kudos Affiliates! for November 2012

As summer turns into autumn, Affiliate accomplishments continue to shine!

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced the Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, Michigan) has been awarded $750,000 to help support cross-cultural understanding.

Dr. Kenneth B. Chapman and his wife, Dr. Ulrika Holm, presented Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Gardens (Staten Island, New York) with $10,000 to be used for restoration and repairs to the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden. The Chapman Family has agreed to contribute an additional $10,000 in matching funds for the restoration project.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science (Denver, Colorado) was one of nine organizations to receive 21st Century Museum Professionals grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The $244,897 award will enable the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, through Denver-area Evaluation Network (DEN) a collaborative of 15 cultural organizations, to positively influence evaluative thinking, implementation, and use in diverse Mountain-Plains museums.

Dell Services is donating $6.5 million in technology and services to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science (Dallas, Texas) to power its IT operations and help support its goal to advance youth education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Union Station Kansas City (Kansas City, Missouri) announced that the funding has been secured to move forward to create a new 3-D digital theater and Innovation Center. Three local foundations – the Goppert Foundation, the Regnier Family Foundation and the Schutte Foundation – provided the funding needed to establish this new theater which will be able to serve multiple purposes: showing a variety of educational and entertainment films, first- and second-run movies, and offering digital, interactive conference space for large groups.

The Mid-America Science Museum (Hot Springs, Arkansas) will qualify for a $7.8 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation thanks to a $520,000 pledge from the Hot Springs Advertising and Promotion Commission that completed a local $1.7 million matching requirement. The pledge means almost $10 million will go to begin construction on a massive renovation and expansion program.

Historic Bethlehem Partnership celebrated the announcement that the U.S. Interior Secretary named 14 acres in Downtown Bethlehem a National Historic Landmark District. The distinguished honor means their historic sites “possess exceptional value… in illustrating the heritage of the United States.”

coming up in affiliateland in november 2012

Fall in affiliateland…

TEXAS
The Ellen Noël Art Museum hosts curator Carolyn Russo from the National Air and Space Museum, who will be giving a series of lectures and a photography class in conjunction with the In Plane View exhibition, in Odessa, 11.1-2.

ARIZONA
Curator John Hasse from the National Museum of American History and Affiliations director Harold Closter will take part in the Musical Instrument Museum’s special jazz events in Phoenix, 11.10-11.

MASSACHUSETTS
Deputy director Richard Pickering and food historian Kathleen Wall from Plimoth Plantation will be performing historical theater and giving food talks about the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., 11.11.

NORTH CAROLINA
National Portrait Gallery’s Sid Hart will host a lecture about on the War of 1812 at the Greensboro Historical Museum in Greensboro, 11.13.

FLORIDA
The Frost Art Museum will host the Reflections Across Time: Seminole Portraits exhibition, which includes loans from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, and the National Museum of the American Indian, in Miami, 11.17.

WASHINGTON
The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture will host the National Museum of American History’s Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Warriors: Photographs by Gertrude Käsebier, in Spokane, 11.17.

PENNSYLVANIA
The Heinz History Center opens the From Slavery to Freedom exhibition, featuring artifacts on loan from the National Museum of American History, in Pittsburgh, 11.30.

calling museum thespians!

Affiliates, don’t miss this opportunity to share your museum theater experiences at the Smithsonian!

CALL FOR PROPOSALS

“Mr. Avery” from Mystic Seaport

Evolving the Story: Innovation in Today’s Museum Theatre

International Museum Theatre Alliance (IMTAL) 2013 Global Conference

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC October 6-10, 2013

The 2013 IMTAL Global Conference will focus on creativity and innovation in today’s Museum Theatre. In 2013, Museum Theatre is a proven, tested, educational approach in the field of museum studies. It is also an art form bringing the best of performance to museum visitors of all ages. But how is the field continuing to evolve? The 2013 Global conference will bring together practitioners, researchers, performers, and museum professionals from around the world to discuss, debate, present, and share examples of how the field is evolving and innovating.  We invite proposals that address the following topics in relation to the field of museum Theatre:

  •         New and creative participatory experiences
  •         Challenging and unexpected content
  •         Innovative uses of technology or social media
  •        Innovative methods for measuring the impact of Museum Theatre, both for audiences and for museums

Session Types:

  • Panel Discussion (60-90 minutes): 2 or more presenters with presentations on similar topics that may or may not have a moderator.  Individual presentations will be combined thematically by the conference organizers to create one panel discussion.
  • Skills Workshop (60-120 minutes): Interactive sessions presented by individuals or groups and focused on learning practical skills used in museum theatre such a script writing, costume, prop or puppet creation, acting technique, evaluation, creative dramatics, grant writing, participatory theatre, or others.
  • Performance with Discussion (60-120 minutes): A performance of a museum theatre work followed by a discussion to provide more in-depth understanding of the goals and objectives of the work or details of the development of the work.
  • Pecha Kucha Style Presentations: Presenters have 6 minutes and 40 seconds each to share up to 20 slides on a paper, project, performance, or idea related to their research or work in the field of museum theatre. Several of these presentations will be combined into a one session.

Please submit proposals by May 1, 2013 to conference2013@imtal.org. Proposals should include: session type, session title, abstract of no more than 200 words, staging and AV needs, and contact information.

For more information about the International Museum Theatre Alliance (IMTAL), visit www.imtal.org.

“De-aging” George Washington

Special note: This story has been condensed and reprinted from the Summer 2006 edition of The Affiliate newsletterPart of our Seriously Amazing Affiliates blog series.

Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens has preserved the home of George Washington for more than 150 years, always striving to present the most current and well-researched scholarship about our nation’s first president. In 2006, the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center opened at Mount Vernon, featuring three life-size mannequins of Washington, created, in part, through a unique collaboration between Mount Vernon, a Smithsonian Affiliate; several Smithsonian experts; and the National Museum of Dentistry, also an Affiliate. 

Jeffrey Schwartz, physical anthropologist and professor at the University of Pittsburgh, led the two-year effort. Using his knowledge of teeth and bone structure, Schwartz examined the existing evidence for clues about George Washington’s appearance at different times in his life. Aiding him in this forensic reconstruction was the Partnership for Research in Spatial Modeling (PRISM), a laboratory at Arizona State University that specializes in 3-D digital imaging.  

3-D computer generated images are a result of scanning Washington’s life mask and portrait bust. Photo courtesy of Mount Vernon Ladies Association.

Mount Vernon identified the many relics of Washington’s life that could provide necessary information. Using a computerized digital scanner, Schwartz scanned a 1785 life mask owned by the Morgan Library & Museum, a Jean-Antoine Houdon bust at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and a full body Houdon sculpture in the Virginia State Capitol Rotunda. Many of the Washington objects owned by the Smithsonian were also scanned or examined by Schwartz and his team.  

One of the biggest challenges was determining what Washington looked like as a young man as no portraits depict his image before the age of 40. To help, the National Portrait Gallery provided insight into the many portraits of Washington, as well as into the conventions of 18th century portraiture. 

Washington’s dentures played a vital role in reconstructing Washington’s face. As he lost teeth and bone in his jaw, the shape of his face changed. Dentures also change the jaw line depending on how they fit in the mouth. By examining the dentures that Washington used in his lifetime, the team was able to create a timeline that identified the progression of Washington’s tooth loss. As the mannequins depict Washington at the ages of 19, 45 and 57, this timeline provided critical information on the changing shape of Washington’s face. 

A set of George Washington’s dentures. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Dentistry.

Three versions of Washington’s dentures can be found at the National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore, Maryland. One is an original, complete denture for the lower jaw dated 1795, while the other two are replicas of dentures in other collections. 

Since 18th century portraits emphasized the sitter’s face and not the body, information on Washington’s build was extracted from his clothing. By taking volumetric measurements of his trousers, waistcoats and shirts, clues to Washington’s height (6’ 2”) and build could be extrapolated.  

The National Museum of American History gave the team access to Washington’s military uniform which provided the prototype for the costume to be worn by the 45-year-old mannequin depicting Washington at Valley Forge.  

After consulting with these experts, the scans and measurements were fed into a special computer program that produced three-dimensional images of Washington. Eventually, the images were printed out or “milled” on a special machine into high-density foam, and the mannequins became reality.

National Youth Summit: Dust Bowl

The Smithsonian and the National Endowment for the Humanities examine the legacy of the Dust Bowl era through current issues of drought, agricultural sustainability and global food security during a live, interactive discussion with experts. The program will be webcast from the museum to Youth Town Halls at locations across the nation Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. EDT.

In the 1930s, severe drought and extensive farming caused widespread agricultural damage, crop failure and human misery across the Great Plains. Called the “Dust Bowl” because of the immense dust storms created as the dry soil blew away in large, dark clouds, it is considered one of the worst ecological disasters in American history. Millions of acres of farmland were damaged and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes. Many migrated to California and other western states where the economic conditions during the Great Depression were often no better than those they had left.

The Oct. 17 discussion in Washington, D.C., taking place in the Warner Bros. Theater at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, will be joined by audiences at nine Smithsonian Affiliate museums and the National Steinbeck Center, which will also host regional Youth Town Halls. Participants at the regional Town Hall sites will prerecord questions on video to be played during the live National Youth Summit webcast. The Youth Town Halls will take place at:

The live webcast is available to educators and students through free registration at americanhistory.si.edu/nys. 

The National Youth Summit brings middle and high school students together with scholars, teachers, policy experts, witnesses to history and activists in a national conversation about important events in America’s past that have relevance to the nation’s present and future. The program is an ongoing collaboration between the National Museum of American History, the National Endowment for the Humanities, PBS and museums across the United States in the Smithsonian Affiliations network.

The summit will include segments from award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns’ forthcoming film The Dust Bowl and a panel discussion, moderated by Huffington Post science editor Cara Santa Maria, and featuring: Ken Burns, Dust Bowl survivor Cal Crabill, U.S. Department of Agriculture ecologist Debra Peters, fifth-generation farmer Roy Bardole from Rippey, Iowa, and farmer and founder of Anson Mills, Glenn Roberts. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will welcome the audience through a video statement. Panelists will take questions from students participating in the summit, and offer their own perspectives on what history can teach people about their relationship with the environment.

Programming for the National Youth Summit on the Dust Bowl is produced by the National Museum of American History and the National Endowment for the Humanities in partnership with Smithsonian Affiliations and PBS/WETA.

Smithsonian Affiliations collaborates with museums and educational organizations to share the Smithsonian with people in their own communities and create lasting experiences that broaden perspectives on science, history, world cultures and the arts. More information about Smithsonian Affiliations is available here.

The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent federal agency created in 1965.  It is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. NEH grants typically go to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television and radio stations, and to individual scholars. For more information on the NEH, visit http://www.neh.gov/.

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. To learn more about the museum, check americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.

An “Out of this World” Experience

Special thanks to Sonchia Jilek, Executive Director, The Pinhead Institute, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Telluride, Colorado, for this guest post. Part of our Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos blog series. Seriously Amazing

This summer, I had the opportunity to lead one of our most memorable programs, Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos program, thanks to a grant from the Smithsonian Youth Access fund.

Courtesy Pinhead Institute.

The grant funded Pinhead’s first “Astrophotography Camp” to help provide underserved middle-school youth access to the resources of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory through the MicroObservatory Telescope Network. As a Smithsonian Affiliate, the first in Colorado, the Pinhead Institute was honored to receive this special grant.

I decided to host this program in our outreach area in Naturita, Colorado. Naturita is a former uranium mining community located approximately 20 miles east of the Colorado-Utah border. With the Uranium Mill closing back in the 1980s, the town now supports a community of only 600 people. Located within this small town is an excellent library that hosts the majority of events for kids and adults. The heart of this town is the Naturita Public Library, named the Best Small Library in America in 2011 by the Library Journal.

The Naturita Public Library played host for our first “Astrophotography Camp.” This camp ran three hours a day for one week in August. Twelve students attended for free, thanks to the funding from the Smithsonian. The size was only limited based on the number of available computers at the library. The students came in with little knowledge of the solar system, galaxies, or the greater universe. They left empowered and engaged by the enormity of space.

Our first day consisted of learning all about telescopes and working on vocabulary. The kids learned the difference between a planet and a nebula and learned how a telescope “sees” differently than a human eye. The curriculum for this first day of our camp was found through the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophotophysics MicroObservatory website. Through online webinars with Mary Dussault and Erin Braswell from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, I felt comfortable using the curriculum and leading this first part of our camp on my own.

Courtesy Pinhead Institute.

Over the next few days of the camp students learned to control the robotic telescopes through the online MicroObservatory to take images of galaxies, planets, nebulas, and the moon. Many of these students had never worked on computers. So, beyond learning about our universe, these students had the opportunity to learn computing skills. The images students selected from the MicroObservatory site were emailed to the students, which they manipulated using special software used by professional astronomers to create beautiful space-based art projects.

Our final day consisted of the students creating their poster projects to exhibit selected telescope images. The girls used a lot of glitter and sparkles to help display their images of the moon and various nebulas. The boys’ posters included references to sport heroes alongside their galaxies and planets.

The poster exhibition went on display at the Naturita Library and in late August. Parents joined their kids as they presented their posters and described what they learned and how they processed their images. It was a great event, reflective of this amazing community, and showcased the student’s passion for sharing what they had learned.

We work with communities surrounding Telluride in Southwestern Colorado. Pinhead aims to teach students of all ages about the wonders of science. We host a number of great programs that teach students about how science is fun, creative, and a part of their daily lives. Our outreach extends from Telluride to Ridgway, to Ouray, to Norwood, and to Naturita, reaching more than 5,000 kids each year, providing thousands of hours of science enrichment opportunities in our remote part of Colorado.

Naturita is a special community, and is one of our favorite places to host our programs. We are always looking for new programs to offer out in this rural town. The Colorful Cosmos program was the perfect fit not only for Pinhead’s capacity, but also the perfect fit for the students in Naturita. Despite our isolated location, I was able to learn everything I needed to know remotely. All of the resources provided through the Smithsonian and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics exceeded my expectations and made this camp an incredible learning experience with only a few hiccups. We are planning on extending the astrophotography camp to our local communities in the very near future.

Courtesy Pinhead Institute.