affiliates at the folklife festival

In addition to Mexico and Asian Pacific Americans, this year’s Folklife Festival features ‘Smithsonian Inside Out’ – a section devoted to explaining the inner workings of the Institution.  Tents are dedicated to work in our strategic  grand challenges, how we make exhibits and tend our grounds, our research activities around the globe, and more.

Affiliates are playing an important role in demonstrating to Festival visitors how the Smithsonian reaches audiences well beyond Washington.  The Littleton Historical Museum in Colorado and the Historic Arkansas Museum are featured on giant festival maps about the Smithsonian’s work outside D.C.  Icons for Affiliates that show the breadth of the network are highlighted as well.

The B & O Railroad Museum‘s executive director Courtney Wilson will be on the Festival’s discussion stage on July 1 with Bill Withuhn, curator emeritus at the National Museum of American History.  They’ll be discussing our decade of collaboration, and the numerous Smithsonian artifacts on view in Baltimore as a result of our relationship.

On July 3, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture will host a table at the Festival to demonstrate the fruits of their affiliation, such as hosting several major SITES exhibitions, artifact loans from the new National Museum of African American History, and sharing expertise with a range of Smithsonian scholars.

Throughout the Festival, Affiliations staff have been engaged in explaining outreach efforts to visitors.  National Outreach Manager Alma Douglas took to the discussion stage on June 27 to describe the Affiliations Program.  Other staff members are manning the “Ask the Smithsonian” tent, finding out about visitors’ hometowns and encouraging them to visit their local Affiliates.  It’s great to be able to tell Festival visitors from across the country about our extended family of Affiliates, and the Smithsonian experience they can have, even  in their own backyards.

thanks for a wonderful conference!

Affiliations Director, Harold Closter, greeting conference guests at the Welcome Reception at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

We were so delighted that so many of you were able to join us for this year’s Annual National Conference.  The spirit of friendship permeated our gathering as did the passion and commitment that you bring to our profession.  We were sorry that some of you were unable to attend, but know that you were with us in thought, and that we’ll see you next year, if not sooner.

Thank you for your many kind words of praise.  We try hard to build a conference that offers the right mix of intellectual challenge, workshops on cutting edge topics, new ways of engaging the Smithsonian, and enjoyable networking opportunities.  We hope our blend worked for you, but if not, let us know so we can try something different next year.

Conference attendees brainstorming with Smithsonian experts at the "Grand Challenges" roundtables.

This year we had more Affiliate presenters and more Smithsonian participants than ever before.  We are grateful to all of you for taking the time to prepare and share your experiences.  They were informative, enlightening, and ever indicative of the impact that we create together through Smithsonian Affiliations.  I am confident that everyone left with a suitcase full of new ideas; we can’t wait to begin unpacking.

Wish we all of you a wonderful summer, certainly one not as hot as in Washington, and continued success in serving your communities.  We are proud to be your partners!

Harold A. Closter

PS- Missed something at the conference?  Click on these links to review Conference Presentations, browse the Conference Guidebook, and enjoy photos from all three days of activities.

Have ideas for next year? Please email Elizabeth Bugbee with ideas for topics YOU want to learn about next year!

kudos, affiliates! july 2010

Despite the economy, there are many bright spots to celebrate in Affiliateland this month.  Great job everyone!

Adler Planetarium (Chicago, Illinois) received a $40,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to develop a planning project leading to recommendations for improving the storage of a collection of artifacts related to the history of astronomy, maritime history, and related fields. 

Buffalo Bill Historical Center (Cody, Wyoming) was awarded a $200,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to begin preparation of a thematic, illustrated digital edition of the papers of Buffalo Bill Cody, a symbol of the American West in the popular imagination. BBHC was also granted $10,250 from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund to develop the exhibition “Arapaho Journey: Photographs and Stories from the Wind River Reservation.” 

The Birthplace of Country Music Alliance (Bristol, Tennessee) is set to receive $25,000 from the Tennessee Arts Commission.

Raices Latin Music Museum (New York, NY) will receive a $3,000 grant from IMLS’ American Heritage Preservation Grants to preserve an iconic straw boater hat worn by world-famous Cuban-American musician and bandleader, Desi Arnaz.

The Historical Society of Washington, DC has received a $3,000 grant from IMLS’ American Heritage Preservation Grant program to rehouse, preserve and make accessible 3,600 oversized photographs from the Capital Photo Service Collection of 1957-2000.

The Museum of Appalachia (Norris, Tennessee) received a $25,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to install a new, energy-efficient climate control system in the Museum’s Hall of Fame.

Leon Levy Foundation Awards an additional $860,092 grant to The Center for Jewish History (New York, New York)  for Preservation of Archival Materials

Three Smithsonian Affiliates were awarded funds through the Smithsonian Community Grant program: 

Sonoma County Museum (Santa Rosa, California) was awarded $5,000 to fund a family day, oral history day, and panel discussion related to the themes of Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964.

Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center (Mashantucket, Connecticut) was awarded $4,864 to fund two speakers and programming advertisement related to the themes of Native Words, Native Warriors.

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, Alabama) was awarded $5,000 to fund a book signing, photography workshop, public program, teacher workshop, and programming advertisement related to the themes of Let Your Motto Be Resistance.

Celebrating Our Tenth Anniversary with the Japanese American National Museum

The American Association of Museum’s annual convention, this year in Los Angeles, provided us with the perfect opportunity to celebrate the tenth anniversary of our Smithsonian affiliation with the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), also celebrating its 25th anniversary.  On May 26, Smithsonian and Affiliate staff gathered at this inspiring museum to toast these special milestones. 

JANM President and CEO Akemi Kikumura Yano and Affiliations director Harold Closter with the Smithsonian Castle plaque, commemorating 10 years of affiliation.

Here are some excerpts from the gracious talk given by Akemi Kikumura Yano, JANM President and CEO:

“This year the Japanese American National Museum is celebrating its 25th Anniversary since its incorporation in 1985.  During that period, we have managed to renovate the former Buddhist temple building across our courtyard, open this Pavilion which allows us to house our collection, and expand again with our National Center for the Preservation of Democracy.”

“All along the way, our Museum has had a relationship with the Smithsonian.  When the Smithsonian was organizing its show, A More Perfect Union in 1987, our staff were consulted and contributed to that important exhibition on the Constitutional issues involved in the government’s mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.   A More Perfect Union ended up being one of the most popular exhibitions at the National Museum of American History and it was up for more than 10 years.”

“As the Japanese American National Museum developed, so did its relationship with the Smithsonian.  One of the proudest  moments for our community was when our exhibition, From Bento to Mixed Plate:  Americans of Japanese Ancestry in Multicultural Hawai’I was installed at the Smithsonian in 1999. “

“We were also very proud to host a number of Smithsonian-created exhibitions here at our museum in Los Angeles.  In 2004, Isamu Noguchi and Modern Japanese Ceramics, organized by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery was a major critical success at our museum.  In the same year we hosted the National Museum of American History’s September 11:  Bearing Witness to History.  In 2005, we borrowed an exhibition from the Sackler Gallery titled, Japan After Perry:  Views of Yokohama and Meiji Japan.”

“The collaborative partnerships that the Affiliates program has created with us have been very rewarding indeed.  It’s a partnership based on mutual interest – that is, to broaden and share perspectives on history, culture, and the arts, and from our Museum’s point of view, through the Japanese American experience.”

“This year marks our 10-year anniversary as a Smithsonian Affiliate.  The Japanese American National Museums feels fortunate to be part of the Smithsonian family.  We look forward to another 10 years as a Smithsonian Affiliate.”

Harold A. Closter
Smithsonian Affiliations