February 27, 2017

Coming up in Affiliateland in March 2017

Spring is stirring, and so are Affiliates with fresh activity!

National Museum of American History curator Shannon Perich will give a lecture on popular culture in the 1970s at the Durham Museum to complement the SITES exhibition currently on view, Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project, in Omaha, 3.21.                       

Dolores Huerta / by Barbara Carrasco / Silkscreen 1999 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, © 1999 Barbara Carrasco


National Portrait Gallery curator Taína Caragol will lecture on Dolores Huerta for Women’s History Month at the Rhode Island Historical Society in Providence, 3.23.                          

The Rockwell Museum continues with its Smithsonian Speaker Series with a talk by Adriel Luis of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, in Corning, 3.23.

National Museum of American History conservator Sunae Park Evans will speak on conserving First Ladies gowns at the Long Island Museum to complement the exhibition Brilliant Partners: Judith Leiber’s Handbags and the Art of Gerson Leiber, featuring the loan of Mamie Eisenhower’s purse from the Smithsonian, in Stony Brook, 3.26.

Rahim Al Haj, Smithsonian Folkways performer and oud player, presents Letters from Iraq at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, 3.24.

The Michigan State University Museum will host a workshop on the Will to Adorn initiative of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in East Lansing, 3.30.

Members of the Smithsonian will enjoy lunch and tours at the B & O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, 3.30.


September 29, 2014

let’s source the crowds

While it may seem like a contemporary term, many museums, including the Smithsonian, have been using crowdsourcing as a strategy for years.  At the Smithsonian, we’ve been at it since 1849, when the first Secretary, Joseph Henry, used 150 weather observers all over the U.S. to contribute data, an activity that led to the formation of the National Weather Service.

The Smithsonian still sources the power of our audiences today on topics ranging from tree leaves and gardens to immigration and stories from rural America.  We’d love to hear from you!  Please contribute your voice, or let your visitors know, about the projects below.  Do you have a crowdsourcing initiative you’d like to share?  Let us know in the comments.

SI Transcription Center– Crowdsourcing transcriptions of primary source documents https://transcription.si.edu/

Leafsnap – Crowdsourcing tree images for mobile app http://leafsnap.com/


crowdsourced image of kohlrabi growing in the garden of The Works, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Newark, Ohio.

Encyclopedia of Life – Crowdsourcing species-related media http://eol.org/info/contribute

Our American Journey (National Museum of American History) – Crowdsourcing oral histories of American experience of migration and immigration  http://my.si.edu/oaj/story

Community of Gardens (Smithsonian Gardens)- Learn from the ways that gardens and gardeners of all backgrounds have shaped America’s landscape.  https://communityofgardens.si.edu/

Agriculture Innovation and Heritage Archive (National Museum of American History) – Think about how transformations in American agriculture have affected you, your family, your community, and the environment.    http://americanhistory.si.edu/agheritage/how-to-participate

Stories from Main Street  (Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service)– Crowdsourcing stories about rural America  – http://www.storiesfrommainstreet.org/

Ask Smithsonian (Smithsonian Magazine) – Try to stump us with a question about anything.  Really, anything.  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/ask-smithsonian/ask-form/?no-ist

Will to Adorn (Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage) – Listen to and contribute your stories about the choices you make everyday when you dress for school, work, fun, or special occasions. http://www.festival.si.edu/2013/Will_to_Adorn/GetTheApp/

eMammal (National Museum of Natural History) – Work with researchers to document mammals using camera traps. http://emammal.wordpress.com/about/

Finally, here’s a look at some spectacular online exhibitions created by crowdsourcing:

from the crowdsourced exhibition, A Day in the Life of Asian Pacific America

from the crowdsourced exhibition, A Day in the Life of Asian Pacific America

A Day in the Life of Asian Pacific America (Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center) – The first crowdsourced gallery of the Asian Pacific American experience around the world as lived on one day.  http://smithsonianapa.org/life2014/

My Space Shuttle Memories (National Air and Space Museum) Did you ever see a space shuttle launch or land in person?   http://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/moving-beyond-earth/memories.cfm

Portraits of Planet Ocean (National Museum of Natural History) - Stunning photo gallery of the world’s magnificent oceans by oceanographers and enthusiasts.   https://www.flickr.com/groups/portraitsofplanetocean/



May 31, 2011

Folk Festivals: Showcasing Cultures Throughout the Country

“Well, surely I knew what Folklife was, in fact, I was Folklife!”- O. T. Baker, Texas Folklife Festival Founder, 1976 oral history interview with the Institute of Texan Cultures

They say that imitation is the best form of flattery.  So it should come as no surprise that as the National Mall is slowly altered into a small city of tents, culinary smells, and cultural sounds for the upcoming Smithsonian Folklife Festival that communities in San Antonio and East Lansing begin to undergo similar transformations.

A member of the Odessa Chuck Wagon Gang makes chili at the 1968 Festival of American Folklife

This summer in San Antonio, the Texas Folklife Festival will hold its 40th festival. But such anniversaries cannot be celebrated without the key aspirations of a visionary. In 1968, the Smithsonian invited the Institute of Texan Cultures to arrange programs for the second Festival of American Folklife. The ITC Exhibitions Coordinator, O.T. Baker, coordinator of the Texas exhibit in Washington, returned home with big plans—to replicate a similar event celebrating the cultural heritage of Texas in San Antonio.  The wheels were set in motion. The concept of creating a festival that brought together different ethnic groups to celebrate and share their traditions was ingenious. Proceeds from the event would be given back to the participating cultures so the customs would continue to stay alive and be passed on through the generations. And, most importantly, the event’s focus directly correlated to the mission of the Institute of Texan Cultures. O.T. Baker’s leadership and dedication came to fruition from September 7-10, 1972, when the first Texas Folklife Festival was held on the grounds of the Institute in HemisFair Park.

Approximately 20 years later, a similar story played out in Michigan. As part of Michigan’s 1987 sesquicentennial celebration of statehood, the Michigan State University Museum staff worked closely with the Smithsonian Institution to present Michigan’s cultural traditions at the annual Festival of American Folklife. Through presentations by cooks, storytellers, musicians, craftspeople and others who represented the state’s diverse regional, ethnic, and occupational heritage, more than a million visitors to the National Mall were introduced to Michigan folklife. The staff then brought the festival program to East Lansing as the centerpiece of the first Michigan Festival – a showcase of the state’s performing and creative arts. Renamed the Festival of Michigan Folklife (FMF), the event became the largest annual exhibition of the state’s traditional culture. Over its history, the Festival of Michigan Folklife has provided a platform for the presentation of more than 1,400 artists—the vast majority had never been presented by any other arts organization in the state.

Today, the partnerships with the Smithsonian Institution are still evolving and flourishing. Last year, the Texas Folklife Festival featured the Smithsonian Folkways Grammy award winning group, Los Texmaniacs and Michigan State University Museum staff continues to work with the Smithsonian to develop new programs for the Great Lakes Folk Festival.



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