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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!

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.

January 10, 2014

Happy 2014 Affiliateland!

prezi22013 was an exciting year for Smithsonian Affiliates. If you saw our recent e-Affiliate newsletter, our Year in Review Prezi took you on a coast-to-coast road trip through a Seriously Amazing year in Affiliate neighborhoods. But there was so much good news to tell we couldn’t fit it all in to one Prezi. So here are some more 2013 Affiliations by the numbers fun facts for you. Happy New Year! We are looking forward to a collaboration-filled 2014 with all of you.

There were 183 Affiliates in 43 states, Puerto Rico and Panama. Nine new Affiliates joined our network in 2013!

Our social media platforms grew and helped us engage with more than 670,000 people  interested in the Smithsonian in their neighborhood:

7,481      Blog Visits (unique visits)

2,175      Facebook Fans

2,818      Twitter Followers

671,178     YouTube views

 12,000   new museum members joined the Smithsonian through the Smithsonian Affiliations Membership Program offered at their local Affiliate.

Our National Outreach Managers helped facilitate 80  new Artifact loans for Affiliates. There are now 1,359 Smithsonian artifacts currently on view in Affiliate communities.

17 Smithsonian exhibits at 20 Affiliates opened in 2013. Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service organized 10 of them for travel. Four of those Affiliates were awarded Smithsonian Community Grants, sponsored by MetLife, to plan programming to go along with the SITES exhibits at their museum.

Our Affiliates hosted 66 Smithsonian speakers and experts in 2013, sharing stories about Citizen Science, DNA an its influence on modern discoveries, Thomas Jefferson’s Bible, the art of boat-building, Elvis, Asian American portraits and much, much more.

In September 2013,  89 Affiliates participated in Museum Day Live!, opening their doors to visitors for free thanks to Smithsonian magazine.

The 2013 Affiliations National Conference was one of our highest attended events in Affiliations history! 119 attendees from 74 Affiliate organizations in 31 states and Puerto Rico joined Smithsonian colleagues in Washington, D.C.  18 Affiliate colleagues participated as panelists, and spoke about topics including digital outreach, 3-D imaging, mobile apps, traveling exhibits, and collaborative fundraising. (Mark your calendars for this year’s conference- June 23-24, 2014!)

Thanks to all of our Smithsonian and Affiliate colleagues who helped make 2013 such a success!

 

December 11, 2013

New Smithsonian Neighbor playlist: Civil War 150

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we created a Civil War 150 playlist on our Smithsonian Neighbor YouTube page. Check out these videos from our friends at the Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and see if you spot the two artifacts on loan from the National Museum of American History! Do you have videos you’d like us to share on our YouTube page? Email Elizabeth Bugbee with the links and we’ll add you to our playlist!

Dog Jack: Hero Dog of the Civil War

Strong Vincent – Civil War Hero

Rodman Cannon

Allegheny Arsenal

December 3, 2013

Smithsonian X 3D: Revolutionizing how we see things

Recently, the Smithsonian unveiled the Smithsonian X 3D Collection and state-of-the-art 3D explorer. The Smithsonian X 3D Collection features objects from the Smithsonian that highlight different applications of 3D capture and printing, as well as digital delivery methods for 3D data in research, education and conservation. It was featured in a Center for the Future of Museums blog last week as well. Will it revolutionize the way we teach? Perhaps one day soon. But right now it’s certainly transforming the way we see the world one amazing object at a time!

I had a chance to explore the new 3D website and it’s definitely worth registering for an account. Getting an up-close look at the Wright flyer or watching a video describing how the scans were completed is worth it alone, and then add on the ‘tours’ for each object and your creative wheels start turning thinking of how you can share this with everyone you know. All objects in the explorer come with comprehensive guided tours. Each tour tells an interesting story about an object of the Smithsonian X 3D Collection. Tours are similar to PowerPoint presentations, but are always “live”. At any time during a tour, you can interact with everything you see in the viewer. It was pretty easy to get a handle on and after clicking around for a while, I had it down and was zooming in and out to look at details in the Wright flyer.

 

The coolest thing for Affiliates is the potential in the Educators section. In order to make our 137 million object collection more accessible, the 3D team came up with these teachable objects for everyone to explore. Some of our Affiliates are already using 3D technology for educational purposes. In fact, Dr. Herbert Maschner, Director of the Idaho Museum of Natural History, an Affiliate in Pocatello, Idaho, was a panelist in the recent symposium at the Smithsonian. He spoke about his museum’s work in “democratizing science,” scanning collections all over the world, resulting in data sets which can be used by researchers in a variety of disciplines.  The scans result in 3D or electronic files which can now be accessed from anywhere- even by teachers in classrooms, tying the subject matter into school curricula.

One of our National Outreach Managers, Laura Hansen, was able to attend the Smithsonian X 3D conference and said,

“This technology represents a wonderful opportunity for museums.  Models resulting from high resolution scans and printed on a 3D printer can give visitors and students access to objects in unprecedented ways.  Want to study mathematics? How about a scale model of the Parthenon to inspire students?  Wish you could handle a fragile fossil bone to see how an animal moved?  These scans and printed objects can help us think about collections in new ways, making museums repositories of information from the past that can literally shape our future.”

So take some time and explore the new Smithsonian X 3D Collection.  Just another idea from your friends at Smithsonian Affiliations to bring the Smithsonian to your neighborhood!

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