What’s Coming Up in Affiliateland in October?

PANAMA is in DC!
Museo del Canal Interocánico de Panamá and the Smithsonian Latino Center collaborate on programming, including the Panamanian Passages exhibition, opening at SI’s International Gallery on 10.5.
10.1-9 – The Tremendous Encounter puppet show is presented in SI’s Discovery Theater.
10.15 – The Latino Center’s annual gala celebrates Panama.
10.16 – Interpreting 500 Years of Panamanian History panel at the DC Historical Society.

MONTANA: Smithsonian historian Michael J. Neufeld lectures on his book Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, 10.1.

MICHIGAN: Oud virtuoso Rahim AlHaj, Smithsonian Folkways recording artist and three-time Grammy nominee, presents a concert at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, 10.1.

NEBRASKA: Smithsonian Teachers Night at the Durham Museum in Omaha, 10.9. SITES’ American Letterpress: The Art of Hatch Show Print opens, 10.30.

TEXAS: The Women’s Museum: An Institute for the Future in Dallas will host an opening reception for their Leadership America Program at the Smithsonian’s African Art Museum in Washington, 10.11.

MARYLAND: The B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore celebrates their 10th anniversary as a Smithsonian Affiliate, 10.15.

CONNECTICUT: Dwight Blocker Bowers, curator at the National Museum of American History, gives a lecture about his forthcoming book on the Museum’s puppet collection at Hunt Hill Farm in New Milford, 10.17.

October ’09 Affiliate Kudos!

In these tough economic times, it’s nice to see some bright spots.

Funding successes

The Institute for Museum and Library Services awarded the American Jazz Museum (Kansas City, MO) a $40,000 grant to conduct an internship program for the Baker Film Collection exhibit.

 The National World War II Museum (New Orleans, LA) received a $5.5 million gift from the T.G. Solomon family for the museum’s capital expansion campaign.  The Museum’s theater will be named the Solomon Victory Theater.

The District of Columbia’s 2010 budget passed with $1 million earmarked for the Historical Society of Washington to support the development of exhibitions.

Affiliate staff news

Anne McCudden, Director, of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum (Clewiston, FL) was elected as a council member at the American Association for State and Local History.

Elaine Nichols, former Curator of History at the South Carolina State Museum (Columbia, SC), accepted a new position as Supervisory Museum Curator with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Welcome to D.C. Elaine! 

Dr. David Cowen was named President and CEO of the Museum of American Finance. (New York, NY)

Do you have kudos to share?
Leave a comment here or send us your news. Here’s what qualifies:

1) New grants or recent funding successes
2) Affiliate staff serving on a national association board or panel
3) New executive director at an Affiliate
4) Staff moving to/from the Smithsonian and an Affiliate

Say hello to our new Affiliates


A look at the interior of the Hiller Aviation Museum

 This summer, Smithsonian Affiliations was pleased to welcome three new organizations to its network of 165 Affiliate partners in 41 states, D.C., Panama and Puerto Rico. Here’s a chance to get to know them a little more– 

Hiller Aviation Museum (San Carlos, CA)

Ever heard of the Black Diamond? No, it’s not a sparkling gemstone, but an airplane built by a couple of shipyard buddies in 1910. After a successful flight in 1912, the Diamond was crated and stored until 1930 when the Yuba College Aeronautical School fixed it up and displayed the airplane at the Oakland Airport. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum acquired it in 1948, before subsequently loaning it to the Hiller Aviation Museum for restoration. Visitors to the Hiller today can experience a piece of the Smithsonian, and America’s aviation history. Through unique aircraft collections, exhibits, and programs, the museum provides a stimulating environment with multiple ways for visitors to experience the adventure and innovation of flight and to use aviation as a portal for exploring science, history, and technology. Take a virtual walkthrough of the Hiller Aviation Museum and find out more about the Black Diamond restoration project!

Tellus: Northwest Georgia Science Museum   (Cartersville, GA)

tellusThis mining museum located just north of Atlanta just got an $18 million facelift. The Tellus: Northwest Georgia Science museum is a new version of the old museum. In fact, the old museum – all 9,000 square feet of it – could fit into just one of its four new galleries that make up the 120,000 square foot museum today. The Tellus is a museum on a mission to bring the latest research and information on current science topics to visitors from Atlanta to Chattanooga. Only recently announcing their Affiliation with the Smithsonian, the Tellus hopes to bring more artifacts to its new space through the Affiliations program and enhance their already eye-popping collection of minerals, rocks, gems and fossil specimens, and objects related to Georgia’s rich mining heritage in Cartersville and Bartow County. The museum also has artifacts related to science in motion with motorized vehicles and a recent library in the museum space.

Georgia Aquarium   (Atlanta, GA)

Whale sharks, belugas, and rays. oh my! Those are just a few of more than 100,000 animals from 500+ species that can be found at the Georgia Aquarium. Looking for mystery? Visitors to the aquarium can see a giant squid specimen, on loan from the National Museum of Natural History. Recently, the VP of Guest Services at the aquarium visited NMNH and met with the Ocean Hall educators and curators to talk about collaboration ideas in the future. And, two Affiliations team members recently made the trip from Washington, D.C., to the aquarium and documented it in a recent blog. Didn’t get a chance to see it? Click here to read about their adventure and become a fan of Smithsonian in your Neighborhood, our Facebook page, to see the photo album.


Sounds of Iraq in Michigan

Oud virtuoso records for Smithsonian Folkways

Oud virtuoso records for Smithsonian Folkways

If you happen to be in the Detroit area on October 1, be sure to stop in at our Affiliate, the Arab American National Museum (AANM) in nearby Dearborn, to hear Smithsonian Folkways, Grammy-nominated, oud virtuoso Rahim Alhaj.  Alhaj performs in conjunction with the opening of the museum’s new Connecting Communities exhibition and as part of the ongoing Global Thursdays performing arts series.

Alhaj is considered one of the world’s masters of the oud, a pear-shaped, stringed instrument, often seen as the predecessor of the western lute.  Born in Iraq, Alhaj studied at the prestigious Baghdad Conservatory of Fine Arts, under the renowned Munir Bashir.  His opposition to the rule of Sadadam Hussein led to imprisonment and thirteen years of exile in Jordan and Syria before coming to the United States in 2000 under a UN refugee resettlement program. Now a resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Alhaj teaches, composes, and maintains an active performing schedule throughout North America and around the world.

The Smithsonian Folkways recording When the Soul is Settled: Music of Iraq, featuring Alhaj and Lebanese-born percussionist Souhail Kaspar, received a 2008 Grammy nomination in “The Best Traditional World Music Album” category.  The Los Angeles Times called the album “a convincing affirmation of an embattled area of the world,” and another critic likened Alhaj’s oud playing to “god breathing life into clay.”

AANM was established to bring the voices and faces of Arab Americans to mainstream audiences, and works to dispel misconceptions about Arab Americans and other minorities. Opened in 2005, the museum has received widespread acclaim for its architecture, exhibitions, and educational programming.

We look forward to the upcoming event when the museum and the musician join forces for what guarantees to be an unforgettable evening.

Smithsonian Folkways, the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution offers Affiliates savings on recordings at www.folkways.si.edu. Enter code SIAFFILIATE during checkout and save 10% on any purchase. From the Oud mastery of Rahim AlHaj and other international music to traditional American folk music from Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, and children’s favorites by Ella Jenkins and Elizabeth Mitchell, Smithsonian Folkways presents a world of sound that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Dive into Deep Space

A glimpse at the Black Holes exhibition.

a glimpse into the Black Holes exhibition

Black holes are regions in space with gravity so powerful that nothing can escape, and where time and space are warped beyond our understanding. A new traveling exhibition from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics will guide visitors on a journey to the edge of these strange objects to discover how the latest research is turning science fiction into fact, challenging our notions of space and time in the process.

Created by educators and scientists at the Center for Astrophysics (CfA), Black Holes: Space Warps & Time Twists is an exploration of the most mysterious and powerful objects in the universe. It opened at the Boston Museum of Science, and is now available to travel.

Project director Mary Dussault explains, “In this exhibition, we wanted to use the inherent fascination of black holes as a compelling vehicle to engage museum visitors in the larger story of how scientific discovery works–and how science is connected to human curiosity, imagination and culture.”

The interactive stations in the 2,500-square-foot exhibition address a number of questions:

    What is a black hole?
    Where are they?
    How do we find black holes if they are really black?
    What would happen if you were sucked into one?

One station allows visitors to experience their own black hole adventure. Using one of three “excursion pods,” visitors will embark on a fantasy “adventure vacation” to the black hole at the center of our own galaxy. As they make their way toward this “deep space dive,” travelers explore the phenomena around the black hole, including warped space, the slowing of time, and the dangerous magnetic fields and radiation that could leave them stranded on their cosmic adventure.

The exhibition is being traveled by the Association of Science – Technology Centers, and is available to Smithsonian Affiliates at the members’ price. Affiliates also receive exclusive access to CfA staff, including a special lecture from a Smithsonian scientist working with the Chandra X-ray Observatory (the world’s best black hole hunting machine); and the opportunity to collaborate with educators from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to offer a special teacher workshop to their local school-based audiences, among other programming. 

Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is a joint collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. CfA scientists, organized into six research divisions, study the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe.

Share and Share Alike

This morning I had the pleasure of talking about the Affiliations program with staff from two Affiliates, the Heinz History Center and the B & O Railroad Museum.  But we weren’t talking about the Smithsonian’s Affiliations program – we were talking about theirs.


Both the Heinz History Center and the B & O Museum have created Affiliate programs, which were the topic of a panel discussion today entitled “Share and Share Alike” at the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and Historical Association’s annual meeting in Gettysburg.  Their programs are structured very differently, which made for an interesting compare and contrast in regard to costs, benefits and challenges.  But we discovered many commonalities too.

The Heinz Center’s Affiliate Program (HCAP) encompasses historical societies, libraries, museums, even cemeteries across Western Pennsylvania.  Nearly 100 organizations have affiliated with the History Center, seeking help and advice on issues ranging from cleaning metal objects to writing label copy.

The B & O Railroad Museum’s program is more formal and structured, a tiered approach with escalating benefits that include discounts on branded retail items and reduced admission for members.  Contrary to expectations, the B & O’s affiliates are not limited to other railroad museums; it also attracts historical societies with ties to the railroad industry in West Virginia and Maryland.

But both programs have alot in common.  It takes the entire staff of both museums to make the program work, and staff members are committed to sharing their expertise and providing a range of services to their affiliate networks.  They agree that a primary difference between their Affiliate programs and other types of associations or memberships (AASLH or AAM for example), is the opportunity to share artifacts.  Truly, nothing can replace the power of the real thing, as every museum professional knows.  hcaptree

We were fortunate to have a staff member from one of the Heinz Center’s Affiliates in the audience, who provided an insight that I’m confident B & O’s Affiliates share.  More than anything, she appreciated the access to personalized, customized, one-to-one mentoring available through the program.  Nothing can replace the power of that kind of relationship either.