September 28, 2015

Kudos Affiliates! for October 2015

Affiliates continue to demonstrate significant impact, all over the country. Congratulations to all!


The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced grants for 217 museum projects awarded through the highly competitive Museums for America and National Leadership Grants for Museums programs including the following Affiliates:

The San Diego Natural History Museum will improve the management and accessibility of data for more than 1.2 million specimens in its paleontology research collection by upgrading its current database to “Specify 6,” a database designed specifically for natural history collections.

The Denver Art Museum will develop a Latino artist-in-residence program to better reflect the full diversity of the community. The museum will create a series of one-month Latino artist residencies, bringing Latino artists of local, national, and international stature to the museum.

The Denver Art Museum will conduct a first-ever detailed conservation survey of 604 three-dimensional objects in its Architecture, Design, and Graphics collection. The project will advance institutional long-range goals for strengthening collections management by improving curatorial knowledge of the collection condition in anticipation of heightened exhibition, rotation, and program activity.

History Colorado seeks to improve the stewardship of a collection of 6,187 historic objects and more than 50,000 archaeological artifacts through relocation of the items to a new storage facility. Relocation to an 15 environmentally stable and readily accessible facility will allow History Colorado to more effectively preserve and manage its collections.

The Mystic Seaport Museum will improve the physical state of the 1908 steamboat, Sabino, a National Historic Landmark vessel and the last remaining wooden, coal-fired, operating steamboat in the United States.

The Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art will undertake two video projects to help visitors better understand the museum and earth science, and to provide an incentive for more school-driven visits. The museum plans to update its welcoming video, and a second video will focus on earth science with STEM-related material.

Conner Prairie Museum will implement a series of on-going maker programs using the tools, materials, and philosophy of the modern maker movement by drawing inspiration from the historic crafts and trades visitors experience at the museum.  

  • Abbe Museum (Bar Harbor, ME) – Award Amount: $150,000;

The Abbe Museum will design, fabricate, and install a permanent exhibit showcasing the history and culture of Maine’s native Wabanaki people. The exhibit will include content, artifacts, images, and interactive elements informed by the museum’s interpretive framework, its Native Advisory Council, and Native advisors.

The USS Constitution Museum will create an online collections, research, and interpretive portal for educators and information seekers of all ages offering free and unlimited access to the museum’s nationally significant collection of manuscripts, rare books, artifacts, and artwork capturing the role of the Constitution during the War of 1812.

The Michigan State University Museum will preserve an important collection of rare and fragile barn models located for decades in substandard space, by rehousing them in the museum’s cultural collections resource center, a climate-controlled repository.

The Senator John Heinz History Center will develop, fabricate, and tour a traveling exhibit that will use life figures, modular panels, hands-on objects, cases with artifacts, oral histories, and video components to help audiences at small local museums explore how World War II transformed the lives of Pennsylvania residents.  

The Museum of History and Industry will launch a two-year project designed to engage participants, pre-K through adult learners, through a coordinated set of museum, classroom, and community experiences in exploring the region’s legacy of innovation, collaboration, experimentation, and perseverance skills.

The Wing Luke Asian Museum will expand and strengthen its guided neighborhood walking tours to provide opportunities for members of the Asian Pacific American community to share their stories, to stimulate the local economy by fostering partnerships with neighborhood businesses and organizations, and to promote the historic and cultural appeal of the Chinatown International District.

Madison Children’s Museum will model a creative approach to behavioral change encouraging increased physical activity by redesigning stairwells in its historic building and by producing related programming to counteract decreased activity and a rise in obesity among Wisconsin children. During the two-year initiative, the museum will produce three examples of stairwell transformation.

Museum of Latin American Art (Long Beach, CA) and Framingham State University (Framingham, MA) have been selected to receive a competitive Latino Americans: 500 Years of History grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association. As two of 203 grant recipients selected from across the country, both will receive a cash grant of $3,000 to hold public programming — such as public film screenings, discussion groups, oral history initiatives, local history exhibitions, multi-media projects or performances — about Latino history and culture.

The Abbe Museum (Bar Harbor, ME) has received a grant from Grants to Green Maine to provide an energy efficiency audit for the museum’s historic downtown location. The grant complements the museum’s Greening the Abbe Initiative and the near completion of the National Endowment for the Humanities funded projects that have helped reduce the Abbe’s carbon footprint and operating costs.

PNC’s Grow Up Great program has awarded a $30,000 grant to The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art and Technology (Newark, OH) to provide early childhood science education this coming school year. The programs will feature classroom instruction, field trips and family nights at the Works. New this year will be a teacher professional development day at the Works facilitated by an instructor from the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center.

The Witte Museum (San Antonio, TX) announced the beginning stages of construction for the H-E-B Lantern, the entrance to the New Witte and home to a Pterosaur, “Quetzy” through a generous donation of $2 million on behalf of H-E-B to the New Witte.


Susan J. Weller, former executive director and curator at the J.F. Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota, has been named director of the University of Nebraska State Museum (Lincoln, NE). She succeeds Priscilla Grew, who has directed the museum since 2003.

Fundraising professional Karrie Zuccarello of Indianapolis has been named chief development officer at Conner Prairie (Fishers, IN). She joins the museum from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, where she was director of development since 2011.

The Denver Art Museum (Denver, Colorado) has named fashion and art historian and curator Florence Müller as its next Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art, Curator of Fashion.



July 24, 2015

what’s going on in Affiliateland? july-august 2015

Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight exhibition from the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service opened at the Air Zoo in Portage, 7.4.

Dr. Jeremy Kinney of the National Air and Space Museum talks about the role of aeronautic innovation in western Pennsylvania during WWII.

Dr. Jeremy Kinney of the National Air and Space Museum talks about the role of aeronautic innovation in western Pennsylvania during WWII.

Brittany Vernon, Coca Cola/IMLS Museum Studies Apprentice at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati spent a three-week externship at the Anacostia Community Museum, helping the education department plan for a teen docent program in Washington, 7.6-7.24.

The Ohio History Connection will host a webinar on Early Childhood Programming in the Museum featuring Betsy Bowers of the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, in Columbus, 8.5.

South Dakota State Historical Society broadcasts Smithsonian webcasts on Space Junk: Fast Trash and Hot Air Balloons and Air Pressure in Pierre, 7.21.

Dr. Jeremy Kinney, curator at the National Air and Space Museum, will give a public lecture on Innovating for Victory: How Pittsburgh Helped Win WWII lecture at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, 7.25.

Measuring 48 feet long and weighing in at 2,500 pounds, the massive predator Titanoboa cerrejonensis is coming to Seattle.   ©2012 SNI/SI Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Measuring 48 feet long and weighing in at 2,500 pounds, the massive predator Titanoboa cerrejonensis is coming to Seattle.
©2012 SNI/SI Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Center will also host the annual Pittsburgh’s Hidden Treasures: An Antiques Appraisal Show event, featuring Manda Kowalczyk, Preservation Specialist at the National Postal Museum, in Pittsburgh, 8.30.

The Long Island Museum opens Beth Levine: The First Lady of Shoes exhibition, featuring Levine’s portrait on loan from the National Portrait Gallery, in Stony Brook, 8.21.

The Children’s Museum of the Upstate will present Innoskate 2015 in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation in Greenville, 8.8.

The Chabot Space and Science Center hosts ¡Descubra! Meet the Science Expert Family Day in collaboration with the Smithsonian Latino Center, in Oakland, 8.22.

The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture will open Titanoboa: Monster Snake from the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service in Seattle, 8.22.

Mary Savig, curator at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, will serve as a juror for the exhibition Finding our Place: The Geography of Art at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in Solomons, 8.24.

Skaters of all ages can learn innovative techniques at Innoskate in South Carolina.

Skaters of all ages can learn innovative techniques at Innoskate in South Carolina.

April 25, 2014

coming up in affiliateland in May 2014


As summer approaches, things are heating up in Affiliateland!

Several staff members from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West will speak during a day-long conference at the Smithsonian on 300 Years of Innovation in Scotland and America, coming from Cody, 5.1.

Affiliations director Harold Closter will be speaking at the Colorado-Wyoming Museum Association meeting in Cody, 5.7-10.

Beth Wilson of the National Air and Space Museum leads a videoconference session on the Wright Flyer.

Beth Wilson of the National Air and Space Museum leads a videoconference session on the Wright Flyer.

Wayne Motts, Director of the National Civil War Museum (an Affiliate in Harrisburg, PA) will give a public lecture on the Civil War at the members preview of the new 1864 exhibition at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw, 5.2.

The South Dakota State Historical Society hosts a talk and book signing on the Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects by Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture, in Pierre, 5.5.

The National Air and Space Museum will present an online workshop for students on Kites, Wings and Flying Things: Learning with the Wright Brothers, to be held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, 5.6, 13 and 27.

Conner Prairie Interactive History Park  hosts a workshop on the Importance of Informal Learning with Betsy Bowers, Director of the Smithsonian Center for Innovation in Early Learning in Fishers, 5.9.

Betsy Bowers will discuss how young explorers in informal museum environments are a vital part of early childhood learning at the Smithsonian.

Betsy Bowers will discuss how young explorers in informal museum environments are a vital part of early childhood learning at the Smithsonian.

National Air and Space Museum curator Carolyn Russo will serve as a juror for the Mayfaire Arts Festival at the Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, 5.10-11.

The Frost Art Museum hosts a talk and book signing on the Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects by Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture, in Miami, 5.21.

A group of staff from the U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center will spend a day touring collections and exhibitions with colleagues at the National Museum of American History, coming from Carlisle, 5.12

The Smithsonian Associates have organized a study tour on Natural History of the Mid-Atlantic: Stories of Calvert County that will visit Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in Solomons, 5.17.

Allison Wickens, Director of Education at the National Postal Museum, will give a public lecture on  Colorado Mail Stories: By Train, Plane, and Pony Express at History Colorado in Denver, 5.20

April 29, 2013

early learning in museums


Students from the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center explore shapes in a nearby sculpture garden.

In 2012, the Institute of Museum and Library Services hosted a series of meetings to inform the development of a groundbreaking report on the role of libraries and museums in early learning.  Among the advisors to those meetings were representatives from the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, a model school on the Smithsonian campus that combines the best practices in both early childhood and museum education. 

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama declared, “Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road… I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America.”

Given the increased interest and discussion at all levels about the importance of early learning, the timing is prime for museums and libraries to articulate and advance their participation in this arena.  The IMLS report, to be released this month, will make the case for decision makers at the local, state, and federal levels to fully use the capacity of libraries and museums in their early learning efforts.  The role (both current and potential) that museums and libraries play in the effort to educate our youngest children is immense, powerful, and inspiring.

As the executive director of the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, Dr. Kimberlee Kiehl is well-positioned to discuss how museums can take a leadership role in supporting early learning.  In her keynote talk at the Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference on June 12, Dr. Kiehl will focus on collaboration ideas between the Smithsonian and the Affiliate network, and how such partnerships can change the face of early learning in our country. 

Do you have ideas to share about what your organization is doing with young learners?

Do you have specific questions about integrating early learning into your museum?

Take a few minutes to let us know in this quick, 3-question poll, so we can make this session as useful and productive as possible!

 The Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference is for current Affiliates only. If you are interested in becoming an Affiliate, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee, 202.633.5304, for more information. Click here for 2013 Conference hotel information, agenda and registration.




September 14, 2011

Art, Community, and Culture on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Special thanks to Sharon Shaffer, Executive Director, Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, for this guest post.

Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art, Welcome Center

The Ohr O’Keefe Museum of Art (Gulfport, MS) tells three significant stories through its museum and collections. It is the museum design of Frank Gehry, the unparallelled collection of pottery by George Edgar Ohr, and the artifacts of freed slave and craftsman Pleasant Reed that tell important stories of culture and heritage in the Mississippi Coastal Region.

The Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (SEEC) partnered with the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art (OOMA) to bring these stories to area students through educational field guides, supported by an IMLS grant.  SEEC museum professionals–Sharon Shaffer, Betsy Bowers, and Anna Forgerson– authored the field guides, while OOMA professionals will vet, edit, and create the visual design for the materials.

The student field guides are specially designed for developmental levels (early elementary, upper elementary, middle school, and high school) with six individual experiences defined for each level.  Each set offers an introduction to the museum, an exploration of the work and life of George Ohr, Pleasant Reed, and Frank Gehry, and a culminating experience that looks at the intersection of these individuals.  The intens is to fully engage students to look, reflect, connect, relate, and imagine, in the galleries and then return to the classroom to extend learning with standards-based ideas provided in teacher’s guides.

"Blackberry Woman" by Richmond Barthe on loan to OOMA from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

A group of K-12 educators from local Mississippi schools serve on an educational planning committee and have offered an inside voice for the experiences crafted by SEEC educators.  They will also play a role in the two days of professional development that SEEC will lead at OOMA in January 2012.

Teachers are eager to begin using the new standards-based materials and the museum is excited to be able to serve area students through newly developed experiences that highlight the stories of their museum.  For all, particularly SEEC, this has been a labor of love… collaborating with exceptional museum professionals and dedicated classroom teachers to tell stories of Mississippi culture and heritage through the beauty of the museum.



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