another way to bring the Smithsonian to your door

Dr. Kurin visited the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia in November 2013. Photo courtesy NMAJH.

Dr. Kurin visited the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia in November 2013. Photo courtesy NMAJH.

You may have caught him in an Affiliate neighborhood in the past year–he’s been to more than 8 Affiliates–or read his new book The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects. But did you know you can now learn from Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture anywhere you can download him?!

Based on Richard Kurin’s popular book, the Experiencing America course–the first in a new partnership between the Smithsonian and The Great Courses–reveals the stories behind iconic American artifacts, including President Abraham Lincoln’s hat, Dorothy’s ruby slippers, George Washington’s sword, Harriet Tubman’s hymnal and even the Space Shuttle Discovery. Eye-opening and thought-provoking lectures share surprising takes on both familiar objects and little-known artifacts of profound importance to American history.

“When you’re in intimate proximity to one of these objects. you have a link to that sweeping history. History is not distant. It’s not a stranger.” –Richard Kurin

We are always on the lookout for ways to bring engaging, educational content from the Smithsonian to Affiliate neighborhoods and are delighted that Dr. Kurin has visited so many Affiliate communities. This new collaboration with The Great Courses offers yet another way to experience the Smithsonian.

“It’s been a real treat visiting Smithsonian Affiliates and giving public talks about The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects as well as having quality time to visit with staff . The hospitality of our colleagues and the welcoming audiences have been uplifting. And everywhere I’ve been, from the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh to the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane, from the Polk Museum of Art in Florida to the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre, among others, I’ve connected Affiliate collections to Smithsonian icons, regional stories to national ones, generating a wonderful response.”

Dr. Kurin gives an animated talk at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh in March 2014.

Dr. Kurin gave an animated talk at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh in March 2014.

Affiliates interested in bringing Dr. Kurin to their communities should contact their Affiliations National Outreach Manager for more information.

Additional resources:

let’s source the crowds

While it may seem like a contemporary term, many museums, including the Smithsonian, have been using crowdsourcing as a strategy for years.  At the Smithsonian, we’ve been at it since 1849, when the first Secretary, Joseph Henry, used 150 weather observers all over the U.S. to contribute data, an activity that led to the formation of the National Weather Service.

The Smithsonian still sources the power of our audiences today on topics ranging from tree leaves and gardens to immigration and stories from rural America.  We’d love to hear from you!  Please contribute your voice, or let your visitors know, about the projects below.  Do you have a crowdsourcing initiative you’d like to share?  Let us know in the comments.

SI Transcription Center– Crowdsourcing transcriptions of primary source documents https://transcription.si.edu/

Leafsnap – Crowdsourcing tree images for mobile app http://leafsnap.com/

worksgarden

crowdsourced image of kohlrabi growing in the garden of The Works, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Newark, Ohio.

Encyclopedia of Life – Crowdsourcing species-related media http://eol.org/info/contribute

Our American Journey (National Museum of American History) – Crowdsourcing oral histories of American experience of migration and immigration  http://my.si.edu/oaj/story

Community of Gardens (Smithsonian Gardens)- Learn from the ways that gardens and gardeners of all backgrounds have shaped America’s landscape.  https://communityofgardens.si.edu/

Agriculture Innovation and Heritage Archive (National Museum of American History) – Think about how transformations in American agriculture have affected you, your family, your community, and the environment.    http://americanhistory.si.edu/agheritage/how-to-participate

Stories from Main Street  (Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service)– Crowdsourcing stories about rural America  – http://www.storiesfrommainstreet.org/

Ask Smithsonian (Smithsonian Magazine) – Try to stump us with a question about anything.  Really, anything.  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/ask-smithsonian/ask-form/?no-ist

Will to Adorn (Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage) – Listen to and contribute your stories about the choices you make everyday when you dress for school, work, fun, or special occasions. http://www.festival.si.edu/2013/Will_to_Adorn/GetTheApp/

eMammal (National Museum of Natural History) – Work with researchers to document mammals using camera traps. http://emammal.wordpress.com/about/

Finally, here’s a look at some spectacular online exhibitions created by crowdsourcing:

from the crowdsourced exhibition, A Day in the Life of Asian Pacific America

from the crowdsourced exhibition, A Day in the Life of Asian Pacific America

A Day in the Life of Asian Pacific America (Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center) – The first crowdsourced gallery of the Asian Pacific American experience around the world as lived on one day.  http://smithsonianapa.org/life2014/

My Space Shuttle Memories (National Air and Space Museum) Did you ever see a space shuttle launch or land in person?   http://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/moving-beyond-earth/memories.cfm

Portraits of Planet Ocean (National Museum of Natural History) – Stunning photo gallery of the world’s magnificent oceans by oceanographers and enthusiasts.   https://www.flickr.com/groups/portraitsofplanetocean/

 

 

affiliates in the news- October 2014

Congrats to these Affiliates making news! Each month we highlight Affiliate-Smithsonian and Affiliate-Affiliate collaborations making headlines.  If you have a clipping highlighting a collaboration with the Smithsonian or with a fellow Affiliate you’d like to have considered for the Affiliate blog, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee.

A life-size version of Mr. Rogers, originally from the Pittsburgh area, appears in the Heinz Center’s exhibition on innovation. (Senator John Heinz History Center)

A life-size version of Mr. Rogers, originally from the Pittsburgh area, appears in the Heinz Center’s exhibition on innovation. (Senator John Heinz History Center)

Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, PA)
Celebrating Pittsburgh, the City Behind Pro Football, Big Macs and the Polio Vaccine
Pittsburghers, locals say, are proud in a quiet sort of way. For that reason, outsiders may not realize that the western Pennsylvania city is responsible for everything from banana splits to the emoticon. For years–16,000, to be exact–Pittsburgh has served as a hub for innovation across industries as varied as sports, weaponry, board games and condiments. 

Riverside Metropolitan Museum (Riverside, CA)
Metropolitan Museum celebrates Smithsonian Week
For Smithsonian Week, Sept. 23 to Sept. 27, the museum will feature two special Smithsonian guests, who will give presentations related to the “Cahuilla Continuum” exhibit.

Ellen Noël Art Museum (Odessa, TX)
Ellen Noël Art museum to host Community Art Day
“SouthWest Bank is excited to once again support the Smithsonian Affiliation with the Ellen Noel Art Museum of the Permian Basin,” Dewey Bryant, CEO of SouthWest Bank said in an emailed statement. “We appreciate the Ellen Noel Art Museum as well as their constant efforts to educate the Permian Basin in the Arts with the exhibits that they provide for the benefit of the Permian Basin including the Smithsonian exhibits.  We are proud to support this community organization in our great city.”

Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum (Clewiston, FL)
Exhibit Features Skate Culture on Big Cypress Reservation and Across U.S.
Native American skateboarders are the subject of a traveling Smithsonian exhibit at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation in Hendry County. 

Philip Leslie Hale. American, 1865-1931. Wisteria, circa 1895. Oil on canvas. (Collection of Dr. William H. and Nancy Marshall). On view at the Peoria Riverfront Museum.

Philip Leslie Hale. American, 1865-1931. Wisteria, circa 1895. Oil on canvas. (Collection of Dr. William H. and Nancy Marshall). On view at the Peoria Riverfront Museum.

Peoria Riverfront Museum (Peoria, IL)
Impressionism Into Modernism: Crafting America’s Unique Style of Art
To McKinsey, the Armory Show’s appeal is local as well as historic, as the Peoria Riverfront Museum sits a mere three hours outside of Chicago. “Chicago was full of these artists who were at the forefront of Modernism, but perhaps just not as broadly known,” she says. “This is an opportunity to celebrate Chicago’s contributions to Modernism in America.”

Stafford Museum (Weatherford, OK)
Stafford Museum Invites Members For Special Events, Discounts
September also marks the month-long National Smithsonian Membership Drive. The Stafford Museum is celebrating their status as a Smithsonian Affiliate and the opportunity to share the Smithsonian Membership with all Oklahomans by discounting all membership levels by $10.

The Biomuseo (Panama City, Panama)
Frank Gehry’s Biomuseo in Panama, Finally Open for Business
Visitors must begin at the Gallery of Biodiversity which acts as an introduction to Panama’s genetic, ecological and biological bounty. . Also covered in this gallery are the current bio-prospecting initiatives that are being carried out in the country by organizations such as the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). 

National Inventors Hall of Fame (North Canton, OH)
National Museum of American History Innovates
In collaboration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, this space will display technological breakthroughs from various eras, trademarks and explain intellectual property protection. It also will showcase inventions of National Inventors Hall of Fame members. 

William Greiner’s photographs, including Merry’s, are on view in “Oh! Augusta!” at the Morris Museum of Art in Georgia. (William Greiner/Morris Museum of Art)

William Greiner’s photographs, including Merry’s, are on view in “Oh! Augusta!” at the Morris Museum of Art in Georgia. (William Greiner/Morris Museum of Art)

Morris Museum of Art (Augusta, GA)
Capturing First Impressions of a City in Transition
The Morris Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate museum, holds 32 Greiner photographs in its permanent collections and selected 20 of those to include in “Oh! Augusta!” Eschewing digital, Greiner used a 35mm film camera and a half-a-century-old lens. Schulte says that Greiner took so many photos during his 2012 visit that he had to ask museum staff to run out and buy him more film.

Virginia Museum of Natural History (Martinsville, VA)
3D Printing Extinct Animals: The Passenger Pigeon in the Age of Digital Zooarchaeology
The post-cranial bones of the Passenger Pigeon came from the collection of the Virginia Museum of Natural History. It was with the guidance of Dr. Elizabeth Moore that these elements were made available for this landmark project. Brian Schmidt, Director of the Division of Birds at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History was able to provide two skulls for the project.

South Dakota State Historic Society (Pierre, SD)
South Dakota Society To Show Smithsonian Webcast
The South Dakota State Historical Society will show a webcast of a Smithsonian Channel program on the history of California’s Silicon Valley. The historical society says its museum in Pierre will show the free webcast on Sept. 14. It was produced in 2010 for Smithsonian and explores the growth of Silicon Valley in the late 1950s, before people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates ruled the technology sector.

St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum (St. Augustine, FL)
Lighthouse will celebrate Native American History with award-winning chef
“The Mitsitam Café is one of the more popular places to eat lunch on the mall in D.C.,” said Mollie Malloy, Senior Director of Museum Services at the lighthouse. “I have met Chef Hetzler and had the very rare opportunity to experience, first hand, his passion and talents for bringing history to life through the culinary arts. His research of Native American food and customs can be tasted in everything that he prepares.”

Two days of adventure at the St Augustine Lighthouse
Historic City News readers are invited to be guests of the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum on Saturday, September 6th, to take a bite out of history with award-winning chef Richard Hetzler.

During the affiliation announcement at the Sullivan Museum, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Norwich University President Richard W. Schneider viewed a Lincoln mask produced with a 3D printer using Smithsonian 3D model. Photo credit: Norwich University/Mark Collier

During the affiliation announcement at the Sullivan Museum, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Norwich University President Richard W. Schneider viewed a Lincoln mask produced with a 3D printer using Smithsonian 3D model. Photo credit: Norwich University/Mark Collier

Sullivan Museum and History Center (Northfield, VT)
Sullivan Museum is now a Smithsonian Affiliate
Senator Leahy, the Senate’s President Pro Tempore and since 2001 one of three Senate members of the Smithsonian’s 17- member governing Board of Regents, said: “As a Vermonter and a Smithsonian Regent I’m doubly proud of this designation. Acceptance into the Smithsonian Affiliates program is a great credit to the Sullivan Museum and History Center and to Norwich University. It signifies the Sullivan museum’s vitality and high standards. Hitching our star to the Smithsonian, and the Smithsonian to the Sullivan Museum’s energy, is a winner from every perspective. This broad partnership will deepen the Sullivan Museum’s and Vermonters’ access to a broad array of professional and educational resources, as well as to the Smithsonian’s unparalleled collections. It will bring Norwich’s rich history to wider audiences beyond our borders.”

Norwich University’s Sullivan Museum Becomes Smithsonian Affiliate
“It offers us the opportunity to work with the 19 museums in the Smithsonian,” says Henrich of the mammoth Washington, D.C., institution. “When we’re planning our exhibits, we can borrow objects from those museums, and we can bring in subject specialists for lectures and programming . they have a fabulous speakers’ series.” 

Norwich museum becomes first Smithsonian Affiliate in Vermont
In association with the Smithsonian since 2014, the Sullivan Museum and History Center is part of a select group of museums, and cultural, educational, and arts organizations that share the Smithsonian’s resources with the nation.

U.S. Space and Rocket Center (Huntsville, AL)
U.S. Space and Rocket Center adds heavyweight helicopter exhibit
“As a Smithsonian affiliate, this is part of our job to tell the story of the Smithsonian in our neighborhood,” the Space and Rocket Center’s CEO Deborah Barnhart said.  “The Chinook is certainly part of the backbone of the story in our neighborhood here with Team Redstone.”

Center for the History of Psychology (Akron, OH)
University of Akron receives $3.5 million gift for Center for the History of Psychology
Nicholas Cummings, a trailblazing psychologist, and his wife, Dorothy, have committed $3.5 million to the University of Akron, which will secure the future of its Center for the History of Psychology. In recognition of the gift, which follows an early commitment of $1.5 million, the center will bear the Cummings name. 

After examining a century-old quilt brought in by Birmingham resident Nora Bell (not pictured), Renee Anderson (left), from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and textile historian Susan Neill offered tips for preserving and storing the family heirloom.

After examining a century-old quilt brought in by Birmingham resident Nora Bell (not pictured), Renee Anderson (left), from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and textile historian Susan Neill offered tips for preserving and storing the family heirloom. Debbie Elliott/NPR

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, Alabama)
New Smithsonian Workshops Show You How To Preserve Black Cultural Artifacts
But now a new program by the Smithsonian is teaching people how to preserve their own cultural artifacts, which have value to society and, quite frankly, monetary value.

Preserving Black History, Americans Care For National Treasures At Home (NPR All Things Considered)
It looks like the TV program Antiques Roadshow has come to town. But these are experts from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, here as part of a series of workshops around the country to help identify and protect items of cultural significance.

Smithsonian coming to Birmingham to evaluate African-American treasures
“We are extremely proud of bringing ‘Save Our African American Treasures’ to Birmingham and of our partnership with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute,” said Lonnie Bunch, director of the Smithsonian museum, in a statement.

coming up in affiliateland in october 2014

The air is turning crisp and Affiliates continue to host top-rated programs all over the country.

PANAMA

The BioMuseo, designed by Frank Gehry, is ready to open in Panama.

The BioMuseo, designed by Frank Gehry, is ready to open in Panama.

National Outreach Manager Alma Douglas takes part in the celebration of the BioMuseo, which officially opens to the public in Panama City, 10.2.

TENNESSEE

Smithsonian Associates lead an exclusive tour Inside Oak Ridge National Laboratory featuring two Affiliates, the Museum of Appalachia and American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, 10.4-7.

FLORIDA

The Menello Museum of Art opens George Catlin’s American Buffalo exhibition from the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Orlando, 10.4.

The South Florida Museum opens SITES The Evolving Universe exhibition in Bradenton, 10.25.

TEXAS

Affiliations director Harold Closter will announce the new affiliation with the Witte Museum in San Antonio, 10.7.

Affiliations director Harold Closter will announce the new affiliation with the Space Center Houston, 10/8.

MASSACHUSETTS

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Several Smithsonian staff members will attend the celebration to open Spark!Lab, an interactive exhibit and activity space resulting from a collaboration between the Berkshire Museum and the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, in Pittsfield, 10.10.

The Lowell National Historical Park will host an Innovators in Community Engagement Forum, including Sharon Reinckens from the Anacostia Community Museum, and fellow Affiliate, Cassie Chinn, from the Wing Luke Museum, in Lowell, 10.21-22.

SOUTH CAROLINA

The Children’s Museum of the Upstate hosts their first “Smithsonian Speaker Series” with a talk by fellow Affiliate Dr. Deborah Barnhart, CEO of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The Museum will also present public exhibition of student creations as part of the Smithsonian’s Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos astrophotography project, in Greenville, 10.28.

 

 

where the buffalo roam

On Saturday, August 30, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo will bring back the American bison in a new exhibit and habitat.  Zora and Wilma are not only beautiful animals, but they also serve as an important reminder about conservation and the Zoo’s inception. In 1887, American bison wandered the National Mall, helping to bring awareness to the endangerment of the species. Two years later, Congress passed legislation to found the National Zoo, celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

Bison roam around the Smithsonian Castle

Bison roam around the Smithsonian Castle, 1887-89

At Affiliations, we are wallowing in the excitement of welcoming these magnificent animals to Washington. So we decided to scan our herd of partners, to see where else the mighty American bison are roaming among Affiliate plains. We found a virtual stampede of bison content in Affiliateland!

– It seems appropriate to start in Wyoming, at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. After all, it was “Buffalo Bill” Cody who offered the Smithsonian a herd of 18 bison in 1888. Painfully, the gift had to be refused for lack of space on the National Mall.  But today, you can find plenty of bison material at the Buffalo Bill Center in Cody. The Center’s museums house an impressive collection of art depicting “Nature’s Cattle,” including beautiful Audubon prints as well as Native artifacts made from the bison, and natural history specimens.

"Scout" at the Durham Museum in Omaha.

“Scout” at the Durham Museum in Omaha

– It was a Nebraska rancher who donated the very first bison to the Smithsonian’s collection, so it seems natural to travel on to Omaha to visit “Scout,” the beloved bison on view at the Durham Museum. At 7 ½’ high and 10’ long, this magnificent specimen helps to tell the important story of the Midwest’s history with the bison. As part of their bison interpretation, the Durham Museum uses the online resource Tracking the Buffalo from the National Museum of American History. Go ahead – take the site’s interactive test to guess what you could make from all the parts of the animal.

–  Some bison though, were revered beyond all that they could provide for Native people. A white bison is extremely rare, appearing once in approximately five million births. For this reason, these animals are considered sacred and possess great spiritual power to Native and non-Native people alike. Given this extreme rarity, where could you ever see one now?! The Montana Historical Society in Helena displays “Big Medicine,” a white buffalo who died in 1959. With blue eyes, tan hooves, and a brown topknot, there’s still plenty of reasons to revere the beauty of this extraordinary specimen today.

"White Medicine" on view at the Montana Historical Society

“Big Medicine” on view at the Montana Historical Society

– As rare as Big Medicine is, perhaps no bison has the hometown spirit of “On the Wind,” the massive bronze bison who greets visitors to the History Colorado Center in Denver. He’s been seen wearing bandannas when the stock show comes to town, a Broncos jersey during football season, and even a bike helmet during the recent Pro Challenge cycling race through the state. He’s also an important reminder of the stories told inside the Center about the historic relationship between bison and the peoples of the West.

– To travel even further back in time, check out the archeological remains of a gigantic Ice Age bison at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Excavated from the Colorado Rockies, this iconic specimen and its neighbors represent one of the most significant fossil discoveries ever made in Colorado.  How gigantic was it?  Twice the size of a modern bison!  How do we know?  It had a horn spread more than 7’ wide (compared with the 2 ½’ spread of the modern buffalo).

HistoryCObison

“On the Wind” in Denver reflects the community

– If you’re finding it hard to imagine the size of a modern bison without actually seeing one, the South Dakota State Historical Society can help you out.  They’ve devised a fun 30-page coloring sheet called How Big is a Buffalo. Bison make quite an appearance in the Society’s education kits, which include objects, lesson plans, worksheets and ideas for additional activities. The Buffalo and Plains Indians, Lewis and Clark, and Archeology kits are just a few that explore all facets of this great American species.

– Lest you think the Affiliate bison only roam west of the Mississippi, think again.  The Mashantucket Pequot Museum in Connecticut is currently displaying The Bison: American Icon exhibition, which explores “the dramatic changes that occurred to the bison and its habitat, and to the people who depended on it for their daily existence.” At the end of September, the Museum invites visitors to take the Bison Challenge – an outdoor activity that will test your speed, strength, and senses against the performance of a bison.  Good luck!

Bison: American Icon exhibit on view at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum

The Bison: American Icon exhibit on view at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum

As the song goes, “oh give me a home. “  It’s gratifying to see how many Affiliate “homes” across America celebrate the iconic bison, and that the Smithsonian will soon provide two of them a home in the nation’s capital.

How does your museum interpret the mighty bison? (We’re looking at you Idaho and Oklahoma)  Tell us your stories!

 

(Footnote:  “bison” and “buffalo” are often used interchangeably.  Culturally this is correct; scientifically it is not.  Technically, bison and buffalo are not the same animal. Click here to compare their differences.)

 

buffalomeThe author is a National Outreach Manager in Smithsonian Affiliations, and a long-time buffalophile.

 

kudos affiliates! september 2014 accomplishments

Congrats to all Affiliates on your recent accomplishments!

Funding
The Berkshire Museum (Pittsfield MA) has been awarded $83,600 in energy incentive grants from the Berkshire Gas Co. and the Western Massachusetts Electric Co. The grants will be used as partial funding for a project that will incorporate energy efficiency measures in the museum’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, which is necessary to protect the museum’s collections of art, historical objects and natural specimens.

The Putnam Museum (Davenport IA) has received a $5,000 Cultural Leadership Partners Project Grant from the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Grant funds will support the Quad-Cities Jewish Heritage Traveling Exhibit, a project supported by the Jewish Federation of the Quad-Cities and guest curator, Dr. Art Pitz. The exhibit of photos, graphics and text will trace Jewish history in the Quad-City region and will appear at public libraries and other locations beginning in early 2015.

The Ohio Arts Council awarded sustainability grants of $12,998 to the Springfield Museum of Art (Springfield OH).  They can be used toward advertising, a print newsletter, new lights, art education and exhibition programs.

The Frontiers of Flight Museum (Dallas TX) has received a $20,000 grant to support a traveling exhibit on American prisoners of war. The gift from the UPS Foundation will pay for special educational tours for 640 students and will enable 500 former POWs and their families to see the exhibit for free. “Victory From Within: The American Prisoner of War Experience” examines life as a POW from the Civil War through modern times.


Leadership
George Jacob,  former executive director of the Ellen Noel Art Museum (Odessa TX) has accepted the position of President of the International Museum of Art & Science (McAllen TX).