TWITTER FEED

October 14, 2014

road report: the smithsonian in sunny california

On the road in sunny California!

On the road in sunny California!

Three and a half days, 559 miles and visits to eight Smithsonian Affiliates in southern California, only just begins to describe my recent trip to the west coast.  I had traveled to Los Angeles to attend the opening event for Cahuilla Continuum: Túku, Ívax, Túleka, the Riverside Metropolitan Museum’s exhibition telling the story of a Southern California Native people, the Cahuilla.  This gave me the welcome opportunity of visiting the Smithsonian Affiliates in and surrounding Los Angeles.  The following is a recap of my whirlwind tour.

Cerritos Library

Cerritos Library

I should start by saying that with 23 Smithsonian Affiliates, California has more Smithsonian Affiliates than any other state in the union.  Most states have three or four (and we have yet to Affiliate with a few states) but the diversity of California’s cultural landscape is certainly well represented in our west coast partners.

Cerritos Library, is a library (and Smithsonian Affiliate) like few others.  There is an aquarium, reading labs, exhibition spaces and an art collection. It was terrific to see the community using this resource so thoroughly.

laplaza_garden

The garden at LA Plaza through the grey metal gates.

On day 2, I visited LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, a wonderful space in a historic building- often so rare in the west.  The garden takes advantage of the hot California sun to teach students about nutrition and agriculture.

The Apollo Boilerplate at Columbia Memorial Space Center, on loan from the National Air and Space Museum.

The Apollo Boilerplate at Columbia Memorial Space Center, on loan from the National Air and Space Museum.

In the afternoon, I visited the Columbia Memorial Space Center, home to an Apollo “Boilerplate,” on loan from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.  Then I headed towards northeast toward Alta Loma to visit one of our newest Smithsonian Affiliates, the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts.  The visit to this woodworker artist’s home gave me a better understanding of the huge impact his work has had in the art world.

Here I am in a Sam Maloof chair.

Here I am in a Sam Maloof chair.

The next day, my morning began with a visit to a school on an Indian reservation; the Riverside Metropolitan Museum had brought two scholars from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian as part of their annual Smithsonian Week in Riverside.  The students asked great questions and shared their own experiences with the visitors from DC.  We stopped in at the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum in Palm Springs, also a Smithsonian Affiliate, to see their latest exhibition, Through You, Our Ancient Leaders, We Became: Birth of the Agua Caliente Band.

Michael Hammond, Director of Agua Caliente Cultural Museum and Sarah Mundy, Director of Riverside Metropolitan Museum in front of the display case holding the artifacts on loan from the National Museum of the American Indian.

Michael Hammond, Director of Agua Caliente Cultural Museum and Sarah Mundy, Director of Riverside Metropolitan Museum in front of the display case holding the artifacts on loan from the National Museum of the American Indian.

On the last day of my visit I

Students explore study collections after Jill Norwood and Emil Her Many Horses from the National Museum of the American Indian spoke to students during Smithsonian Week in Riverside.

Students explore study collections after Jill Norwood and Emil Her Many Horses from the National Museum of the American Indian spoke to students during Smithsonian Week in Riverside.

stopped in on two Affiliates: Millard Sheets Art Center in Pomona and the Western Science Center in Hemet, both doing great work connecting their communities with educational resources.  I ended my day with the event that had brought me to California: the Riverside Metropolitan Museum was celebrating the opening of their Cahuilla Continuum exhibition, which included three artifacts from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.  They were deservedly proud of their work and we were proud of the wonderful partnership between Riverside (and all of the terrific Affiliates in California) and the Smithsonian.

April 26, 2011

affiliates collaborate to Spark! imaginations

Despite being the world’s largest museum complex, one of the challenges at the Smithsonian Institution remains taking the unique offerings away from the invisible walls of the National Mall and “encourage inventive creativity in young people” who may never visit Washington D.C.

The Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation has met this opportunity head on by launching the Spark!Lab Outreach Kit Project, through a distribution of six organizations including five Affiliate museums. This collaboration is seen as an effort to extend the reach of Spark!Lab—the center’s hands-on invention activity center—beyond the boundaries of the National Museum of American History. The kits will be designed to replicate some of the most popular Spark!Lab activities and provide opportunities for partner museums to connect their collections and exhibitions to themes of invention and innovation.

The Spark!Lab kits will test and engage students in a variety of interactive stations including “Shaping Space,” a structure building activity; “Now What?,” a problem-solving game; “Snap Circuits,” which gives visitors the chance to use real circuit components to create and test their own electric inventions; and “Soundscapes,” which encourages children to use items, including musical ramps, xylophone staircases and bridges with bells, to create music and sound pathways for marbles. The “Spark!Lab Jr.” program helps learners under the age of 5 develop inventive thinking and problem-solving skills. 

“At the Lemelson Center we believe that a playful approach to problem solving can spark new ideas and lead to great inventions,” said Arthur Molella, director of the center. “This outreach project allows us to reach children outside of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and inspire a new generation of inventive Americans.”

During this pilot program, Spark!Lab kits will be featured at the following Smithsonian Affiliate museums-the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Annmarie Garden in Solomons, Maryland, the Western Science Center in Hemet, California, the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, Florida, and the Science Museum Oklahoma in Oklahoma City.

“Science Museum Oklahoma is excited to partner with the Smithsonian and offer a new challenge to our younger guests!” said Suzette Ellison, vice president of Programs and Interpretation at the museum.

An educator at Annmarie Garden inventing with a Spark!Lab kit

“We are very excited to introduce the Spark Lab kits in our classrooms,” said Jaimie Jeffrey, Education Director at Annmarie Garden. “As an arts center, teaching children to apply creative problem-solving skills and innovative thinking to everything they do is paramount for us. These kits are great reinforcements for these strategies in all of our kids’ and family programs.”

The Lemelson Center expects to develop an online Spark!Lab “tool kit” based on evaluations and ‘lessons learned’ from the in-museum activity kits. The on-line content will outline Spark!Lab’s educational philosophy, mission, and vision, and will include simple at-home activities and a list of additional resources for parents and kids.

The Spark!Lab Affiliate program is supported by a gift from the LEGO Children’s Fund.  And be sure to meet the Spark!Lab staff at the annual Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference in June.

 

Privacy

site designed by - ivey doyal