Our Journeys Our Stories in New York

Our Journeys at LIM Many thanks to Joshua Ruff, History Curator and Betsy Radecki, Educator, from the Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages in Stony Brook, NY for this post.  This is the first of what we hope will be many! guest authored posts from Affiliates about Smithsonian experiences at their sites.

                                          The Long Island Museum is thrilled to be hosting the SITES exhibit Our Journeys/Our Stories:  Portraits of Latino Achievement, through June 8.  We opened the exhibit with a gala reception attended by guests from the Smithsonian and sponsor Ford Motor Company along with museum members and local political and social leaders.  Guests toured the exhibit, feasted on fantastic ethnic food and listened to a Uruguayan musical ensemble. 

One of the things we often try to do with traveling exhibits is to add a local dimension or theme.  In Our Journeys, we have added three Long Island Latino achievers and attempted to mirror all of the technical features of the rest of the exhibit – the same graphic design, same framing/matting – to make our section seem to fit seamlessly into the larger whole.  This can be a little more difficult than it seems at first – the colors and finish of the panels from different graphic designers are subtly different, for example – but it came out great and SITES helped us with all the translations.

Latino teacher workshopOn March 18, 40 teachers attended a staff development      workshop and brainstormed lesson plans to use both in the classroom and at the exhibit.   During the coming months the teachers will be bringing nearly 2000 students to the exhibit.  We are very excited about the May 4 free family festival, which will include Latino foods, music, stories and dance, all provided by artists and vendors from the local community. In order to promote the festival, we are partnering with a local library to make April “Hispanic Heritage Month” and are sponsoring both a morning storytelling session for children and an evening music      program for families at the library. To make it easier for visitors to get to the museum, we have arranged to provide buses from area libraries and service organizations.  The festival will also include tours of the exhibit and a chance for families to record their own journeys through videotaped interviews.

I had the pleasure of attending the opening, and was also so impressed upon meeting the many members of the Museum’s “Local Committee of Honor.” Latinos from all sectors of the community including nonprofit health organizations, foreign language teachers, businesspeople and more, celebrated with the Museum and brought the show’s message to the community at large.  Congratulations all!

If you have a Smithsonian experience you’d like to share with other Affiliates, let us know!! 

The Smithsonian names a new Secretary

Secretary-elect Clough  On Saturday, the Regents of the Smithsonian voted unanimously for the 12th Secretary, Dr. G. Wayne Clough. (pronounced cluff)  With a PhD in civil engineering, Clough comes to SI from his post as president of Georgia Tech University.  While there, he has increased enrollment and research expenditures dramatically, overseen the expansion of campuses all over the world, and led two major capital campaigns.  Georgia Tech is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 10 public research universities.  Read more of his bio in this press release.

This experience will relate well to the breadth and complexity of the Smithsonian, as Clough mentioned in his press conference following the announcement.

Clough will start at the Smithsonian on July 1.  We so look forward to introducing him to Affiliates!


butterfly  Smithsonian staff are all aflutter (pun intended) about the new Butterfly Pavilion at the National Museum of Natural History.  We’re really excited about sharing this amazing new space with Affiliates this summer at the conference.  

Officially titled “Butterflies and Plants: Partners in Evolution,” the accompanying exhibition on co-evolution paves the way for the lush tropical experience that is the pavilion itself.  Museum staff provide a handy pictorial guide to the butterflies inside, and it’s very easy for visitors to get up close and personal… often, a butterfly will land on a shoulder or hand!  More importantly, visitors can see the interrelationship between the insects and plants, observing butterflies’ & their long tongues (proboscis) sucking out nectar or juice from the pieces of fruit available, before going on to pollinate other plants.     

The butterflies arrive in Washington in their cocoons (sorry, chrysalides) from farms around the world, and are displayed in a case inside the pavilion.  Watching them emerge is another cool part of the experience, as is the inspection all visitors go through upon leaving, to make sure no “hitchhikers” leave the space.  It’s sure to be a not-to-be-missed Washington experience, so sign up now!  or, click here for more pics.  Enjoy! 

Interior of pavilion    Closeup    Blue butterfly       



Here’s a cool new announcement –

Click  The Smithsonian Photography Initiative is launching CLICK! PHOTOGRAPHY CHANGES EVERYTHING, an interdisciplinary, Web-based forum at https://www.click.si.edu/.

Using images drawn from the extraordinary collections of Smithsonian photography, CLICK! reminds us about the power of photography to change all aspects of our world. This new site will be publicly announced on March 14, 2008 – be one of the first to view it now!

Even better, during the first phase of CLICK! the Smithsonian Photography Initiative and guest curator Marvin Heiferman will invite as many as 100 contributors from both in and outside the Smithsonian to muse on the ways in which photography has changed the history, progress and practice of our experience. Their early contributions will serve as a springboard for the second phase, which launches in fall 2008 and will include interactive options for public participation. 

How is this useful to Affiliates? 

Like the library system at the Smithsonian, photographic collections are sprinkled throughout various units.  The Photography Initiative’s sites help to consolidate the images themselves for easier searching, and then point you to exactly the right person to ask about borrowing the image, or obtaining a reproduction.  The sites may also inspire you to think about the ways you share your photography collections and encourage visitor participation.

btw – that’s a Kodak Snapshot of Woman In Blue Dress By Car, 1959, in the American History’s collection.  Click on it to see a bigger version – I promise it’s worth it.