Goodbye Texas. Hello New York! The 10,000 Springs Pavilion is on the move

Special thanks to Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute Conservator Don Williams for this guest post.

Two weeks ago found me in Irving, Texas, along with Groopsters Bob Klein and Bill Ferguson from the Professional Refinisher’s Group (aka “Groop”), dismantling the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion at Smithsonian Affiliate, Irving Arts Center.  We’re packing it for travel to its next temporary home in Flushing, NY, at Affiliate, Flushing Town Hall. Thus far Groop members have donated over 75 man-days toward the installation and de-installation of the exhibit, which could not be accomplished otherwise. Here’s a peek at the de-installation:

The setting for the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion in the lobby of the Irving Arts Center was truly spectacular, exposing the magnificent artifact to tens of thousands of patrons.

Bill (l) and Bob (r) were real troopers. This was Bill's second rodeo with me, and Bob's fifth(!).

We were joined in our endeavor by the skilled and burly crew for the Irving Arts Center when it came time to handle the really heavy and awkward stuff.

The building crew for the Irving Arts Center was an amazingly helpful and professional group. The gigantic roof portions had to be hand carried a few hundred feet through the building to get reunited with the crates.

Not too surprisingly, it comes apart much faster than it goes together.

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

Bill got the honors this time of removing the impossibly ornate carved finial.

All packed up with somewhere to go.

 The project went smoothly and quickly.  I had allotted three full days of work, but we were done by late  afternoon of day two. It was truly a delight to spend productive time with these two Groop brothers and the fellowship it entailed.

Next stop is Flushing, New York, where the local logistics will require a sunrise Sunday beginning.  The exhibit will open October 16, 2010.

About the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion
The structure is a 1 to 5 model of the celebrated and intricate classic Chinese pavilion that stands within the Forbidden City in the heart of Beijing. The model of the pavilion was gifted to the Smithsonian by Dr. Chan Laiwa and the China Red Sandalwood Museum in Beijing. Dr. Chan founded the museum to preserve and perpetuate the ancient Chinese art of red sandalwood carving.

Made by Chinese artisans using traditional Chinese carving and fine furniture techniques, the model captures the beauty of the original pavilion, and is an outstanding example of traditional Chinese carving. Artisans at the China Red Sandalwood Museum constructed this model of red sandalwood, treasured for its dark glossy color and musty floral fragrance. No nails are used; the entire structure is put together with mortise-and-tenon joinery. Currently, nearly 60 percent of red sandalwood carvers are women. Red sandalwood was highly prized in imperial China, and was used to create intricately carved furniture and decorative objects. Because of the demand for this wood, the tree nearly disappeared in China – along with the art of carving it.

The Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion is one of the 20 or so structures that are part of the private pleasure grounds for two dynasties of Chinese emperors. The Imperial Garden of the Forbidden City was a retreat for the emperor and his family allowing quiet contemplation of nature and communion with the spiritual world. 

SITES’ Quarterly Corner, August 2010

SITES' Hatch Show Print poster

We hate to bring it up, but with August upon us, summer will be over before you know it.  If you hosted a SITES exhibition this summer, we hope it exceeded your expectations, and we encourage you to begin planning for next summer NOW!  Summer is an ideal time to attract new or infrequent visitors such as students on summer break, camp groups, families looking for educational outings, seasonal residents and tourists.  And as host of a SITES exhibition, you’re sure to see an increase in community interest and support, great press coverage and opportunities for fantastic exhibit-related programs.  Here’s some exciting options for summer 2011 and beyond:

American Letterpress: The Art of Hatch Show Print
Whether an archived classic or a cutting-edge advertisement, a poster crafted by Nashville’s Hatch Show Print is a work of art steeped in the traditions of American graphic design that embraces both low and high art.
Available: 5/28/11 – 8/7/11

Beyond: Visions of Planetary Landscapes on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Photo credit: MOSI, Chicago

Beyond: Visions of Planetary Landscapes
Beyond features breathtaking, large-scale photographs of planets, moons and satellites in our solar system, from its inner rings to its outer reaches, collected during 40 years of robotic space missions.
Available 7/23/11 – 9/18/11

Always on the march, these army ants (Eciton burchellii) make temporary encampments for their roaming armies of up to 700,000 workers. They link their bodies together in chains and walls.

Farmers, Warriors, Builders: The Hidden Life of Ants
Learn about the amazingly human-like behaviors of ants in this fun and informative exhibition featuring large-scale macro photographs by noted entomologist Dr. Mark Moffett, a cast of an ant nest, and a touchable ant model.
Available 7/30/11 – 10/9/11

Skateboarder Blake Nelson shows off his high flying moves. (Photo credit: The Nelson Family)

Ramp It Up!  Skateboard Culture in Native America
Ramp It Up reveals the rich underground world and historical legacy of skateboarding in Native America, which combines demanding physical exertion with design, graphic art, filmmaking, and music. 
Available 7/14/12 – 9/9/12

by William H. Johnson

William H. Johnson: An American Modern
This exhibition of 20 original expressionist and vernacular landscapes, still life paintings, and portraits explores the intricate layers of Johnson’s diverse cultural perspective as an artist whose prolific career spanned decades, continents and genres.
Available 7/21/12 – 10/14/12


And if you can’t wait until next summer, these exhibitions are available immediately:

American Letterpress: The Art of the Hatch Show Print (available 11/27/10 – 2/6/11 and 2/26/11 – 5/8/11)

Beyond: Visions of Planetary Landscapes (available 12/4/10 – 1/30/11)

summer at the smithsonian

We’ve invited our recent Affiliate interns and visiting professionals to blog about their experiences in our Summer at the Smithsonian series beginning in August.  Shawn Pirelli, Smithsonian Affiliations intern partner from Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA) will kick us off, so check back soon! Here’s a taste of what each thought of their time at the Smithsonian: 

Affiliate Visiting Professionals 

Eric Stanley (left) spent two weeks at the National Museum of American History researching the process of developing and designing history exhibitions.

“It was my great pleasure to be introduced to many, many facets of creating exhibitions at NMAH. I met over thirty people and was able to learn something from each of them. The time I spent with them, each one knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and warmly receptive of my presence, was a tremendous benefit to me and my institution,” said Eric Stanley, Sonoma County Museum (Santa Rosa, CA). 

Chena Popper spent three weeks at the National Museum of Natural History with registrars and collections care experts.

“It was a great learning experience to be able to see the loan process from start to finish, from loan forms to insurance and shipping, arrangements to condition reporting. Then on the SDNHM side, I was able to assist with the receiving, condition reporting and installation of the pieces,” said Chena Popper, San Diego Natural History Museum (San Diego, CA). 

Lisa Falk (left) benefited from a 4-week, pan-institutional project focused on technology and Web 2.0 initiatives at the Smithsonian.

“My SI colleagues were inviting, open, and encouraging. Their work is inspiring and has given me many ideas and broadened my understanding of the possibilities and some of the difficulties in creating digital and face-to-face museum interactions. Back home, I look forward to sharing what I learned with my ASM colleagues and trying out some of the Smithsonian approaches,” said Lisa Falk, Arizona State Museum (Tucson, AZ).

Affiliations Intern Partners

Annette Shumway at the National Postal Museum working to digitize the Postmaster General Collection.

“Taking part in both of these projects has helped me understand the logistics behind coordinating loans and standards involved in collections’ imaging projects. I feel that much of the experience that I gained through this period will aid in the second portion of my internship which will involve initiating a collections digitization program,” said Annette Shumway, Smithsonian Affiliations Intern Partner at the Frost Art Museum at Florida International University (Miami, FL). 

Shawn Pirelli is wrapping up 10 weeks at the Smithsonian researching Thanksgiving traditions for a future exhibition.

“I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most revered curators and archivists in the world.  The Smithsonian is truly an untapped gold mine in historical records. With the help of the staff, I was able to uncover some of the most truly magnificent historical records that, during their time, helped shape and change the United States,” said Shawn Pirelli, Smithsonian Affiliations Intern Partner at Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA). 

David Kerr alternates his internship between the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian Affiliations

“My Smithsonian Affiliations internship has been incredibly advantageous. From handling and transcribing Teddy Roosevelt  letters to helping do research for an upcoming work on the Civil War to meeting with curators to discuss current exhibits and collections, my time has been very well spent, and my future as an academic or as a future employee can only benefit,” said David Kerr, Smithsonian Affiliations Intern Partner at the Frazier International History Museum (Louisville, KY). 

Smithsonian Institution Intern  

Juliana Walker (right) tests an interactive game at the National Zoo with Affiliate researcher, Lisa Falk.

“Under the direction of Harold Closter I was able to learn about the enormous positive impact the Smithsonian Affiliations Office has across the country. By researching museums in the states where Affiliates are not present, I hope my research may help extend the Affiliate network across even more,” said Juliana Walker, Junior at the State University of New York at Fredonia.

Don’t forget to visit our blog in August for stories from each of our interns and visiting professionals! Read first-hand how professional development opportunities at Smithsonian Affiliations can benefit your museum.  And keep checking back for application deadlines for 2011.

kudos Affiliates! august 2010

Such great news from Affiliateland.  Bravo to all!

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Raleigh, North Carolina) received $1.5 million grant from the GlaxoSmithKline Foundation to support health and science exhibits, educational programs and a hands-on micro-investigation laboratory in the Nature Research Center. 

The National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program announced it had awarded a $19,000 grant to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center (Mashantucket, Connecticut) to research details of the battles between colonial settlers and Pequot Indians at Fort Saybrook.  Saybrook is the earliest settlement in Connecticut, and the focal point of the Pequot War. 

The Shelly & Donald Rubin Foundation announced an exciting new collaboration between Baruch College and the Rubin Museum of Art (New York, New York) with a $200,000 grant, plus a commitment to make four additional $200,000 grants over the next four years for a total of $1 million dollars. Through its diverse collection of Himalayan and cultural art, the Rubin Museum will introduce rich art teachings into Baruch College coursework meant to prepare students for careers in business, government, the non-profit sector, and the arts. 

The Center for Jewish History (New York, New York) has received a $225,000 grant from the Vivian G. Prins Foundation to support Post-Doctoral fellowships for Emigrating Scholars, who seek permanent teaching and research positions in North America.  

Two Smithsonian Affiliates were awarded funds through The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) as part of the Museum Grants for African American History and Culture (AAHC) program:

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, Alabama) was awarded $129,830 for the project “Integration for Efficiency Technology Initiative” to improve its delivery of programs and services to its diverse audiences by enhancing staff capacity to effectively utilize technology.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati, Ohio) was awarded $66,096 for the project “The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center/Coca-Cola Foundation Museum Science Apprenticeship Program” that will go to support one new participant in this intensive program that combines on-the-job training and classroom instruction over a two-year period with the goal of providing the expertise needed to sustain a career in the museum field. 

Six Smithsonian Affiliates were awarded funds through The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)  as part of Museums for America (MFA) grants:

Arkansas Museum of Science and History ( Little Rock, Arkansas) received $150,000 for the creation of two new exhibitions “Tornado Alley Object Theater” and “Extreme Weather Channel” designed together to educate visitors on the causes, potential effects, and safety measures of tornados–an event familiar to the region.

Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, California) was awarded $137,806 to fund the “Xploration Lab” project, which will feature two iterations of a prototyping gallery and interactive exhibition designed to provide JANM with the opportunity to actively engage its audiences in the development and evaluation of interactive elements and programmatic content created for the museum’s new permanent exhibitions, which are currently in development and are slated to open in 2011 and 2013.

Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center (Mashantucket, Connecticut) received $144,051 for “Pequot Lives in the Early 20th Century: Exhibition and Multimedia Installation”, an exhibition consisting of a re-created Pequot reservation house from the early 1900s and a multimedia installation, “Almost Vanished,” that tells the story of the Pequot community between 1860 and 1940.

Frazier International History Museum (Louisville, Kentucky) will receive $150,000 to implement a traveling exhibition and programs on the Civil War, entitled “My Brother, My Enemy” looking at the divisions within Kentucky families and how the divided family became a metaphor for divisions in the state and across the nation.

American Textile History Museum (Lowell, Massachusetts) was awarded $116,343 to engage in a multiphase program, the Chace Project, to make its collections accessible to the broadest possible audience.

Ohr- O’Keefe Museum of Art (Biloxi, Mississippi)  was funded $133,143 to create “Art, Community, and Culture on the Mississippi Gulf Coast” an interpretive exhibition on the life and work of three significant figures who personify the museum’s mission to promote and preserve the cultural heritage of the Mississippi Gulf Coast: Biloxi master potter George Edgar Ohr (1857–1918), Biloxi master craftsman Pleasant Reed (1854–1936), and the new museum’s renowned architect Frank Gehry (b. 1929).

affiliates in the news: week of July 19

Congratulations to these Affiliates making headlines this week!

During a previous trip to Pinilla del Valle, Spain, Dr. Robert Feranec, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the New York State Museum, picks through small animal bones from sediment recovered from fossil caves. Photo courtesy of NYS Museum.

New York State Museum(Albany, NY)
A New York State Museum paleontologist has become the only scientist in the U.S. selected to participate in an all-expense paid research program in Spain that will enable him to investigate the effects of climate change on mammals over the last 2 million years. READ MORE

The New York State Museum’s curator of vertebrate paleontology has been chosen to participate in a three-month research program at the University of Madrid, Spain. He’s the only American scientist chosen this year: most participants come from the European Union. READ MORE

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Raleigh, NC)
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences introduced Margaret D. “Meg” Lowman as director of their new wing, the Nature Research Center. READ MORE

The Center for Jewish History (New York, NY)
The Center for Jewish History, the largest repository of the modern Jewish experience outside of Israel, has received a $225,000 grant from the Vivian G. Prins Foundation to support Post-Doctoral fellowships for Emigrating Scholars, who seek permanent teaching and research positions in North America. READ MORE

National Museum of American Jewish History (Philadelphia, PA)
Last month, New York media artist Ben Rubin got the go-ahead to produce an LED light sculpture to be placed atop the new National Museum of American Jewish History on Independence Mall, set to open in November.

WASP (photo courtesy of Texas Woman's University)

The Women’s Museum: An Institute for the Future (Dallas, TX)
The Women’s Museum’s Dreams of Flight Exhibit Opening Coincides with Legendary Pilot’s Birthday, Amelia Earhart. READ MORE

affiliates in the news: week of July 12

Congratulations to these Affiliates making headlines this week! 

The John E. Kushner Restoration Pavilion will consist of a build-out of the existing 940 Magazine St. warehouse.

National World War II Museum (New Orleans, LA)
For the past 10 years, visitors to the National World War II Museum have gazed upon such carefully restored artifacts as tanks, Jeeps and Higgins landing craft.By next spring, they should be able to watch restorers preparing those treasures for prime time…READ MORE

Frazier International History Museum (Louisville, KY)
WKU graduate student selected for prestigious Smithsonian internship…READ MORE 

MSU paleontologist Jack Horner and team arrive in August 2007 at a site on the Hell Creek Ranch to excavate a Triceratops (Photo by Lon Bolick)

Museum of the Rockies(Bozeman, MT)
MSU finds Triceratops, Torosaurus were different stages of one dinosaur… READ MORE

North Carolina Museum of Natural Science (Raleigh, NC)
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences on Tuesday introduced the director of its new Nature Research Center and accepted a $1.5 million gift to support the centerREAD MORE  

Conner Prairie (Fishers, IN)
Kids often hear “Look, don’t touch.” At Conner Prairie, families are encouraged to explore with all their senses…READ MORE

New York State Museum (Albany, NY)
A New York State Museum paleontologist has become the only scientist in the U.S. selected to participate in an all-expense paid research program in Spain that will enable him to investigate the effects of climate change on mammals over the last 2 million yearsREAD MORE 


Francis Koenig, founder of AnnMarie Garden, lived long enough to see the first permanent sculpture installed as he requested, a sculpture fountain dedicated to the oyster tongers. (Annmarie Garden, Baltimore Sun / July 14, 2010)

Annmarie Garden(Solomons, MD)
…Today, Annmarie Garden is a Southern Maryland gem – a woodland preserve dotted with art ranging from world-class sculptures to whimsical fairy houses created by staff…READ MORE