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March 26, 2011

Make the Smithsonian YOUR classroom…

Eric Stanley (left) meeting with Peter Liebhold at the National Museum of American History.

In November 2010, the Sonoma County Museum (Santa Rosa, CA) opened the SITES exhibition Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964 and was ecstatic with the positive response within the local community.  The museum was able to share the bracero story so well in part due to curator Eric Stanley’s participation in the Affiliations Visiting Professionals Program.  Eric was able to meet with and learn from the Smithsonian curators who had planned programming for the original show, which inspired some facets of the installation at the museum, including a hands-on table at which visitors could try out some of the tools braceros used. In all, Eric met with more than 30 Smithsonian experts during his residency and said, “The time I spent with those individuals, each one knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and warmly receptive of my presence, was a tremendous benefit to me and my institution.” Read Eric’s guest blogs about the exhibition and his visiting professionals experience at the Smithsonian.  

Fall 2010 visiting professional, Silvia Ros from The Wolfsonian at Florida International University (Miami) worked at the National Museum of American Indian's Cultural Resources Center.

How can you apply for the Affiliations Visiting Professionals Program?

  • If you are a full-time Affiliate staff member looking to gain more experience in a certain area of interest for your museum, you’re eligible.
  • NEW THIS YEAR!- To help you coordinate your schedule with your sponsoring Affiliate museum, selected candidates have the opportunity to complete their program during any consecutive two-weeks beginning October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012.
  • Affiliate organizations are still not responsible for providing a stipend!
  • Click here for application requirements.
  • Apply online by August 1, 2011!   

Annette Shumway interned at the National Postal Museum in 2010.

And perhaps you have an intern you’d like to recommend to spend a summer at the Smithsonian working on an area of interest for your museum? In 2010, the Frost Art Museum at Florida International University (Miami) recommended Annette Shumway for the Affiliations Intern Partnership Program.  Once accepted, Annette spent the summer at the National Postal Museum cataloging and digitizing the Postmaster General collection. During the second part of her internship back at the Frost, she piloted a digital imaging project involving the permanent collections, made recommendations for turning digitizing projects into programs at the Frost, and researched elements to include in an emergency management plan for the digital collection—all skills she was able to further practice after spending the summer at the Smithsonian.  And even better…Annette was HIRED by the National Postal Museum at the end of her internship and is now a staff member continuing her work on the Postmaster General collection! Read Annette’s blog about her internship experience at the Smithsonian.  

Shawn Pirelli, an intern partner from Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA) researched at the NMAH Archives in 2010.

How can you recommend an intern for the 2012 Intern Partnership Program?

  • If you have an established relationship with a college or graduate student (prior/current intern or volunteer perhaps) and a specific project in mind for the intern to work on during the second half of their internship back at the Affiliate organization, direct them to apply online!
  • Interns will work in a more general area of interest while at the Smithsonian and on a more specific project back at the Affiliate organization during the second half of their program.
  • NEW! Affiliate organizations are no longer responsible for any of the intern stipend. Interns will receive a modest stipend from the Affiliations office for D.C. commuting expenses.
  • Interns can apply online! Note- Online registration for the 2012 summer program will not open in October 2011.
  • Click here for application requirements. 

Who can you contact with questions?  Elizabeth Bugbee, External Affairs and Professional Development Coordinator- (202) 633-5304, BugbeeE@si.edu.

January 26, 2011

from airmail to email

Centennial Celebration of the Wiseman Cook Flight with Smithsonian Curators

Wiseman Cooke Plane on display at the National Postal Museum.

Centennial celebrations don’t happen every day.  When the Sonoma County Museum, an Affiliate in Santa Rosa, California, set out to host an event to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first airmail flight, they turned to the Smithsonian curators who care for the event’s primary artifact, the plane that made that journey a century ago.  Together, they’ve organized a program that will connect online viewers and live audiences at the Sonoma County Museum and the National Air and Space Museum to celebrate this event.

The flight was piloted on February 17 and 18, 1911 by Fred Wiseman.  Wiseman took off from Petaluma, California and flew 25 miles to Santa Rosa with three letters.  Wiseman’s plane is part of the collections of the National Air and Space Museum and is currently on display at the National Postal Museum.  The event carries even more significance to the local community because the Sonoma County Museum is located in a building that was the Santa Rosa post office in 1911. 

During the program, Tom Crouch, senior curator, aeronautics, National Air and Space Museum and Nancy Pope, curator and historian at the National Postal Museum will share their knowledge about the flight.  Tom will discuss the historical context of the plane and Nancy will talk about its significance to postal history. 

Please join us on Saturday, February 19th at 2pm Eastern Standard Time at the Smithsonian’s Ustream channel, where online viewers can watch the lecture and email questions to both curators.   If you would like to organize a similar distance learning program, contact your national outreach manager.

January 3, 2011

Sonoma County Museum shares local bracero stories through SITES exhibition

Juan Villa and friend performing Corridos at the "Free Family Day" at the Sonoma County Museum.

This past November, Sonoma County Museum opened the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service’s (SITES) Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964 and they hoped that their local community would help bring the exhibition alive.  The museum was not disappointed.  Through a busy schedule of public events at the museum, visitors responded to the exhibition in a very personal way.  

When the National Museum of American History (NMAH) began researching the Leonard Nadel photographs that were taken to document the lives of the migrant farm workers, curators realized that they had an enormous asset to learn more about the images: the people who were there.  Many braceros are alive today, never having shared their past stories with anyone other than their immediate families.  In some cases, their children are not even aware of their pasts.  Research focused on collecting oral histories and documenting experiences of the thousands of workers that participated in this government program.  When the traveling exhibition was organized, curators hoped that each stop on its tour would yield more stories from this important chapter in American history.  Sonoma County Museum’s programs did just that.  

Oral history screen in the "Bittersweet Harvest" exhibition.

Eric Stanley, Exhibitions and Collections Curator at the Sonoma County Museum told us how they approached the programming that complemented the exhibition so well.  The museum began with video oral histories of local braceros, filmed several months before the opening.  “The oral history project was sponsored in part by a programming grant from SITES, which helped facilitate the project,” said Eric.  Eric also had the opportunity to see the NMAH installation of the exhibition, while in Washington, D.C. as a Smithsonian Affiliations Visiting Professional.  He was able to meet with staff who had planned programming for the original show, which inspired some facets of the installation at the Sonoma County Museum, including a hands on table at which visitors could try out some of the tools braceros used.  

The video oral histories became the centerpiece of the opening reception, which drew many of the interviewed braceros and their families.  One guest, Cruz Leon Martinez, worked as a bracero before settling in Sonoma County- where he found work in a winery.  Mr. Martinez attended with several generations of his family and guests, proud to share the video oral history with them. 

Former bracero Cruz Leon Martinez (seated with hat) and his family at the opening reception.

Sonoma County Museum also hosted a “Free Family Day” which featured live performances of corridos and other songs about labor and migration.  The standing-room only event featured a recent documentary on the Bracero Program and was well covered in the media.   Eric told us that the exhibit has been very popular with tour groups and that he has received many thank you’s from students who have visited the exhibition.  One such note says, “I want to thank you because you gave us the opportunity to go see the museum. I learned about how people were living in their past … I’m going to ask my mom to go to the museum with my sister, because I would like to see my little sister learning about our past.”  

Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964 is on view at the Sonoma County Museum until January 30, 2011.

All photographs courtesy Sonoma County Museum.

October 26, 2010

coming up in affiliateland in november 2010

November is another busy month in Affiliateland!

ILLINOIS
Sousa and His League of Players: America’s Music and the Golden Age of Baseball opens at the Sousa Archives at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in Champaign, 11.1.

NEW YORK:
The Smithsonian American Art Museum loans a 1966 Charmion von Wiegand painting to the Rubin Museum of Art, in New York, 11.5. 

WASHINGTON:
The Museum of History and Industry will announce their Affiliation at an event with Smithsonian Regent Patty Stonesifer, in Seattle, 11.5. 

NORTH CAROLINA:
David Bohaska, collections manager in the Department of Paleobiology at the National Museum of Natural History will participate in the annual Fossil Festival at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, in Raleigh, 11.6. 

MISSISSIPPI:
The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art will host a Grand Opening of their new museum  and will unveil “Blackberry Woman,” a Richmond Barthe bronze sculpture, on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in Biloxi, 11.6.

PENNSYLVANIA:
The National Museum of American Jewish History hosts a Grand Opening Weekend showcasing several Smithsonian loans, in Philadelphia, 11.12-14. 

PUERTO RICO
Three José Campeche paintings travel for the first time from the Smithsonian American Art Museum to the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, in San Juan, 11.18. 

FLORIDA:
Smithsonian Secretary, G. Wayne Clough, will give a public lecture at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University, in Miami, 11.19. 

CALIFORNIA:
The SITES’ exhibition, Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964 will open at the Sonoma County Museum, in Santa Rosa, 11.20. 

August 11, 2010

eric stanley: summer at the smithsonian

We invited our recent Smithsonian Affiliate interns and visiting professionals to blog about their experiences in our Summer at the Smithsonian series. Below, Eric Stanley, curator of exhibitions and collections at Sonoma County Museum (Santa Rosa, CA), describes his spring residency at the Smithsonian. Special thanks to Eric Stanley for this post.

Eric meeting with Peter Liebhold and other curators at NMAH to discuss the "Bittersweet Harvest" exhibition

Seeking insights into the process of creating history exhibitions, I spent two weeks in March at the National Museum of American History (NMAH) through the Smithsonian Affiliations Visiting Professionals Program. While I was expecting exposure to a select few elements of the process, it was my great pleasure to be introduced to many facets of creating exhibitions, as well as some other management and collections issues at NMAH. During the course of my program, I met over thirty people at the Smithsonian, mainly at American History, and was able to learn something from each of them. The time I spent with those individuals, each one knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and warmly receptive of my presence, was a tremendous benefit to me and my institution.

Early in my program, I met with Paula Johnson, Curator in the Division of Work and Industry. Our conversation focused mainly on the exhibition On the Water. She shared with me the various stages of exhibition conception and design; fundraising; label writing; artifact selection; which elements were most successful and why; and many other topics. As the Sonoma County Museum moves into the process of creating larger, longer term exhibitions, the exposure to Paula’s approach was useful.

Eric meets with Peter Liebhold and Steve Velasquez at NMAH.

Two particular appointments helped me appreciate the craftsmanship, planning and effort involved in the physical production of exhibition cases, graphics and other components. I met with Omar Wynn, Director of the Office of Exhibits Production at NMAH and toured the museum’s production areas. I also had the opportunity to see Omar and his staff at work in the First Ladies’ gallery in preparation for receiving and installing Michelle Obama’s gown. His outlook on the relationship between his production staff and the curators, and his intense commitment to uphold his standards was thought provoking and inspiring. Similarly, I had the unusual opportunity to tour the Office of Exhibits Central and met with graphic designers, curators, collections managers, and production people associated with the facility.

One of the most relevant and insightful meetings I had was with Nigel Briggs, Exhibit Designer. The core goal of my program was to gain some knowledge of contemporary exhibition design standards and aesthetics, which is a challenging and complex question. History exhibitions throughout the country take a remarkably diverse approach, so defining one standard is nearly impossible. However, Nigel provided me some very practical insights and discussed the “look” of a number of exhibitions and what made them appear dated or contemporary. My only regret was not being able to spend a little more time in conversation with him.

Finally, I had an exceptionally productive meeting with the team who created the Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964 exhibition.  Since the Sonoma County Museum is taking this SITES exhibition in November, it was an enormous benefit to be able to interact with the people who actually created the exhibition. I had a chance to discuss their approach to the collection and oral histories from former braceros; we are planning to employ a similar approach to collect bracero oral histories locally. We also recently were awarded a SITES grant to support our programming for Bittersweet Harvest.

Eric was presented with a certificate of award from Affiliations Director Harold Closter and NMAH Affiliations Program Manager Rosemary Phillips.

There were other, very productive meetings that I did not mention here. The broad overview that I was provided through my program was an undeniably valuable experience and afforded me an unusual, insider’s glimpse of one of the finest history museums around. I could not have been more pleased with the support and encouragement I received from Smithsonian Affiliations staff and from the Affiliations Program Managers at NMAH. My participation in the Visiting Professionals Program is an experience I will never forget.

Next in the series: Annette Shumway- Affiliations Intern Partner from the Frost Art Museum at Florida International University (Miami, FL).

July 26, 2010

summer at the smithsonian

We’ve invited our recent Affiliate interns and visiting professionals to blog about their experiences in our Summer at the Smithsonian series beginning in August.  Shawn Pirelli, Smithsonian Affiliations intern partner from Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA) will kick us off, so check back soon! Here’s a taste of what each thought of their time at the Smithsonian: 

Affiliate Visiting Professionals 

Eric Stanley (left) spent two weeks at the National Museum of American History researching the process of developing and designing history exhibitions.

“It was my great pleasure to be introduced to many, many facets of creating exhibitions at NMAH. I met over thirty people and was able to learn something from each of them. The time I spent with them, each one knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and warmly receptive of my presence, was a tremendous benefit to me and my institution,” said Eric Stanley, Sonoma County Museum (Santa Rosa, CA). 

Chena Popper spent three weeks at the National Museum of Natural History with registrars and collections care experts.

“It was a great learning experience to be able to see the loan process from start to finish, from loan forms to insurance and shipping, arrangements to condition reporting. Then on the SDNHM side, I was able to assist with the receiving, condition reporting and installation of the pieces,” said Chena Popper, San Diego Natural History Museum (San Diego, CA). 

Lisa Falk (left) benefited from a 4-week, pan-institutional project focused on technology and Web 2.0 initiatives at the Smithsonian.

“My SI colleagues were inviting, open, and encouraging. Their work is inspiring and has given me many ideas and broadened my understanding of the possibilities and some of the difficulties in creating digital and face-to-face museum interactions. Back home, I look forward to sharing what I learned with my ASM colleagues and trying out some of the Smithsonian approaches,” said Lisa Falk, Arizona State Museum (Tucson, AZ).

Affiliations Intern Partners

Annette Shumway at the National Postal Museum working to digitize the Postmaster General Collection.

“Taking part in both of these projects has helped me understand the logistics behind coordinating loans and standards involved in collections’ imaging projects. I feel that much of the experience that I gained through this period will aid in the second portion of my internship which will involve initiating a collections digitization program,” said Annette Shumway, Smithsonian Affiliations Intern Partner at the Frost Art Museum at Florida International University (Miami, FL). 

Shawn Pirelli is wrapping up 10 weeks at the Smithsonian researching Thanksgiving traditions for a future exhibition.

“I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most revered curators and archivists in the world.  The Smithsonian is truly an untapped gold mine in historical records. With the help of the staff, I was able to uncover some of the most truly magnificent historical records that, during their time, helped shape and change the United States,” said Shawn Pirelli, Smithsonian Affiliations Intern Partner at Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA). 

David Kerr alternates his internship between the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian Affiliations

“My Smithsonian Affiliations internship has been incredibly advantageous. From handling and transcribing Teddy Roosevelt  letters to helping do research for an upcoming work on the Civil War to meeting with curators to discuss current exhibits and collections, my time has been very well spent, and my future as an academic or as a future employee can only benefit,” said David Kerr, Smithsonian Affiliations Intern Partner at the Frazier International History Museum (Louisville, KY). 

Smithsonian Institution Intern  

Juliana Walker (right) tests an interactive game at the National Zoo with Affiliate researcher, Lisa Falk.

“Under the direction of Harold Closter I was able to learn about the enormous positive impact the Smithsonian Affiliations Office has across the country. By researching museums in the states where Affiliates are not present, I hope my research may help extend the Affiliate network across even more,” said Juliana Walker, Junior at the State University of New York at Fredonia.

Don’t forget to visit our blog in August for stories from each of our interns and visiting professionals! Read first-hand how professional development opportunities at Smithsonian Affiliations can benefit your museum.  And keep checking back for application deadlines for 2011.

April 23, 2010

you could be our next visiting professional!

 

Katey Ahmann at the National Postal Museum.

Katey Ahmann at the National Postal Museum.

Twice a year, Affiliate staff members have the unique opportunity to work alongside SI experts for research and hands-on training through our Visiting Professional Program.  Affiliations was delighted to welcome  six Affiliate staff members for the fall 2009 and spring 2010 programs.  Here’s  a taste of what past visiting professionals experienced to inspire you to apply!    

 

In October 2009, Katey Ahmann from the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences spent a month working in the Smithsonian’s Office of Policy and Analysis where she conducted visitor evaluation studies at the National Postal Museum. She learned  strategies for interpreting the data through observation and discussions with other visiting residents.  

Lee Goodan at the National Museum of Natural History

Lee Goodan at the National Museum of Natural History

 

 

Also in the fall, Lee Goodan, from the Charlotte Museum of History, spent three-weeks working among four Smithsonian divisions—the Spark!Lab at the National Museum of American History (NMAH), Discovery Center at the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air & Space Museum, and Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center. Lee learned how young visitors were using exploratory spaces at the Smithsonian and how the educators were using the galleries in a larger educational context.   This will help Lee as the Charlotte Museum develops plans to create a new Hands-on History Room, an interactive area for early Pre-K students.

 

Eric Stanley at the National Museum of American History.

Eric Stanley (left) at the National Museum of American History.

Joining us in February 2009 from the Sonoma County Museum, Eric Stanley worked with the staff at NMAH to learn about the development, research, and design phases of exhibitions, as he looks forward to planning expanded history galleries at the museum. Eric said, “It was a tremendous opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look and broad overview of a world-class history museum. I also cannot say enough about the individuals I met, the insights they shared, and the lasting connections I made. In addition to what I learned about exhibitions, I also came away with a richer sense of the possibilities that exist through the Affiliates program.”

 

Chena Popper in the Gems & Minerals department at NMNH.

Chena Popper in the Gems & Minerals department at NMNH.

 

 

 

Chena Popper, from the San Diego Natural History Museum just wrapped-up her visiting professional program in mid-April. Chena had the opportunity to work directly with the ten SI artifacts that are being loaned to her Museum for their All that Glitters: the Splendor & Science of Gems & Minerals exhibition opening May 15, 2010.    Working directly with experts at NMNH, Chena worked in the gem collection to help prepare the gems and jewelry which will be displayed at her Museum.  In addition to working directly with the artifacts, Chena also spent two-weeks in the registrar’s office at NMNH learning all the methods of care and registration for incoming and outgoing loans. 

 

And starting soon, Juan Carlos Lopez, a curator from the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, will be researching collections across the Smithsonian that pertain to Puerto Rican and Latino fine art.  Supported by a grant from the Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Pool, Juan Carlos plans to develop an exhibition that explores the progression of Latin art from 1960- 1990, among other potential topics. Check back in the coming weeks as we blog about his experience!

 

Don’t forget the fall 2010 deadline for applications is June 4!  For more information and program guidelines, contact Elizabeth Bugbee, (202) 633.5304.

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