Affiliates in the news!

Congrats to these Affiliates making news!  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.

Birthplace of Country Music Museum (Bristol, VA)
1-YEAR-OLD Birthplace of Country Music Museum reflects on success, but work ahead
“Our goal going forward is to make sure we’re reaching different audiences in different ways. “I think we need to serve a broader public. One of our goals is to reach audiences who don’t think they’re interested in the Bristol Sessions.” 

UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio, TX)
Exhibition in Texas Depicts The Legacy Of Sikhs & Punjab
“We’ve been in America for over 100 years,” Singh says. “Yet no one knows or has heard about us.” In hopes of changing that, Singh partnered with UTSA’s Institute of Texan Cultures to help bring an updated version of the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibit, Sikhs: Legacy of the Punjab, to San Antonio. 


The Wolfsonian (Miami, FL)
Wolfsonian exhibit explores the artistry and social implications of the Newcomb Pottery Enterprise
The traveling exhibition, organized by the Newcomb Art Gallery in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institute’s Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), also features jewelry, metalwork, needlework, linoleum prints and bookbinding. A lavish and scholarly catalog complements the ample wall texts and typically elegant presentation in the sixth-floor galleries. The Wolfsonian has contributed a fine audio guide, collateral programming and its own American Arts and Crafts-style artisan display tables.

PinPoint: On Newcomb Pottery at The Wolfsonian, Florida International University
Women, Art, and Social Change is an exciting complement to The Wolfsonian’s core collection, with the lifespan of Newcomb Pottery aligning closely with the collecting period of the museum,” stated curatorial and exhibitions assistant Whitney Richardson, who is organizing The Wolfsonian’s presentation of the exhibition.

24de926e39ccf2e4e9a0b115028fea581fab7341North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Raleigh, NC)
Where the Wild Things Aren’t: Cats Avoid Places Coyotes Roam
“Domestic cats are estimated to kill billions of birds and small mammals each year,” says lead author Roland Kays, a zoologist with NC State’s College of Natural Resources and the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. “Knowing where they hunt helps assess the risk to wildlife.” The study is part of the eMammal project, which enables citizen scientists to collaborate with researchers at the Smithsonian Institution and NC State University to document animal activity. Co-author Robert Costello is with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Tavis Forrester, Megan C. Baker and William McShea are with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, PA)
Smithsonian exhibit sets out how Pittsburgh region propelled war victory
As a part of the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the beginning of World War II, the Heinz History Center will host guest speaker Dr. Jeremy Kinney. The curator from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum will discuss the Pittsburgh area’s integral aeronautics contributions to the Allied Forces victory. 

We Did It! History center looks back at WWII

g_cover_22106399_ver1.0_640_480Memphis Rock ‘N’ Soul Museum (Memphis, TN)
Housing History: Memphis Music Hall of Fame opens its doors on Beale Street
“We’re almost there,” says John Doyle, executive director of the Smithsonian-[affiliated] Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, which has overseen the development and creation of the Hall. “We’ve got a few more touches and final things to get ready, but it’s almost a reality.”

National Museum of American Jewish History (Philadelphia, PA)
Richard Avedon: Family Affairs
Additions to the NMAJH show include a photograph of a 12-year-old Avedon with his colleagues in the YHMA Camera Club; an Avedon self-portrait as a teenager with classmate James Baldwin, both reflected in a mirror; Avedon with his large format camera, photographed by Ginsberg; an installation photo from Avedon’s 1962 exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution;

National Inventors Hall of Fame (US Patent And Trademark Office) (North Canton, OH)
Smithsonian to host innovation festival at National Museum of American History
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will host an innovation festival September 26 and 27 as a signature event of the collaboration between the Smithsonian and the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Thirteen companies, universities, government agencies and independent inventors, selected by a juried panel, will participate in the festival, which will explore how today’s inventors are creating the world of the future

Allen Ginsberg’s Family, Paterson, New Jersey, May 3, 1970. Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation. From the Collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Gift of the American Contemporary Art Foundation, Leonard A. Lauder, President, to American Friends of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Allen Ginsberg’s Family, Paterson, New Jersey, May 3, 1970. Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation. From the Collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Gift of the American Contemporary Art Foundation, Leonard A. Lauder, President, to American Friends of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem

The Children’s Museum of the Upstate (Greenville, SC)
Innoskate spotlights Greenville’s skateboard culture
The aim of Innoskate is “to change perceptions about skateboarding, to educate people about the science and the innovation behind the sport, and also, to really think about skateboarding as a way to bring life back into communities that are in need,” Halverson said.

Innoskate at the Children’s Museum (VIDEO)

Mississippi Department of Archives and History (Jackson, MS)
Old MHP command bus could end up in Smithsonian

South Dakota State Historical Society (Pierre, SD)
Sioux horse effigy returned to Cultural Heritage Center
“We wanted to do something special to mark the return of the effigy to South Dakota,” said Jay Smith, museum director for the State Historical Society. “We are designing a new display for the effigy that will include loaned effigies from the State Historical Society of North Dakota and the National Museum of the American Indian.”

kudos Affiliates! September 2015

Affiliates end the summer with great news from the National Endowment for the Humanities and impressive accomplishments all around.  Bravo!


The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced $36.6 million in grants for 212 humanities projects including the following Affiliate awarded initiatives:

Project Title: American Indian Boarding Schools: History and Legacy, Transition in American Indian Boarding Schools Project
Description: Planning for the reinterpretation and expansion of a permanent exhibition, two traveling exhibitions, and a catalog that would examine the experience of Native American youth in boarding and tribal schools from the nineteenth century to the present.

  • Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT ($168,134)

Project Title: The American Maritime Commons Project
Description: A five-week institute for twenty college and university faculty on America’s maritime history.

  • Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson, MS ($253,293)

Project Title: Mississippi Digital Newspaper Project, Phase Two

Project Title: Demon Times: Temperance, Immigration, and Progressivism Project
Description: Two one-week workshops for seventy-two school teachers on temperance and immigration in the Progressive Era.

Project Title: From Immigrants to Citizens: Asian Pacific Americans in the Northwest Project Description: Two one-week workshops for seventy-two school teachers to explore the histories and cultures of Asian immigrants in the Pacific Northwest and their significance to the nation.

Project title: Optimization of the Preservation Environment
Description: For preservation, collections and building management stakeholders to work collaboratively to achieve the best possible preservation environment, with the least possible energy consumption, that is both sustainable and appropriate to the particular collections that reside within the Center’s walls.

  • Tsongas Industrial History Center, Lowell, MA  (UMass Lowell + National Park Service)  ($161,988)

Project Title: Inventing America: Lowell and the Industrial Revolution Project
Description: Two one-week workshops for seventy-two school teachers on the textile industry in Lowell, Massachusetts, as a case study of early nineteenth-century industrialization.

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) announced that the organization will be awarding a $7,120 grant to the Museum of Appalachia (Clinton, TN), to aid with the Peter’s Homestead Roof Preservation and Restoration Project on an early 1800’s rare saddle bag style log house in Appalachian Pioneer Village.

The Boeing Company and Mrs. June Boeing, wife of the late William E. Boeing, Jr., announced a philanthropic partnership, each contributing $15 million to significantly expand science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education offered through The Museum of Flight (Seattle, WA). These investments will launch the Boeing Academy for STEM Learning, a vigorous, new STEM-focused education initiative that aims to double the number of students served by the Museum’s immersive programs over the next two years, particularly from communities underrepresented in STEM fields, and connect them to fulfilling, in-demand jobs.

Ultimaker, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of 3D printers, based in the Netherlands, recently gifted nine new 3D printers valued at nearly $21,000, to the Maker Studio at Union Station Kansas City’s Science Center, Science City (Kansas City, MO). The donation will allow better support of STEAM education during walk-up workshops and demos, school field trips, professional development programs for teachers, and special events.

The South Dakota State Historical Society (Pierre, SD) has received a $25,000 challenge grant from Pierre philanthropist Mansour Karim to fund an event for the Great Sioux Horse Effigy Return Celebration scheduled for October 10-12, 2015.

Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden (Staten Island, NY) is one of several Staten Island cultural organizations to receive a share of almost $1.8 million for various infrastructure projects by the city.

Virgin America announced an education-themed partnership with the Frontiers of Flight Museum (Dallas, TX). As part of the partnership, the Burlingame, California-based airline will provide scholarships for students enrolled in the organization’s Flight School and other educational programs.


Lynn Kelly, Chief Executive Officer and President of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden (Staten Island, NY), has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC).


The American Jazz Museum (Kansas City, MO) announced the appointment of Ralph Reid as interim CEO. Reid retired this year from Sprint, where he was a Vice President and President of the Sprint Foundation.


Back to school webcasts for everyone!

The Smithsonian has archived webcasts available for use in all types of programming.  Show a webcast and discuss local connections afterward, or partner with an expert to answer questions and discuss with your audience.  Webcasts can help organizations connect with schools or under-served audiences.  Use a webcast to start the conversation and connect with your mission!  Below is a listing of some of the webcast resources available at the Smithsonian.

Smithsonian Science How, from the National Museum of Natural History (note upcoming live webcast schedule.)

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

National Air and Space Museum

National Museum of American History

National Museum of the American Indian

National Portrait Gallery

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Smithsonian Folkways podcasts

Smithsonian Institution Libraries

Smithsonian Latino Center

Smithsonian Museum Studies (Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access)

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

National Zoological Park: webcams (including the always popular Pandacam!)

And did you know the Smithsonian compiles all of its resources for educators online? Check it out here!

Finally, check out the Smithsonian Videos YouTube channel for more ideas.

Do you have online webcast resources you’d like to share? Let us know!


Coming Up in Affiliateland in September 2015

Summer is winding down but Affiliates are busy with great programs as fall begins.

The Friends of the Polk Museum of Art will enjoy behind-the-scenes tours at the Smithsonian, visiting several museums and research centers in Washington, 9.9-9.12.

The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra will give a concert at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, 9.26.

Two Smithsonian scholars will speak as part of the Acadia Night Sky Festival organized in part by the Abbe Museum.  Curator John Grant from the National Air and Space Museum will talk about his research on Mars, and Alasdair Davey, researcher and astronomer from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory will present his latest solar research in Bar Harbor, 9.10-9.12.

The Asian American Resource Center (part of the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department) will open the I Want the Wide American Earth exhibition from SITES in Austin, 9.19.

Over 95 Affiliates will participate in Smithsonian Museum Day Live! on 9.26.

Is this exhibit on your event horizon?

The exhibition Black Holes: Space Warps & Time Twists pulls visitors in to the modern search for real black holes–the most mysterious and powerful objects in the universe.

A view from the Black Holes exhibition.

A view from the Black Holes exhibition.

Developed by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, this 2,500 square-foot exhibition consists of 13 interactive components that captivate audiences and increase their understanding of core ideas in physical science, including gravity and light, the tools and techniques of astronomers, and the nature of theory and evidence in science. Visitors are able to:
– Collect and record their discoveries into a personal web journal
– Take an immersive interactive journey to the giant black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy
– Explore gravity and the effects of unseen forces
– Collect and weigh evidence for black holes.

Evaluations of this NSF and NASA-sponsored exhibition document strong visitor engagement and significant gains in visitor interest and knowledge about black holes and how they are studied.

Smithsonian Affiliates are eligible for a significant discount on the cost of renting this exhibition from ASTC this fall, plus free program materials and training for host-site educators from scientists and educators at Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

For more information, contact Mary Dussault at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory at 617.496.7962 or

Also visit these websites:
ASTC description of Black Holes
BlackHolesExhibit.Org (Exhibition Website)

Starting a teen docent program

Special thanks to guest author Brittany Vernon, IMLS Apprentice at Ohio Affiliate, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, for this inspiring post.

Freedom Center Apprentice Brittany Vernon comes to Washington to work with education colleagues at the Anacostia Community Museum

Freedom Center Apprentice Brittany Vernon comes to Washington to work with education colleagues at the Anacostia Community Museum

As an emerging museum professional, my current position as an IMLS Apprentice at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, OH, is centered on learning as much as I can within the field while also gaining valuable work experience in my areas of interests. My passions are African American history and culture and public outreach to underrepresented people in museums, so the work that I do for the Freedom Center reflects that. As a co-leader of the museum’s Youth Docent Program, I get to reach out to local high school students, get them excited about what the Freedom Center offers through training seminars, and encourage them to volunteer as tour guides during their summer vacation. Yes, you read that right: teens + museum + volunteering + summer vacation – it seems impossible and certainly makes for a daunting task. It is also one of the most rewarding projects because of the personal growth and development each student experiences throughout the course of the program once they’re hooked.

Now, when it came time to choose where I would spend my 3-week IMLS internship away from the Freedom Center, I wanted to choose a museum that was engaging in similar work. And for anyone with aspirations of working in the museum field, working in a Smithsonian museum in Washington D.C. represents the ultimate in education and museum leadership (besides being a total dream come true!). In picking a museum, I knew the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum [ACM] would be the perfect fit for me because of its focus on urban community issues and populations and its desire to engage teen audiences by starting a youth docent program.

Brittany models the kinds of tours that teens might give of ACM's How the Civil War Changed Washington exhibition.

Brittany models the kinds of tours that teens might give of ACM’s How the Civil War Changed Washington exhibition.

Using existing models including those at the Freedom Center and other Smithsonian Affiliate Museums, the ACM tasked me with creating a guide for a Youth Docent Program that they could implement in upcoming school years. After a week of research, tours and interviews with adult docents and Education staff at the ACM, I was ready to put together a plan. My proposed Youth Docent Program offers teens an opportunity to learn how to interpret museum content for the public and improve their own interpersonal skills and then earn community service hours by giving tours. Through monthly training sessions, teens learn about the content that the museum holds, and that it really is a place for them. Guest speakers and trips expose them to arts/culture-related career options. Finally, through research and writing assignments, teens feel empowered by the knowledge they now hold and are able to share with the public.

The ACM is not alone in its struggle to get teens into its space. Museums across the nation have trouble attracting and retaining the interest of teenagers that for the most part would rather be on their phones than walking through a museum. But from my experiences, a youth docent program is the perfect first step in addressing the gap. When you hook teens with things they already enjoy like spending time with like-minded peers, social media, field trips, games and a guaranteed resume building opportunity, they are more willing to invest and learn a lot along the way. The end result is a group of teens that will advocate for your museum and encourage their family and friends to visit if not only to see the teens in action.

Bringing fresh and youthful voices into museum settings that are sometimes thought of as static and rigid only adds to the wealth of knowledge that institutions like this hold, and shows that museums really can serve a purpose for people from all stages and walks of life, which I am all about. I encourage every museum to start some form of teen outreach if they haven’t already.

Brittany passionately pursues African American history and culture, and issues of freedom and social justice in her museum career.

Brittany passionately pursues African American history and culture, and issues of freedom and social justice in her museum career.

Now that I am back at the Freedom Center, I look forward to continuing my work with the Youth Docent Program with a new group of students this year. I also know that the new Youth Docent Program at the Anacostia Community Museum will be successful in its efforts to connect more with teenagers in the Anacostia neighborhood. Hopefully in a few years, it can evolve to serve as a model for peer institutions that may have similar goals.

Special thanks to IMLS, Smithsonian Affiliations, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center for giving me the opportunity to have this experience.