SITES’ quarterly corner


 Spring has sprung here in Washington, DC and we can’t help being drawn outside to experience the sights, scents, and sounds of nature. But you can bring nature indoors for your visitors through a selection of SITES exhibitions that explore our natural surroundings.

Farmers, Warriors, Builders: The Hidden Life of Ants

What we normally think of as pests are actually highly organized and industrious creatures. Learn about ant behaviors in this fun and informative exhibition featuring macro photographs, a cast of an ant nest, and a touchable ant model. A highly popular exhibition developed by the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, The Hidden Life of Ants will soon embark on a national tour.

Contact: Minnie Micu Russell | 202.633.3160 |

Snow-covered ponderosa pine, North Rim.  Photo by Jack Dykinga.

Snow-covered ponderosa pine, North Rim. Photo by Jack Dykinga.

Lasting Light: 125 Years of Grand Canyon Photography

Ever been to the Grand Canyon? If not, you can still behold the majesty of this great American landmark through this exhibition of contemporary and archival photographs.

Contact: Ed Liskey | 202.633.3142 |

Green Revolution

How can your visitors be more eco-friendly and what impact would such actions have on the environment? This unique exhibition is both “green” in content and delivery – we provide the design files, graphics and fabrication plans, and YOU build the exhibit. SITES thereby reduces its carbon footprint and YOU get to reduce, reuse and recycle materials from old exhibits.

Contact: Shavonne Harding | 202.633.3138 |

Transitions: Photographs by Robert Creamer

Photographer Robert Creamer used a flatbed scanner as his camera in this exhibition of large-scale images, revealing flowers and natural specimens in striking detail and depth. Only one booking period is left, so don’t miss out! Available June 12 – August 22, 2010.

Contact:  Ed Liskey | 202.633.3142 |

The White House Garden

You’ve probably read about First Lady Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden on the South Lawn, but there’s so much more history to America’s oldest continuously landscaped garden. Learn about the development of these grounds from the 1790s to the present through reproductions of historic and contemporary photographs, maps, and correspondence.

Contact: Minnie Micu Russell | 202.633.3160 |

Rock the Green Revolution gives visitors helpful tips for how they can reduce their carbon footprints.



how will you commemorate the Civil War’s 150th anniversary?


Winslow Homer's 1862 Study of a Drummer, in the collection of the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

Here at Affiliations, we’ve been hearing about all kinds of plans to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.   Thinking about borrowing artifacts?  Looking for a speaker for a conference or public program?  Wonder what kinds of exhibitions other museums are organizing?   Here’s what we’ve heard so far from inside the Smithsonian and around the Affiliate network.


For the Smithsonian, the best and first stop to view the vast and manifold collections on this topic is the Civil War@Smithsonian website.  There, artifacts from several Smithsonian museums are grouped under such topics as Slavery & Abolition, Soldiering, Life & Culture, Leaders and Abraham Lincoln, among others.  (The site even talks about the various ways that the Smithsonian itself was involved in the Civil War.) 


And speaking of Lincoln, you’ll find a treasure trove of resources (and possible speakers) at the Lincoln Online Conference site, sponsored by the Center for Education and Museum Studies.   Here, Smithsonian scholars discuss a wide range of issues related to our 16th President from Lincoln’s Air Force to Mathew Brady’s photographs. 


For even more ideas on programming or group tour itineraries, turn to the Smithsonian Associates’ Civil War Studies site.  You can also sign up here for the Civil War Studies enewsletter for up-to-date program information and original essays exploring all facets of the War.  Want to hear about the largest stash of money ever discovered?   Invite American History numismatics curator Richard Doty to talk to your audiences about confederate currency, and show a few examples from our collection.


If you’re an art museum, don’t despair – you might be interested in what the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum is planning to commemorate the War.  Better Angels of Our Nature: Art During the Civil War and Reconstruction will examine the impact of the Civil War and its aftermath on visual arts in America.   Information on commemorative exhibitions at the Portrait Gallery will be posted soon so watch out for that.


And how about in Affiliateland?  Many Affiliates are already planning commemorations of their own.  Here are some of the plans we’ve heard about so far:


–          the Frazier International History Museum (Louisville, KY) is planning a Civil War symposium, update to its permanent exhibition, & a traveling show called My Brother My Enemy

–          the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar (Richmond, VA) is partnering with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Alabama) on a 2011 Civil War Conference

–          the American Textile History Museum (Lowell, MA) is organizing a traveling exhibition on Civil War textiles

–          the Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, PA) will be one of three sites to host a major Civil War exhibition and will produce two publications on photography and the role of African Americans in the Civil War, as part of PA 150,  a major statewide commemoration  

–          the African American Museum in Philadelphia (PA) has already opened the Audacious Freedoms exhibition which explores the Underground Railroad, African American soldiers in the Civil War, and other topics

–          B & O Museum (Baltimore, MD) is planning a Civil War Railroading exhibition and symposium.


What are you planning?  Leave us a comment and let us know.

affiliates in the news: week of march 15

Congratulations to these Affiliates making headlines this week!

Guests in Ecosystems at the California Science Center. Photo by: California Science Center

California Science Center (Los Angeles, CA)
Exploring the world’s ecosystems in the California Science Center’s new wing

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Raleigh, NC)
SECU Members Help Bring NC’s Natural Beauty to Students Across the State!

The Frost Art Museum at Florida International University (Miami, FL)
The Frost Art Museum to Unveil Knight Foundation Virtual Gallery

Arts Council for Long Beach (Long Beach, CA)
Artistic Creation Blossoms In Vacant Lots


Bittersweet Harvest at Mexican Heritage Plaza

Bittersweet Harvest at Mexican Heritage Plaza. Photo by Laura Hansen

Mexican Heritage Plaza (San Jose, CA)
Bittersweet Harvest: the Smithsonian’s Bracero Exhibit at Mexican Heritage Plaza

Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA)
Plimoth Plantation parades into a new season

Sculptures Available from NMAH

Stephen Hansen Sculptures Available to Affiliates from the National Museum of American History


One of the former sculptures in the Information Age exhibition, available for Affiliate adoption.

One of the sculptures in the former Information Age exhibition, available for Affiliate adoption.

The Information Age might seem like too serious a topic to loan itself to humor, but this is what happened when the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History commissioned artist Stephen Hansen to design the entrance to its path breaking exhibition in 1990. Hansen’s take on how “new technologies” were overtaking our lives, resulted in a rotating tableau of nearly life-sized sculptures caught in moments of whimsy, anger, and existential befuddlement.  Since that time Hansen’s reputation has skyrocketed and his works have been displayed in museums, galleries, and embassies around the world.


These sculptures, all made out of papier-mâché, are one-of-a-kind and are available, through transfer of ownership, individually or ensemble as shown in these pictures.  The receiving Affiliate will be responsible for arranging pickup from the National Museum of American History and shipping.  The sculptures come uncrated.


Enliven your space with artistry that appeals to all and reminds us to laugh as we plod our way through  technology-driven lives.  Contact your National Outreach Manager at for further information.




affiliates in the news: week of march 8

 Congratulations to these Affiliates making headlines this week!


Morris Museum of Art (Augusta, GA)
Much-Anticipated Reopening of the Morris Museum of Art

Morris Museum of Art holds grand reopening 

Arab American National Museum(Dearborn, MI)
Dearborn: Discover a Muslim welcome

California Science Center (Los Angeles, CA)
California Science Center Opens New Ecosystems Experience

Agua Caliente Cultural Museum (Palm Springs, CA)
Native American film fest on tap

Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
Portrait Gallery Recalls Neighborhood Progress

affiliates in the news: week of march 1

Rubin Museum of Art (New York, NY)
New York’s famed Rubin Museum exhibiting Hindu artifacts

Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, PA)
Washington exhibit a display with some bite

Museum of Latin American Art (Long Beach, CA)
Three Long Beach museums receive Getty Foundation grants for So Cal collaborative art project
Long Beach Art Museums To Participate In Getty Exhibit
Long Beach Art Museum, MoLAA, CSULB museum get Getty grants

National Museum of American Jewish History (Philadelphia, PA)Jewish Museum Nears Completion on Independence Mall

Archives of the History of American Psychology (Akron, OH)Wallbreaking’ begins renovation to Psychology Archives’ new home