take a peek at our new special exhibit “Made in Tennessee: Manufacturing Milestones.” A few parents came along too, and we heard that a couple of families were ready to listen together at home to the show on WBCM. While the show was broadcasting on the radio, we streamed it into the museum’s performance theater, inviting our museum visitors to come in and listen as part of their Museum Day Live! experience.

Seeing the girls faces as they listened to themselves on the radio, seeing them really realize that listeners throughout Bristol (and possibly across the world!) were hearing their ideas and thoughts, was amazing. The TechGYRLS shared their time and energy with us, they gave voice to their lives and experiences, and the result was one of the most fulfilling and proudest moments we’ve had at the museum so far.

TechGyrls2Tonja Leonard, Director of TechGYRLS, emphasized how important it is to provide the girls with experiences and opportunities to see technology as part of their everyday lives. She noted that this experience brought huge value to the TechGYRLS program – it not only provided a wonderful learning experience for the girls but also helped to broaden their perspectives and further their educational values, giving them an opportunity that was not possible through the school system. Tonja added, “this opportunity certainly empowered our TechGYRLS.”

We also got to hear directly from the girls about their experience at the museum and on the radio (along with a lovely thank you card, signed by all of them!):

  • Holly:  “It was really amazing to know that the songs I picked were going to be on the radio. I really enjoyed learning the history behind the music and all about the radio and how the broadcast is done.”
  • Michaela:  “It was really fun to have the experience to get to work with the technology in the radio booth. I learned a lot from the museum and learning about classic country music.”
  • Allie:  “As a future engineer, it’s important to learn about technology in other fields.  While at the museum I learned that technology-based equipment is a fun necessity.”
  • Jayda:  “I liked learning about the Carter Family and the Carter scratch [Maybelle Carter’s well-known and influential guitar-playing technique]. The karaoke booth [Sing-Along Station in the Making Music area of the exhibits] was also very fun because we got to sing different types of music and learn about the instruments that were used.”

Hearing the impact this partnership – inspired by Museum Day Live! – had on the TechGYRLS has been incredibly moving. But the things we gained from this experience were just as positive: the use of our radio station as a wonderful community learning tool; the ability to share our museum with young girls and get their feedback in a direct and meaningful manner; the possibilities for further partnerships and outreach programs in the future; and the way a program like this, written and produced by local youth, took our museum and its mission further into our community – to name just a few.

March’s Museum Day Live! was a huge success for us – and an amazing experience. Most importantly, it had as significant an impact on us as it did on the TechGYRLS, and for that we couldn’t be more grateful.

TechGyrls4

All photographs courtesy Birthplace of Country Music Museum.

March 21, 2016

Get to know one of our Affiliate partners: the Conner House, the heart of Conner Prairie

Our diverse network of Smithsonian Affiliates helps connect local stories to our shared national history. With more than 200 Affiliates in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Panama, each has a special story to share about what makes them unique to our network. Here’s one of those stories. Special thanks to Duane Brodt, Director of Public Relations at Conner Prairie for this guest post.

 

ConnerHouse

Two hundred years ago, a fur trapper named William Conner made his living in the woods of Hamilton County. He lived among the Native Americans on the banks of the White River, fought in the War of 1812 and played an instrumental role in the transformation of Indiana from a territory to statehood.

He spent the next 15 years transforming himself from a trapper and trader to a gentleman and statesman who lived in a red brick home at the top of a hill – the Conner House, the heart of Conner Prairie.

Over the years, the house bustled with business and politics. It was the meeting place for county commissioners, home to the Circuit Court and served as the post office in the early days of the county. Visitors traveled from far away to discuss legislation around the dinner table and strike business deals in the best room. It was a cultural hub where big ideas were stretched and pulled as leaders wrestled with how to best guide our state though its infancy.

On Thursday, to celebrate Indiana’s bicentennial, a renovated and reimagined Conner Homestead will open and the story of William Conner will be transformed – from a domestic story to one that tells the larger tale of Indiana’s transformation from territory to statehood.

“The Bicentennial and all of the focus on early Indiana history got us thinking about the transformation of the Conner House experience to a story that looks at the Conner family and its transformation,” said Director of Exhibits Brian Mancuso. “We have designed interactive video and audio pieces to help people experience and explore in different ways.”

Rather than entering the home through the back of the house through the kitchen, visitors will now enter the home from the actual front of the home, as those traveling the White River and traversing the prairie would have entered Conner’s home in the 1800s.

Exploring the rooms of the Conner House will now allow visitors to immerse themselves in interactive, technological exhibits that explore the questions of the day and how the land was settled, surveyed and sold. Young visitors can contrast and compare their chores, meals and clothes with those of the Conner family and friends. Interactive exhibits will encourage visitors to ask themselves how Conner and his family should be remembered in history. Exhibits will also allow visitors to choose what qualities were necessary for someone to be a successful pioneer in Indiana.

The Conner House now more strongly complements William Conner’s story and shows how the family that lived here – and the people who came in and out of the front door – helped shape our state’s history.

The restoration of the Conner Homestead at Conner Prairie is designated an official Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project.

Spanning 800 wooded acres in central Indiana, Conner Prairie welcomes nearly 390,000 visitors of all ages annually. As Indiana’s first Smithsonian Affiliate, Conner Prairie offers various outdoor, historically themed destinations and indoor experiential learning spaces that combine history and art with science, technology, engineering and math to offer an authentic look into history that shapes society today.

Is the Smithsonian in your neighborhood?

March 1, 2016

“lets do history” with Oklahoma History Center

Special thanks to Sarah Dumas, Director of Education at the Oklahoma History Center, for this guest post.

ok_hist_1On February 11 educators from the Oklahoma History Center (OHC) were invited by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to participate in its Let’s Do History Tour in Norman, Oklahoma. OHC Education Department staff provided a one-hour presentation about various programs offered by the Oklahoma History Center. The presentation included a detailed discussion of our traveling trunk program, with an opportunity for several unique learning experiences. Teachers explored and interacted with four different trunks. They also participated in two hands-on activities facilitated by our staff.

The first activity required teachers to investigate history by analyzing an artifact, and the second activity was to assemble a pioneer family and pack their wagon for a trip to Oklahoma Territory. It was certainly a fun afternoon for us, and it seemed the teachers enjoyed themselves as well. Perhaps the best part of the afternoon was when we returned to the museum and checked our email. Waiting in our inboxes were dozens of email requests for use of OHC resources, including the traveling trunks. In fact, of the fifty teachers who attended the workshop, almost half already made plans to participate in one of our programs or utilize our resources.

What a wonderful end to an exciting day with some fantastic teachers and the great folks at the National Museum of American History.

Interested in participating in a Let’s Do History Tour? Contact your National Outreach Manager for more information.

The Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference is October 17-20, 2016. Join us in Washington, D.C.! 

ok_hist_2

February 22, 2016

Affiliates in the news: March edition

Congrats to these Affiliates making news!  If you have a clipping that highlights a collaboration with the Smithsonian or with a fellow Affiliate, or a clipping that demonstrates leadership in education, innovation, and arts/culture/history/science you’d like to have considered for the Affiliate blog, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee.

A Boa constrictor skull is scaled up to the same size as Titanoboa and compared to a human skeleton using 3-D tech in the IVL. Render courtesy of Jesse Pruitt.

A Boa constrictor skull is scaled up to the same size as Titanoboa and compared to a human skeleton using 3-D tech in the IVL. Render courtesy of Jesse Pruitt.

Idaho Museum of Natural History (Pocatello, ID)
Idaho Museum of Natural History uses 3-D technology to bring Titanoboa monster snake to life
“Having the opportunity for something I made to go along with something the Smithsonian created is personally very cool,” Schlader said. “Not to mention the fact that the University of Florida made the scans of the fossil available so we can print it and actually hold a copy of a piece of this snake is just amazing.”

The Museum of Flight (Seattle, WA) and Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor (Ford Island, HI)
12 Museums for the Aviation Enthusiast

Hagley Museum and Library (Wilmington, DE)
Hagley Now Has World’s Largest Private Collection of Patent Models
The Rothschild Patent Model Collection of 4,101 one-of-a-kind models — going alphabetically from an adjustable pillow sham to a wrestling toy — builds upon 849 patent models already at Hagley and the early innovations and patents from the DuPont Company.

Space Center Houston (Houston, TX)
Space Center Houston Drives Greater Houston Economy With More Jobs
“The museum plays a vital role in the region by bringing tourism dollars and stimulating the workforce,” said the center’s President and CEO Richard E. Allen Jr. “Globally, it is inspiring creativity and innovation in people from all over the world. With our hands-on educational programs, we’re exciting young minds and inspiring them to think about a possible future career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Photo courtesy Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum.

Photo courtesy Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum.

Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum (Miami, FL)
Remember ‘Pac-Man’? Museum exhibit has fun with classic video games
Video games have scored their way into one South Florida art museum. Atari, PlayStation and other home systems are the main players of “The Art of Video Games” exhibit at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum Florida International University in Miami.

‘Art of Video Games’ on exhibit now at the Frost Art Museum
One take-away Rodriguez hopes students visiting the exhibit will go home with is that the museum is a fun, exciting place that asks a question: what is the role of art in your life?

FROST ART MUSEUM PRESENTS THE ULTIMATE MAN-CAVE EXPERIENCE: “THE ART OF VIDEO GAMES” EXHIBITION
On March 16, 2012, “The Art of Video Games” opened at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. The exhibition is Melissinos’ homage to the world of Marios and Sonics. For the past three years, “The Art of Video Games” has been on a cross-country adventure visiting various museums. The final stop of the tour is Miami’s Frost Art Museum.

The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU opens “The Art of Video Games”
The Art of Video Games is one of the first major exhibitions to explore the 40-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, with a focus on striking graphics, creative storytelling and player interactivity.

Smithsonian’s Video Game Exhibit Opens in Miami
Organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the exhibit and revolves around the 40-year evolution of video games, and their art expression.

The Art of Video Games” National Tour’s Final Stop in Miami
By teaming up with Florida International University’s Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum for The Art of Video Games exhibition as Presenting Sponsors, we have another great opportunity to be active in the community that is at the heart of Alienware,” said Frank Azor, General Manager of Alienware. “It was almost 20 years ago that Alienware started in Miami and even though we’ve evolved to a global community of gamers it’s great to have this incredible exhibit conclude in the South Florida community that’s been so instrumental in our success.”

A view of Above and Beyond, the new exhibit at the Saint Louis Science Center. Photo by Oscar Williams.

A view of Above and Beyond, the new exhibit at the Saint Louis Science Center. Photo by Oscar Williams.

Saint Louis Science Center (Saint Louis, MO)
Saint Louis Science Center unveils new exhibit
 “Above and Beyond” is produced by Evergreen Exhibitions in association with Boeing, in collaboration with NASA and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and in educational collaboration with The Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Antique Automobile Club of America (Hershey, PA)
Pioneers in African American Automotive History at the AACA Museum
While learning the history, visitors can take the opportunity to assemble their own paper traffic signals, patented by Garrett Morgan, courtesy of the Western Reserve Historical Society.

Challenger Space Center Arizona (Peoria)
Challenger disaster: 30 years later
Inspired by and named for the lost shuttle, the Challenger Space Center in Peoria opened in July 2000. Affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution and the Challenger Learning Centers, it was the first stand-alone facility not only in Arizona, but in the entire Southwest.

 

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.

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