happy 10th anniversary College Park Aviation Museum!

Congratulations to the College Park Aviation Museum on their 10th anniversary as a Smithsonian Affiliate!

Berliner helicopter on view at the College Park Aviation Museum in Maryland

Since their joining the Affiliations Program in March 2001, the Museum has been active in bringing important artifacts, speakers, and exhibitions from the National Museum of Air and Space to College Park, Maryland.  The Museum sits on the grounds of the world’s oldest continuously operating airport, which was founded in 1909 when Wilbur Wright established a flight instruction operation for the first military aviators.  Not surprisingly, the Museum displays Wright memorabilia on loan from the Smithsonian, including their pocket watch and a Medal of Congress.  The Museum also displays the impressive and historic Berliner helicopter, the product of an inventive father-and-son team to become the first Americans to make any significant progress towards the creation of a practical helicopter.

Over the years, the Museum has hosted Smithsonian exhibitions including SITES’ At the Controls, and NASM’s In Plane View and Fly Now!NASM’s Flight Posters.  They have  hosted Smithsonian speakers on a range of topics from women and African Americans in aviation to milestones in early aviation history.

Consider a trip to the Museum next time you’re in the D.C. area.  At just 8 miles away from downtown, visitors can experience this landmark of early aviation history, while seeing some Smithsonian treasures along the way.  Kudos to the College Park Aviation Museum for 10 years of collaboration, and here’s to many more years of our flying together!

National Youth Summit Flickr album

Thanks again to our fab-five Affiliate partners who engaged their local communities during the National Youth Summit: 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides. Our recent blog post highlighted what happened before the event, but now you can get a look at what happened during it through our Smithsonian Affiliates Flicker group album!  Want to add your photos? Join our Smithsonian Affiliates- National Youth Summit: Freedom Rides group and add them!

SITES in your neighborhood this spring

Smithsonian Affiliates across the country are bringing Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) exhibitions to their communities this spring. Here’s what’s opening at an Affiliate in the coming months: 

This 1929 photo shows P.E. Allen of the White House police force, trainer Harry Waters, and some of the White House dogs, although not Herbert Hoover’s personal favorite, King Tut. Photo by Herbert E. French, National Photo Company. Library of Congress.

March 19- May 29, 2011
Orange County Regional History Center(Orlando, Florida)
The Working White House: Two Centuries of Traditions and Memories
Two centuries of stories and traditions are preserved in this exhibition, developed with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the White House Historical Association. Archival and contemporary images, videos, as well as fascinating oral histories of workers who have served presidents from William Taft through George W. Bush convey the occupational culture of this private yet public place.

Judith Jamison in “Cry,” 1976, Max Waldman (1919 - 1981), National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Gift of Carol Greunke, Max Waldman Archives.

March 26 – June 19, 2011
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits
This inaugural exhibition of photographic portraits of African Americans explores the medium’s influential role in shaping public identity and individual notions of race and status over the past 150 years. The portrait subjects come from many sectors of the African American community, from Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and Edmonia Lewis, to W.E.B. Du Bois, Lorraine Hansberry, and Wynton Marsalis.

Portrait from Becoming American: Teenagers and Immigration. Photographs © Barbara Beirne

April 23 – July 17, 2011
The Charlotte Museum of History (Charlotte, North Carolina)
Becoming American: Teenagers & Immigration, Photographs by Barbara Beirne
In many ways, ours is a nation of immigrants–hungry for freedom, peace, and the opportunity promised by the American Dream. The realities of that immigrant experience are most vividly read in the faces and words of young people who have made this journey. In this exhibition, each sensitive portrait is paired with excerpts from Beirne’s interviews with teens from Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. All of their stories are unique, and we read in every quote–and in every face–the individual struggles and hopes of “becoming American.”

Farmers, Warriors, Builders: The Hidden Life of Ants.

April 30 – July 10, 2011
South Florida Museum and Parker Manatee Aquarium (Bradenton, Florida)
Farmers, Warriors, Builders: The Hidden Life of Ants
Small yet abundant, with complex and wildly diverse lifestyles, ants are everywhere, living lives mostly hidden from our view. What if we could see into their world. on their level? What would we learn? What parallels could we draw between them and us? Now, with the aid of a macro lens and the insights of ant expert and photographer Dr. Mark Moffett, SITES and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History present the world of ants.

And you can still catch these exhibitions at an Affiliate in your neighborhood:

Beyond Baseball: The Life of Roberto Clemente, at Challenger Learning Center of Arizona (Peoria, Arizona), through April 17, 2011.

Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, at Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences (Peoria, Illinois), through May 1, 2011.

Find a Smithsonian Affiliate in your neighborhood here.
Find more Smithsonian traveling exhibitions and programs here.

The Smithsonian – It Plays in Peoria!

But, will it play in Peoria?”  This time-honored question from vaudeville days still stands as the benchmark of quality and success.  Whether politics or culture, the discriminating folks of this central Illinois riverfront city continue to have great sway over things that matter. 

Photo by John E. Barrett, courtesy of The Jim Henson Company. Kermit the Frog © The Muppets Studio, LLC.

Thanks to our Smithsonian Affiliate colleagues at Peoria’s Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian not only “plays in Peoria” but bags a big “boffo!”  Two great Smithsonian exhibitions now embellish the walls of the Lakeview Museum, drawing visitors and appreciative audiences from near and far.  In Plane View:  Abstractions of Flight is a series of masterpiece photographs shot and curated by National Air and Space Museum (NASM) photographer Carolyn Russo.  Russo finds the hidden design details in NASM’s collection of planes and spacecraft, making us look at these marvelous machines from a strikingly original aesthetic, each image provoking a new “Aha!” moment.  Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, put together by the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service, recaps 50 years of “Aha!” moments, as it celebrates the creative genius of the person who changed the world with a philosophical frog, a sassy pig, and a voracious cookie-eating beast.   

The Peoria Falcon on loan from the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

Both exhibits flank the long-term loan of the Peoria Falcon, a stunning artifact from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.  Acquired by John Wesley Powell prior to his illustrious career at the Smithsonian, this Native American copper adornment links Peoria to its past, while providing multiple paths to learn about the region, its land, and its people. 

If all this were not enough, I had the pleasure of joining Jane Henson, co-creator of The Muppets and Jim’s lifelong collaborator, for a series of presentations at the Lakeview Museum on February 24 and 25.  Jane’s audiences had the opportunity to see rare film clips and gain special insights into Henson’s creative process.  During the Q&A, many spoke of the enduring influence of these works on their own lives.  

Local puppeteer meets Jane Henson at Lakeview Museum.

We are grateful to Lakeview Museum director Jim Richerson and his accomplished staff for fulfilling the goal of the Smithsonian Affiliations program by bringing the Smithsonian into the local community in so many impressive ways.  And thank you to all our friends in Peoria by voting with your feet in favor of these collaborations.  Saying that the Smithsonian “played in Peoria” is a compliment we wear with pride.   So keep up the good work Affiliates everywhere and “on with the show!” 

Harold A. Closter
Smithsonian Affiliations

Supermarine Spitfire from the "In Plane View" exhibition. Photo by Carolyn Russo.

announcing the 2011 affiliations conference keynote speaker


Claudine Brown, Assistant Secretary for Education and Access

We are pleased to announce that Claudine K. Brown, the Smithsonian’s Assistant Secretary for Education and Access will provide the keynote speech on June 14 at the 2011 Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference, underscoring the centrality of education and the role of partnerships in advancing the Smithsonian’s mission.  Appointed in June 2010 to this newly established position, Brown serves as the overall leader of educational initiatives at the Smithsonian and coordinates the efforts of 32 education-based offices in museums and science centers.

Brown had been the director of the arts and culture program at the Nathan Cummings Foundation in New York since 1995.   In 1990, she joined the Smithsonian to serve as director of the National African-American Museum Project and in1991 she also became the deputy assistant secretary for the arts and humanities, developing policy for many Smithsonian museums.

Prior to her earlier work at the Smithsonian, Brown held several positions at The Brooklyn Museum:  museum educator, manager of school and community programs, and assistant director for government and community programs.  For more than 20 years, Brown served as a faculty advisor and instructor in the Leadership in Museum Education Program at Bank Street Graduate School of Museum Education in New York City, giving her the opportunity to work with some of the pre-eminent museum evaluators, educators and thinkers in the field.

Following Brown’s speech, conference attendees and Smithsonian educators will join in a series of roundtable discussions to identify potential areas of collaboration.

View the Smithsonian Affiliations Conference web page for further announcements.