Smithsonian Affiliations at 25: Chapter 2- National Youth Summits

Affiliations Anniversary Series: 25 Years in Your Neighborhood
Chapter 2: National Youth Summits

Catch up on Chapter 1: The Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion here.

The late John Lewis seated next to filmmaker Stanley Nelson on stage at the National Youth Summit

The Late Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) and filmmaker Stanley Nelson at the 2011 National Youth Summit on Freedom Rides. Photo courtesy National Museum of American History.

Engaging younger audiences has always been a goal of the Affiliate network. As an ongoing reflection of the past 25 years of working with our Affiliates, this month we focus on the role of the National Youth Summit and the regional youth conversations produced by Affiliates to complement and amplify the Smithsonian’s national program.

In 2010, Smithsonian Affiliations met with colleagues at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History on a concept for a new program— one in which students confront enduring questions of power, representation, privilege, and choice through peer-to-peer discussions, individual reflections, and shared action planning. The National Youth Summit would take place at the National Museum of American History, while Affiliates would host regional youth summits to amplify and augment the national program, allowing middle and high school students in Affiliate communities to discuss local issues.

With the assistance of five Affiliate museums, the first National Youth Summit launched on February 9, 2011, and commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Freedom Rides. The Summit featured Freedom Ride veterans and scholars discussing civic activism and the history of the Freedom Rides. Since that original program, there have been seven Youth Summits with Affiliate collaboration, with topics ranging from women’s suffrage to systemic racism, Japanese American incarceration to the war on poverty, and featured speakers like the late Congressman John Lewis-(D-GA) and documentarian Ken Burns.

five people sit on a stage in an auditorium filled with young people

National Youth Summit at the Japanese American National Museum. Photo courtesy JANM.

The topics are national, but the impact is local. Affiliates exemplify this with customized programs for local students—programs that reflect the demographics and lived experiences of youth in their community and center the community’s history through museum programming and interpretation. Over the past decade, the regional summits have reached thousands of young people and inspired numerous discussions about important events in America’s past that have relevance to the nation’s present and future.

Auditoriam at the birmingham civil rights institute

National Youth Summit at Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Photo courtesy Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

The National Youth Summit with Affiliate regional conversations continues to grow and play a vital role. By extending the reach to schools who might otherwise not be able to participate, by expanding historical content available through the program, and by creating deeply meaningful learning that relates to the actual lived experiences of students in underrepresented communities, Affiliates continue to show why they are critical venues for a national conversation.

An eighth Youth Summit is in the works for Fall 2021. Until then, catch up on past programs and conversation kits on the National Youth Summit website.

Stay tuned next month for Chapter 3: Smithsonian Speakers on the Road, in our 25th anniversary series.

Coming Up in Affiliateland in May 2021

Spring continues to bloom at Affiliates! 

MISSOURI

Billie Holiday on stage at Sugar Hill

Billie Holiday on stage at Sugar Hill, Newark, New Jersey, April, 1957. All photographs © 2018 Jerry Dantzic/ Jerry Dantzic Archives. All rights reserved.

The American Jazz Museum will open the SITES’ exhibition Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill, in Kansas City, 5.8.

MARYLAND
Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony, curator at the National Air and Space Museum, will give a virtual lecture on her new book Operation Moonglow for Historic Annapolis, hosted in Annapolis, 5.4.

MICHIGAN
Dr. Muir-Harmony will also talk about Operation Moonglow for the audiences of the Yankee Air Museum, hosted from Belleville, 5.5.

NEW YORK
As part of its Environments Examined series, the Rockwell Museum will host a virtual panel with scientists from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and National Air and Space Museum, From High Tech Science to High Tech Art: Transforming Data into Action, hosted from Corning, 5.27.

Kudos Affiliates! May 2021

Congratulations to these Affiliates on their recent accomplishments! Do you have kudos to share? Please send potential entries to Aaron Glavas, GlavasC@si.edu.

FUNDING

The Minnesota Historical Society announced the newest recipients of 30 Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Small Grants including The Bakken Museum (Minneapolis, MN). The Museum received $9,994 to process the Earl Bakken Legacy Collection, allowing for greater public access to these resources. The Bakken Museum will also be a core research partner as part of a $1.5 million grant awarded to Binghamton University faculty. The grant will help improve makerspace learning for youth.

Frank Leta Honda has donated two new 2020 Honda Odyssey minivans to the Saint Louis Science Center (Saint Louis, MO) to transport Youth Exploring Science (YES) Program teens and Science Center educators to events during the summer as COVID-19 safety protocols allow. The YES Program was founded to help teens, particularly those from underserved communities, to recognize their potential in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) career fields.

Framingham State University (Framingham, MA) has been awarded a $62,250 grant from the Massachusetts Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) to coordinate a multi-day Racial Equity Policy Review Institute. Designed for up to 150 leaders within the campus community, participants will gain a better understanding of systemic racism in higher education and how it manifests on campus, be able to define what a racist policy is and how it shows up in student outcomes, and create an initial yearlong plan to undertake policy review.

History Colorado (Denver, CO), Hagley Museum (Wilmington, DE) and USS Constitution Museum  (Boston, MA) were among several Affiliates awarded humanity grants from The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Grant awards support the preservation of historic collections, humanities exhibitions and documentaries, scholarly research, and curriculum projects.

  • History Colorado was awarded a Media Projects Production grant for $310,536 to support the production of the Lost Highways Podcast series, an eight-episode offering focused on Colorado and Western history. History Colorado also received an Exhibitions-Implementation grant for $400,000 for The Sand Creek Massacre Exhibition. The permanent exhibition details the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre of Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal members.
  • Hagley Museum and Library ($194,400) and Center for Jewish History (New York, NY) ($153,292), each received a Fellowship Programs grant. The grants will support 12 months of stipend support for 1–3 fellowships per year for two to three years.
  • USS Constitution Museum will receive a Dialogues on the Experience of War grant for $96,264 to develop Sailors Speak: The Impact of War on Naval Veterans, their Families, and the Country. The award will be used for the training of facilitators to lead three discussion series for naval veterans and their families, based on historical documents and material culture from the War of 1812 and the post-9/11 wars.
  • City Lore (New York, NY) was awarded an Exhibitions-Planning grant for $75,000 to create a traveling exhibit about the 1970s Federal Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA), that provided work for artists.
  • American Jewish Historical Society (New York City, NY), part of the Center for Jewish History, received $131,681 for a Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant for The People’s Relief Committee Project to preserve and digitize materials that document the work of the People’s Relief Committee for Jewish War Sufferers (1915–1924), an American Jewish organization that sought to help Jewish communities and individuals in Europe during and after World War I.

The Rhode Island Historical Society (Providence, RI) received a donation of $50,000 from Walmart to pay for the creation of a curriculum to teach Black history and heritage in the local schools. The curriculum will include lesson plans, teacher training, and virtual learning tools.

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

The Rockwell Museum (Corning, NY) announced Janelle Steiner, events coordinator, and Kate Swanson, interpretation and public engagement educator, have been selected to participate in The Museum Association of New York’s (MANY) “Building Capacity, Creating Sustainability, Growing Accessibility” program. The IMLS Cares Act grant project is designed to help museums impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic share their collections and reach audiences who cannot physically visit their museums. In this two-year program, museums will identify an event or project to deliver virtually to their audiences, focusing on developing programs from stories found in their collections that reveal cultural and racial diversity in their communities.

LEADERSHIP

Stephanie Haught Wade was named the new director of Historic Arkansas Museum (Little Rock, AR). Wade has been a historian with the Department of Arkansas Heritage since 2017, where she managed the Arkansas Historical Marker Program and was a member and administrator of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemoration Committee. She began work on April 5.

“See Me” workshop with Access Smithsonian

Professional Development Opportunity: Developing and Implementing Programming for Adults Living with Dementia and Their Care Partners

four people participate in a workshop at an art museumAccess Smithsonian invites Smithsonian Affiliates to participate in a virtual professional development training workshop on the development and implementation of programming for adults living with dementia and their care partners. The two-day workshop, June 17-18, 2021, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time, will present attendees with tools and strategies on how to adapt the See Me model at their organizations. Led by Access Smithsonian staff and contractors, topics will include: our approach, active listening & close looking, program content development, shifting from on-site to virtual learning, meeting the needs of our participants, and a program demonstration.

Created by Access Smithsonian, See Me at the Smithsonian has made it possible for people with dementia and their care partners to continue to enjoy Smithsonian museums, engage with the Smithsonian’s most beloved objects, sustain lifelong learning, and connect with and contribute to a larger community. Since our pilot in 2017, See Me now includes seven participating Smithsonian museums, relationships with community-based care facilities, See Me en Español, and a virtual model for delivering See Me to individuals in their homes and larger groups residing in assisted living facilities and memory care units. Most importantly, Access Smithsonian has remained connected to its audiences throughout the COVID-19 pandemic providing opportunities for intellectual engagement, socialization, and stress reduction.

Register for the workshop here.

A workshop instructor stands in front of a seated group and points to a large black and white painting

The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s is growing. One in nine Americans age 65 and older is living with Alzheimer’s dementia, and it is anticipated this population will more than double by 2050. Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has further laid bare the vulnerabilities of adults living with Alzheimer’s dementia. Museum-based programs like See Me offer positive emotional and cognitive experiences, enhance verbal and non-verbal communication, reduce isolation and depression, and build social networks – for both individuals with dementia and their care partners.

Live captioning will be provided for the workshop. Other access services (e.g., ASL, audio description, etc.) are available upon request.

A person in a red tshirt seated at a green table paintsRegister for the workshop here. For more information about applications, please contact Ashley Grady, Senior Program Manager, Access Smithsonian, at GradyA@si.edu.

All photos courtesy of Access Smithsonian.

The Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion Highlights the Best of Affiliate – Smithsonian collaboration

Three people stand in front of an exhibition at its opening.

The director of the Peoria Riverfront Museum, community leader, and Affiliations Director Emeritus Harold Closter stand in front of the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion at its debut opening in Illinois in 2008.

During the Affiliations annual conference in 2007, an Affiliate director marveled at a red sandalwood carving on display in the Ripley Center on the Smithsonian’s campus. The structure was one-fifth scale model of the celebrated and intricate classical Chinese pavilion that stands within the Forbidden City in the heart of Beijing, the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion.

The director of Lakeview Museum (now Peoria Riverfront Museum in Illinois) had been exploring ways to connect with the local Chinese community and inquired about the availability of the exhibition. After a series of conversations with staff from the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute, the exhibition was approved for travel. This simple inquiry sparked a national tour that reached several Affiliate communities and connected with thousands of visitors.

What is the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion exactly? Made by Chinese artisans using traditional Chinese carving and fine furniture techniques, the model captures the beauty of the original pavilion, and is an outstanding example of traditional Chinese carving. Artisans at the China Red Sandalwood Museum constructed the model of red sandalwood, treasured for its dark glossy color and musty floral fragrance. No nails are used; the entire structure is put together with mortise-and-tenon joinery. The China Red Sandalwood Museum in Beijing donated the model to the Smithsonian.

Pieces of the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion are laid out on the floor prior to assembly.

The Pavilion’s thousands of pieces are unpacked from customized crates and laid out prior to assembly.

Obviously, the Pavilion was no ordinary exhibition. The model contains 3,000 individual pieces packed into special crates constructed specifically to fit each piece into its own slot. Design and installation advice was provided in both English and Mandarin, and the Smithsonian provided files of photo murals and bilingual labels for Affiliates’ use.

Still, the Pavilion’s specialized construction and installation required specialized expertise. In another stroke of collaboration serendipity, the former senior furniture conservator at the Museum Conservation Institute, Don Williams, was available to travel to Affiliate sites to both assemble and dissemble the Pavilion. In whichever Affiliate city Don traveled, he recruited volunteers from the “Professional Refinishers Group” from across the country to travel to Affiliate cities to assist with the installation.

Expert Smithsonian furniture conservator Don Williams dusts the roof of the Pavilion.

Senior Smithsonian furniture conservator Don Williams accompanied the Pavilion to all of its stops, overseeing installation and deinstallation.

 

 

A volunteer carefully installs the top piece of the Pavilion.

A volunteer expert carefully places the crowning decoration atop the Pavilion.

 

The Pavilion traveled to five Affiliates between 2008-2013. Its tour after Peoria included the International Museum of Arts and Sciences in McAllen and the Irving Arts Center in Irving, TX; Flushing Town Hall in Queens, New York; and the Headley-Whitney Museum, a former Affiliate in Lexington, KY;.

A child makes Chinese lanterns from art supplies.

Crafting Chinese lanterns was one of the many educational programs that Affiliates created to celebrate the Pavilion in their cities.

In every city that hosted the Pavilion, the Affiliate was able to craft significant and meaningful outreach to its Chinese community. Programming included traditional Chinese art workshops such as calligraphy and tea ceremony, as well as presentations on tai chi, traditional medicine, folklore and opera. For the Pavilion’s opening ceremonies, Affiliates invited the Chinese diplomats from their cities, and featured traditional dance troupes. Community relationships forged as a result of the Pavilion flourish still.

While in Flushing Queens, our collaboration saw yet another instance of serendipity. Volunteers assembled at Flushing Town Hall to unpack the Pavilion a day before Don Williams was able to arrive. They had some trouble deciphering the unpacking directions. Flushing Town Hall sits in the center of one of the largest Chinese immigrant communities in America, so a staff member suggested they seek the help of a local resident. A waiter from a nearby restaurant was recruited to translate the instructions from Mandarin so the team could lay out all the pieces to be ready when Don arrived.

Such is the magic—and impact—of Smithsonian and Affiliate collaborations.

The fully assembled Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion made from sandalwood.

The beautifully completed Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion in Flushing, New York (thanks in part to a waiter in a Chinese restaurant near the gallery!)

Coming Up in Affiliateland in April 2021

Happy Earth Month everyone!

A museum visitor looks at a display of various people of color.

“The Bias Inside Us” features Spanish photographer Angélica Dass’ Humanae project, which reflects on the color of skin that challenges the concept of race. Photo by Science Museum of Minnesota.

IOWA
The Bias Inside Us exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service opens at the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, 4.17.

PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rican Affiliates, the Museo de Arte and Museo y Centro de Estudios Humanísticos, offer a workshop on The Conservation of Caribbean Culture: Training Future Conservators of Cultural Patrimony, 4.19-23.

MASSACHUSETTS
Teen filmmakers in the McAuliffe Center’s STEM mentorship program will present their ideas for addressing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as part of Framingham State University’s Science on State Street Fair: Planet Earth Edition, 4.20.

The Springfield Museums will feature Dr. Joyce Bedi, historian at the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History, for a talk on Who Invented the Environment?, in Springfield, 4.22.

A scientist examines a skull.

Dr. Kari Bruwelheide measuring a cranium. Image Credit: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution.

OHIO
Dr. Kari Bruwelheide, forensic anthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History, will lead a virtual workshop for teachers as part of the Rethinking Jamestown professional development activities organized by the Springfield Museum of Art, in Springfield, 4.21-22.

NEW YORK
The Rockwell Museum will host a virtual dialogue with guest curator Emily Zilber and curator-in-charge Nora Atkinson about the Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020 exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery as part of the Museum’s Environments Examined Spring 2021 lecture series, in Corning, 4.29.