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April 17, 2014

adventures with affiliations!

Special thanks for this guest post to Rachel Brummond. Rachel interned with the Affiliations office this spring and helped us build our e-marketing for the Smithsonian Affiliations Membership Program. Rachel is wrapping up her Junior year at Luther College in Iowa with a Major in Management/Political Science. Many, many thanks for everything Rachel!

My Dream: Living in DC with the Smithsonian in one hand and the Capital in the other!

My Dream: Living in DC with the Smithsonian in one hand and the Capital in the other!

I have dreamt of being a part of the Smithsonian Institution since I was a little girl on her first vacation to Washington, D.C. After that, when others wanted to be princesses, ballerinas, firefighters and policemen, I wanted to grow up to be THE curator of THE Smithsonian Museum. Little did I know that the Smithsonian is actually a network of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoo, and nine research facilities, each with their own curators, directors, membership staff, and programs.  I also had no idea that the Smithsonian is a living organism that includes a nationwide partnership program that consists of more than 180 Affiliates in more than 40 states, Puerto Rico and Panama. That first trip marked the beginning of a remarkable journey to where I am today—an intern learning from the same organization that I ooh’d and ahh’d about as a child.

This spring I had the incredible opportunity to join the D.C. intern-pack as a membership communications intern at Smithsonian Affiliations, leading to some Seriously Amazing opportunities through the Smithsonian and specifically with the Affiliations office. I have visited countless museums, had private tours, attended share-fairs, and been thoroughly immersed in the culture and collaboration that the Smithsonian embodies. The Affiliations office has brought me a much better understanding of the nationwide partnerships that we facilitate, and of course has led to an extensive growth of my photo collection that documents my life in the nation’s capital!

Two of my favorite museums: The National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum!

Two of my favorite museums: The National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum!

Being an intern for the Smithsonian has been such a learning experience! Smithsonian curators and researchers have important and serious work to do, so it’s always fun to see a lighter side of their jobs from time to time. For instance, every April Fool’s day the National Museum of American History hosts a “conference on stuff” with a lighthearted theme for all Smithsonian staff and visitors. Harold Closter, director of our very own Affiliations office, emceed this year’s salt-themed event and had some very “punny” quips for the audience. It was so fun to see the Smithsonian staff operating in an off-the-cuff, fun, but still well-researched way! I was also encouraged to explore the Smithsonian in-between projects, so I took “museum Fridays” and went to discover as many Smithsonian museums as possible while I was here. I saw 12 of the 15 museums that are currently open and in D.C.—a considerable success that appeals to the learning buff in me!

One of the most memorable experiences was the arrival of The Nation’s T.Rex. To me, this loan really shows the amazing partnerships that the Smithsonian creates with Affiliates across the country. The Wankel T.rex was discovered in Montana and lived at the Museum of the Rockies, a fabulous Smithsonian Affiliate, for the past two decades. It was so fun to participate in the social media plan by crafting tweets to talk about the dino’s arrival and about its 50-year vacation to the National Museum of Natural History. What a fantastic way to outline the network and partnership program that the Affiliations office facilitates. I am so proud to have been a part of an Institution so committed to the increase and diffusion of knowledge—even if their audience doesn’t always live in the DC area.

That’s what the Affiliations office is all about, bringing the Smithsonian to people around the country in order to create access to the incredible collection of knowledge, artifacts, and amazing culture that embodies the Institution. It’s been an adventure to say the least, and I am so grateful that the Affiliations office was willing to have me as a part of their team!

Here it is! The Wankel T.Rex was one of my favorite projects. Special shout out to Museum of the Rockies!

Here it is! The Wankel T.Rex was one of my favorite projects. Special shout out to Museum of the Rockies!

April 1, 2014

affiliates in the news!

Congrats to these Affiliates making news! Each month we highlight Affiliate-Smithsonian and Affiliate-Affiliate collaborations making headlines.  If you have a clipping highlighting a collaboration with the Smithsonian or with a fellow Affiliate you’d like to have considered for the Affiliate blog, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee.

National World War II Museum (New Orleans, Louisiana)
World War II Museum’s exhibit shows Japanese Americans behind barbed wire and in combat
For “From Barbed Wire to Battlefields,” Guise said the museum has borrowed items from the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of World War II in Boston and private collections.

 Dorothy's Ruby Red Slippers from the "Wizard of Oz."Credit Smithsonian Institution

Dorothy’s Ruby Red Slippers from the “Wizard of Oz.” One of the iconic artifacts in Dr. Kurin’s new book. Credit Smithsonian Institution

Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Smithsonian expert to discuss local artifacts at Heinz History Center
Mr. Kurin estimated that about a dozen of the objects covered in his history have connections to Western Pennsylvania.

A History of America in 101 Objects and Pittsburgh’s Contributions
In his book, History of America in 101 Objects, author and Smithsonian curator Dr. Richard Kurin chronicles and pinpoints these national treasures by focusing on key objects in the vast collection. Here are some of Kurin’s favorite objects related to the Pittsburgh region:

Frost Museum of Science (Miami, Florida)
Frost Museum’s new chief scientist talks about innovation
Eldredge “Biff” Bermingham recently arrived in Miami from Panama to head up science operations at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. Bermingham was director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama City. He spoke to the Business Journal about his transition and how he met the Frosts, who donated $35 million to build the new South Florida museum.

Schiele Museum of Natural History (Gastonia, North Carolina)
Get antsy at Schiele Museum
All creatures big and small can be seen at The Schiele Museum of Natural History in Gastonia. A traveling Smithsonian exhibit of super-sized ant photographs gives visitors an up-close view of the world of ants.

Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art (Elmhurst, Illinois)
Lizzardo Museum Showcases Smithsonian Gem Collection in Special Exhibit
As a Smithsonian affiliate, the Lizzadro Museum is able to co-curate special exhibits from the Smithsonian collections. The Modern Designer Jewelry exhibit is on loan from the gem vault of the National Museum of Natural History. Russell Feather, the Smithsonian’s gem curator, and Dorothy Asher, the museum director at the Lizzadro, worked together to create this exhibit.

Affiliations Director Harold Closter takes his first #MonsterSnake selfie at the opening of Titanoboa in Nebraska.

Affiliations Director Harold Closter tweets his first #MonsterSnake selfie at the opening of Titanoboa in Nebraska.

University of Nebraska State Museum (Lincoln, Nebraska)
Smithsonian Snake
The Smithsonian is a very prestigious name to many people who may not be familiar with our own museum, and may not realize that they have a “Smithsonian-style” museum right here in Lincoln. This is the result of investments by Nebraskans since we were founded over 140 years ago. I think having the Smithsonian name associated with our museum will help our Friends group to offer Smithsonian Affiliate memberships that will not only raise the museum’s visibility, but will be a great source of pride for Nebraskans that they have the Smithsonian affiliation right here in Lincoln.

Titanoboa takes over Morrill Hall
If you have a fear of snakes, the latest exhibit at the University of Nebraska State Museum in Morrill Hall might make your skin crawl. The exhibit doesn’t feature a replica of what most people would consider a “normal snake.” Rather, it features a realistic, full-scale replica of Titanoboa, the world’s largest snake…

Museum of the Rockies (Bozeman, Montana)
T-Rex being sent off to the Smithsonian
“This is a remarkable moment for all of Montana.” said Sheldon McKamey, Executive Director of Museum of the Rockies. “The Wankel T. Rex will become the most viewed T.rex skeleton in the world, and that’s something everyone in the state can be proud of.”

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March 4, 2014

Young Historians, Living Histories- Today’s Stop: Honolulu, HI!

Special thanks to Paula Lee, Smithsonian Affiliations intern, for this guest post. This is the third 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.

pa.2As we travel west to hear from our Affiliates at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor (Honolulu, HI) we take flight almost literally, with those who once navigated overseas when aerial travel was a rare and exciting introduction to history. Shauna Tonkin, Director of Education at the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, connects us with Curtis Joe, immediate nephew of Chinese-American aviator and stunt pilot, Tom Gunn and Pan Am Japanese-American flight attendants, Mae Takahashi and Aileen Sodetani.

Tonkin partnered with Chris Facuri, Digital Media Teacher at Aliamanu Middle School, enabling the oral histories collected and edited throughout the school year to be incorporated into students’ curriculum. Participating students in the class took a field trip to visit the museum to meet Joe, Sodetani and Takahashi, where the entire group received a historical tour before sitting down for interviews. The two flight attendants live locally in Honolulu while Joe flew out from San Francisco to be a part of this project. All were very appreciative and realized the value of sharing the experiences that they’ve endured with younger generations. In response, the interactions with the pioneers made the experiences and stories come alive for the students studying them, activating their interests and courage to solicit knowledgeable questions.

Ford Island, where the museum is located is in the middle of Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, HI. On December 7, 1941, Japanese aircraft led a surprise attack initiating World War II. This led to a hard time for both Americans and Asian Americans, because the following year over 150,000 Japanese were ordered into internment camps although 62% of them were American citizens.

“The program served to be education, dynamic and responsive due to the nature of its interactive learning environment” observed by cooperating teacher Chris Facuri. Sparking the curiosity and interests of the youth was an important experience for Tonkin as she empathized with the difficulties of 1st generation children and their journey towards finding homage and respect for their culture while adapting to American influence. Tonkin emphasizes that this collaboration has “instilled a greater appreciation for diversity and culture of the Asian American Pacific experience. The oral histories collected barely scratched the surface.” She said, revealing her excitement towards starting new projects.

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Students capture footage of Curtis’ interaction with youth of YHLH during a field trip tour to Pacific Aviation Museum

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Students take a tour of the museum to learn about Pacific Aviation history

 

Curtis Joe, nephew of Tom Gunn, Chinese Aviator of the Pacific Ocean sitting in for an interview

Curtis Joe, nephew of Tom Gunn, Chinese Aviator of the Pacific Ocean sharing the stories of his childhood

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Students take a tour of the museum to learn about Pacific Aviation history

February 18, 2014

Young Historians, Living History- Today’s Stop: Greensboro, NC!

Special thanks to Paula Lee, Smithsonian Affiliations intern, for this guest post. This is the second 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.

Students of the Montagnard community proudly representing the Smithsonian Museum and Greensboro Historical Center

Students of the Montagnard community proudly representing the Smithsonian Museum and Greensboro Historical Center

 

Greensboro, North Carolina is home to the largest Montagnard community living not only in the United States, but outside of Vietnam which makes Greensboro, a pretty big deal. Today I’ll share what the Young Historians, Living Histories project has enabled the Smithsonian and its collaborators to discover in the recent weeks! Dean Macleod, Curator of Education at the Greensboro Historical Museum (Greensboro, North Carolina), guided me through some fascinating facts about the Montagnard community that he learned through interacting with the community’s youth.

French for “mountain people,” the Montagnard (pronounced mon-tuhn-yahrd), are the indigenous people of the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Due to political, religious, and land disputes initiated by the Communist majority of North and South Vietnam, the natives were evacuated from the highlands at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 through American efforts. The refugees began their resettlement to Greensboro, Raleigh and Charlotte, NC starting as early as 1986 in multiple but slow waves of immigration. There are as much as 9,000 Montagnard refugees in North Carolina with a majority in Greensboro, some of which have identified as Americans.

No 'I' in Team - Students take on different roles in order to complete the oral histories.

The diverse Montagnard youth unite to complete each role required for the interviewing processes.

With this in mind, Macleod approached the community with caution and respect and discovered that “the youth of the Montagnard community were thrilled that the Museum was engaging with them, and interested in digitizing their stories.” Although the 15 Montagnard students are of one community, they are unique to each other. Each student represented separate tribes as well as being refugees from different waves of immigration; some were born in Cambodia, others raised in Vietnam, and a few even born in America. Macleod remarks that the students’ involvement in the program was a way for them to feel like they were giving back for the sacrifices made by their ancestors.

The Montagnard stories in Greensboro even inspired other participating Affiliates to learn more. “I didn’t know anything about the Montagnard until hearing about this project. Thanks to the Greensboro Historical Museum, I’ve done a bit of research as a result,” said Shauna Tonkin, Director of Education at the Pacific Aviation Museum (Honolulu, Hawaii).

Because of this research, Greensboro Historical Center included the stories and artifacts in their Voices of a City: Greensboro North Carolina  exhibition. This exhibit displays 300 years of local history that enlighten its viewers on the extraordinary stories that the city has to say about the community that shaped it.

Voices of a City Exhibition Photo Credit: Greensboro Historical Center

Voices of a City Exhibition. Photo courtesy Greensboro Historical Center

Don’t forget to check back, next week’s entry will highlight students in action as we step into the spotlight and begin filming and interviewing!

Mic Check! Students prepare to begin filming the interviews.

Mic check ! Let’s get these stories heard.

Students help edit each other's interviews using Mac OS Editing Software

Students are using Mac OS Editing Software to edit their videos.

 

January 29, 2014

Announcing Leadership Seminar for Affiliates

gwlogoRecognizing that the need for leadership skills is fundamental in the field, Smithsonian Affiliations has recently signed an agreement to offer leadership training to staff of Affiliate museums in collaboration with George Washington University’s Museum Studies Program.   The Smithsonian has a long standing collaborative relationship with GW that encompasses internships, joint research programs, and research fellowships.   GW’s Museum Studies program is a nationally-known graduate training program with core curriculum in collections, exhibition development and design, new media, and museum management and leadership.  Since conducting a survey of Affiliate staff in 2012, GWs Associate Professor of Museum Studies, Martha Morris, has worked with Affiliations Director, Harold Closter, to design a two-day seminar to be held here in Washington, D.C., on June 26 and 27, 2014, following the Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference.

Museums today face incredible challenges as well as new opportunities. Globalization, new technologies, competition,  accountability, collections preservation, financial turmoil and staffing changes are all major concerns. In addition, professional standards and ethical mandates continue to evolve.  Museums need highly trained staff, committed governance, and innovative leaders to assure their long term sustainability.  The 21st-century workforce demands individuals who are collaborative, flexible, imaginative, and innovative.  The goal of this collaboration between the Smithsonian and GW is to provide opportunities for staff at all levels of the museum to gain needed skills that will position them and their organization for success.

The program will provide opportunity for interaction with leaders at the Smithsonian and other museums as well as faculty of GW.  Topics will include practical skills in management systems as well as strategic thinking and leadership philosophy.   The value of the seminar will be in developing new skills as well as creating new networks for continuing professional growth.

The program will be reasonably priced with a limited number of scholarships available.  Registration will be opening in April, but we encourage you to save the dates now.  For further information about the seminar please contact Professor Martha Morris, George Washington University Museum Studies program at morrism@gwu.edu.

Photo courtesy George Washington University.

Photo courtesy George Washington University.

January 27, 2014

affiliates in the news

Congrats to these Affiliates making news! Each month we highlight Affiliate-Smithsonian and Affiliate-Affiliate collaborations making headlines.  If you have a clipping highlighting a collaboration with the Smithsonian or with a fellow Affiliate you’d like to have considered for the Affiliate blog, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee.

Museum of the Rockies (Bozeman, Montana)
Museum of the Rockies T. rex to arrive at Smithsonian in April
The T. rex unearthed in Montana in 1988 will arrive at the National Museum of Natural History on April 15 on a 50-year loan by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Smithsonian is planning a new, 31,000-square-foot dinosaur hall that is scheduled to open in 2019.

Jack Horner, Curator of Paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies, provides scale for Tyrannosaurus rex fossils at the excavation site near the Fort Peck Reservoir in Montana in June 1990. Named for its discoverer, Kathy Wankel, the Wankel T.rex is estimated to have weighed six to seven tons. Photo courtesy Museum of the Rockies.

Jack Horner, Curator of Paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies, provides scale for Tyrannosaurus rex fossils at the excavation site near the Fort Peck Reservoir in Montana in June 1990. Named for its discoverer, Kathy Wankel, the Wankel T.rex is estimated to have weighed six to seven tons. Photo courtesy Museum of the Rockies.

American Textile History Museum (Lowell, Massachussets)
American Textile Museum Receives Major Gift
The American Textile History Museum in Lowell, MA has received a major gift of $1 million from the late G. Gordon Osborne and his wife, Marjorie, who passed away last year.

January 23, 2014

Unearthing Paleontologists in Miami

A special thanks for this guest post to Michelle Beumer, Restoration and Social Action Coordinator at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in Miami, Florida.

Ever wanted to be a Paleontologist? Last Thursday, over 100 fifth grade students from Goulds Elementary School in Homestead got to experience a day in the life of a paleontologist. Through a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science staff joined Goulds Elementary students for a fossil whalebone scavenger hunt, a live science webcast with Dr. Nick Pyenson, and a question and answer session hosted by the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C.

Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science staff member, Ta-Shana Taylor is our very own whalebone expert, and guides the students through their scavenger hunt activity. Photo courtesy Frost Museum of Science.

Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science staff member, Ta-Shana Taylor is our very own whalebone expert, and guides the students through their scavenger hunt activity. Photo courtesy Frost Museum of Science.

To jump-start the immersion experience, students were sent on a mission to hunt for special whale fossils.  Through various stations, students took a trip around the world exploring different fossil-rich locations. Students dug through buckets of sand (not unlike real paleontologists) to find their bone.  Working as a team, students then had to figure out the story of their whalebone in a broader picture by comparing results in each of the five world locations. Then Smithsonian scientist Dr. Nick Pyenson discussed his research on the webcast and showed some of the specimens that be found through his work in Peru, Chile, the eastern United States, Panama, and Vancouver, while answering questions that students from around the country asked via a live chat window. The students from Goulds Elementary learned basic whale anatomy and how that corresponds to our own human anatomy, what whale species are rare and common now versus millions of years ago, and how paleontologists discover and dig up history.

Photo courtesy Frost Museum of Science.

Photo courtesy Frost Museum of Science.

The new Q?RIUS (pronounced “curious”) collection at the National Museum of Natural History will be presented through a series of live webcasts. From January until June 2014, nine live webcasts will air that examine a wide range of scientific topics that are perfect for you and your classrooms to watch, participate in, and enjoy. Each webcast is based on the Next Generation Science Standards and entices students to explore core science concepts through real-world connections.

Explore the topics in the schedule to access a package of classroom activities, lessons, readings and other related resources that support each webcast program.

Join us in our scientific adventures and tune in to watch real Smithsonian scientists talk about their research and answer your questions, live!

Join the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science and the National Museum of Natural History on February 12th to become Bird Detectives with featuring Carla Dove.

Students watching the Q?RIUS webcast from the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy Frost Museum of Science.

Students watching the Q?RIUS webcast from the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy Frost Museum of Science.

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