At the Controls in your neighborhood

"At the Controls" exhibition at the Tellus Science Museum. Photo courtesy Eric Long.

Ever wondered what the cockpit looked like in Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis? Or what the viewpoint was inside the Wright brothers’ 1903 Flyer? Affiliates now have the opportunity to show their visitors an up-close view of some of the most famous cockpits in aviation history. At the Controls, an exhibition created from a book of the same title published by Eric Long and Mark Avino from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM), invites visitors to get a pilot’s point of view through 22 large-scale, color photographs. 

Originally a Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service traveling exhibition, At the Controls completed its five-year tour in 2009 and returned to NASM where it is now being offered exclusively to Affiliates at a special rate. Interested Smithsonian Affiliates will only be responsible for the cost of shipping and insurance – there is no participation fee.  “The exhibition offers a never before seen and very unique perspective of the history of cockpits from some of the world’s most impressive air and spacecraft,” said Long.  

"At the Controls" at Tellus Science Museum. Photo courtesy Eric Long.

The exhibition is currently on view at the Tellus Science Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Cartersville, Georgia, and will close on November 13, 2011, after which time it will be open for additional booking.  

The images are printed on flexible material which can be displayed on lightweight, freestanding structures or on exhibition walls.  Each photograph is labeled with aircraft information and details specific to each cockpit.  Some of the extraordinary aircraft included are the Wright brothers’ 1903 Flyer, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, Chuck Yeager’s Bell X-1 Glamorous Glennis, John Glenn’s  Mercury Friendship 7, Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, and the Space Shuttle Columbia. 

For more information on exhibition availability, please contact Smithsonian Affiliations National Outreach Manager, Caroline Mah, at or 202-633-5308. 

Exhibition Specifications: 

  • Contents: 22 large-format color digital images with text printed on flexible banner material, freestanding units
  • Size: 130 running feet
  • Crates: 3
  • Weight: 173 kg (382 lb.)
  • Estimated Shipping: For example, recent costs from Washington, D.C. to Cartersville, GA via Fed Ex were approximately $300.   Shipping prices will vary. 
  • Insurance Value: $22,000 ($1,000 per banner). Venues must have adequate general commercial liability insurance or be self-insured.
  • Space Requirements: minimum 700 sq ft.

**Affiliates are responsible for shipping and insurance costs.


A record-breaking sailplane of the 1930s, the Senior Albatross Falcon looks like an otherworldy life form.


kudos affiliates! october 2011

Way to go Affiliates!

Saginaw Art Museum (Saginaw, Michigan) has received a $15,000 Michigan District Grant from the Macy’s Foundation to continue to host “Macy’s Free Fridays” through 2012. This program is a collaborative effort to make the arts more accessible to the diverse people and organizations of the Great Lakes Bay Region.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation announced the Museum of American Finance (New York, New York) received $100,000 to install a climate-control system as part of the federal funding received by the corporation.

Pratt & Whitney donated $1 million dollars to the National World War II Museum (New Orleans, Louisiana) to help tell the story of America’s experience in the war that changed the world. In addition, the company is donating a Twin Wasp R-1830-90D, an engine that powered several different World War II aircraft.

LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes (Los Angeles, California) announced the Pepsico Foundation has awarded a $1 million grant to the museum to benefit the Plaza’s Edible Teaching Garden and Culinary Arts program. The program will offer educational demonstrations and cooking lessons in the effort to encourage physical activity, healthy food choices and educate participants on the cultural history of Mexican and Mexican American cuisine.

The Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, Michigan) received a $200,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to fund two projects–one, the exhibit “Little Syria,” a neighborhood of early 20th century New York City; the other, an environmental project for youth in the U.S. and Jordan.

Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) received an $88,738 grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission to fund a two-year project to describe and provide access to more than 600 archival collections. In addition, the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County board awarded a $250,000 grant to the Center to help buy a $1.3 million vacant building for an artifacts storage facility and conservation center.

Ellen Noël Art Museum (Odessa, Texas) was awarded a Heritage Tourism Partnership Grant by the Texas Historical Commission to fund the installation of promotional and museum signage in Odessa.


coming up in affiliateland in october 2011

Autumn is always a busy time in Affiliateland!  Hope you can catch one of these opportunities to experience the Smithsonian in your hometown.

The Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion architectural model, on loan from the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute, is on view at the Headley-Whitney Museum in Lexington, through 3/2012.

Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden will be speaking about his book Falling to Earth at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, 10/8.

The Mashantucket Pequot Museum will open the IndiVisible exhibition, on loan from the National Museum of the American Indian, in Mashantucket, 10/8.

Smithsonian National Board member Abby Joseph Cohen will speak at the Museum of American Finance in New York, 10/13.

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art will be celebrating their 10th anniversary as an affiliate in New Orleans, 10/15.

The Arizona State  Museum will open the Through the Eyes of the Eagle, an exhibition developed by Affiliate the David J. Sencer CDC Museum) in Tucson, 10/15.

Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden will be speaking about his book Falling to Earth at the Kansas Cosmophere in Hutchinson, 10/15.

Curator Michael Neufeld will lecture on the National Air and Space Museum Autobiography at the College Park Aviation Museum in College Park, 10/15.

The USS Constitution Museum will be announcing their affiliation at a Launching Party in Boston, 10/20.

Dr. David W. Penney, Associate Director for Museum Scholarship at the National Museum of the American Indian, will present a talk on historic Native American objects at the Southeastern Cowboy Festival at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, 10/21.

The Charlotte Museum of History will open SITES’ Native Words, Native Warriors exhibition in Charlotte, 10/22.

Affiliations staff will be on a panel with colleagues from the Headley-Whitney Museum, the Museum of Arts and Sciences, Tellus Science Museum, and York County Culture and Heritage Museums at the Southeastern Museum  Conference in Greenville, 10/25-27.



Art, Community, and Culture on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Special thanks to Sharon Shaffer, Executive Director, Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, for this guest post.

Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art, Welcome Center

The Ohr O’Keefe Museum of Art (Gulfport, MS) tells three significant stories through its museum and collections. It is the museum design of Frank Gehry, the unparallelled collection of pottery by George Edgar Ohr, and the artifacts of freed slave and craftsman Pleasant Reed that tell important stories of culture and heritage in the Mississippi Coastal Region.

The Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (SEEC) partnered with the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art (OOMA) to bring these stories to area students through educational field guides, supported by an IMLS grant.  SEEC museum professionals–Sharon Shaffer, Betsy Bowers, and Anna Forgerson– authored the field guides, while OOMA professionals will vet, edit, and create the visual design for the materials.

The student field guides are specially designed for developmental levels (early elementary, upper elementary, middle school, and high school) with six individual experiences defined for each level.  Each set offers an introduction to the museum, an exploration of the work and life of George Ohr, Pleasant Reed, and Frank Gehry, and a culminating experience that looks at the intersection of these individuals.  The intens is to fully engage students to look, reflect, connect, relate, and imagine, in the galleries and then return to the classroom to extend learning with standards-based ideas provided in teacher’s guides.

"Blackberry Woman" by Richmond Barthe on loan to OOMA from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

A group of K-12 educators from local Mississippi schools serve on an educational planning committee and have offered an inside voice for the experiences crafted by SEEC educators.  They will also play a role in the two days of professional development that SEEC will lead at OOMA in January 2012.

Teachers are eager to begin using the new standards-based materials and the museum is excited to be able to serve area students through newly developed experiences that highlight the stories of their museum.  For all, particularly SEEC, this has been a labor of love… collaborating with exceptional museum professionals and dedicated classroom teachers to tell stories of Mississippi culture and heritage through the beauty of the museum.

Museums’ Futures Rely on Relevance

Special thanks to Ellen Rosenthal, President and CEO at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Fishers, Indiana, for this guest post.

Around 500 BCE the legendary Greek philosopher Heraclitus declared that the only constant is change. Imagine what he would say today. 

For more than a quarter century museums have been a central part of my life (Conner Prairie Interactive History Park since 1999).  It’s safe to say that I expected the world to change during my career, but at this rate?  In retrospect, I was clueless. 

Entering Dupont, part of the 1863 Civil War Journey at Conner Prairie. Photo courtesy Conner Prairie.

We museum leaders find ourselves in the midst of a digital revolution, globalization, new discoveries in the way people learn and retain information, the manner(s) in which information is conveyed,  economic challenges (for us and for our guests), and attention spans that seem to shrink with the launch of every new Smartphone app.  

So what are we to do with this tsunami of challenges facing our industry if we are to avoid being relegated to another heap within history?   

Museums must not only find ways to engage today’s sophisticated and restless consumers, but we must recognize a shared need to remain relevant – to keepup with change.  My 20-year-old son once challenged me, “Why do I need to go to Conner Prairie when I can experience time-travel on my laptop?” Conner Prairie has an answer. 

The Depot in the 1863 Civil War Journey at Conner Prairie. Photo courtesy Conner Prairie.

The shared purpose that we embrace at Conner Prairie is to create intergenerational learning “exhibits” that pique curiosity, generate positive attitudes toward learning and encourage grandparents, parents, teachers and children to share experiences that spark conversation. 

Although there are no long-term studies to prove the importance of museums to educational attainment, research on the summer learning gap shows that underprivileged students fall behind their middle-class classmates, because they do not visit museums or have other out-of-school learning experiences over the summer. There is an important role for museums to play in sustaining America’s educational competitiveness.  

Conner Prairie seeks to make it easier for entire families of all income levels to share learning experiences by first, making those experiences exciting enough to leave home for, and by second, offering reduced admission based on need through the Access Program, which offers $1 admission to any Hoosier family on public assistance. 

A Raided Warehouse in the 1863 Civil War Journey at Conner Prairie. Photo courtesy Conner Prairie.

We understand that if we, as a contemporary museum, are to remain relevant and at least within a thoroughbred’s length of change we must do the following: 

  1. Look outside the museum field for models.
    Consider who or what engages all family members regardless of age.  Movie maker Pixar is an example, not in terms of costs, but in the way it ingeniously creates simultaneous plot lines – one that moves and amuses adults, another that speaks to kids.
  2. Create experience. In our recent Civil War Journey experience we used technology but not for technology’s sake. As our consultants put it: “It isn’t the whiz-bang that matters, it’s the story the whiz-bang is trying to bring to life.”
  3. Program for diverse audiences. If you want to engage diverse multi-generational audiences, make sure that everyone sees someone with whom they can identify. The stars of our Civil War  exhibit are a 16-year-old girl; an 18-year-old escaped slave and a 12-year-old message boy. 

Seventy-seven years after our founding we continue to discover that our founder Eli Lilly had at least part of the answer to our museum-industry dilemma: “nothing is done that cannot be done better.”  Keep an eye on the way lives are changing and a loose grip on tradition and relevance will take care of itself.

Ellen M. Rosenthal – President and CEO
Conner Prairie Interactive  History Park
Fishers, Indiana
(317) 776.6000

Civil War reenactors from throughout the Midwest portrayed Morgan’s Raiders during the creation of Conner Prairie’s new 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana. © Conner Prairie