2017 Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference


The Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference is October 2-4, 2017!

Join us this year for even more insightful sessions, hands-on workshops, exclusive tours and endless opportunity to network with your fellow Affiliate and Smithsonian colleagues. Get an overview of all our locations with the Conference Map.

See who is attending!

Conference Hotel:
Holiday Inn-Washington Capitol
The rate is $250 per night; book by August 31 to enjoy this special rate.

Registration is open!
Registration includes all evening events, sessions, and workshops on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday excursions not included. Additional reception guests not included.

Registration rates:
Early Bird Registration – $275 per person (Early Bird rate ends August 1)
Regular Registration – $300 per person
Group Registration – $250 per person for groups of 4 or more
Daily Registration – $100 per day for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday not included.

2017 conference image collage

The Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference is for current Smithsonian Affiliates only. If you are interested in becoming a Smithsonian Affiliate, and for all conference-related activities, questions or comments, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee, Communications and Professional Development Manager, (202) 633-5304; BugbeeE@si.edu

If you are interested in exhibitor opportunities at the Smithsonian Affiliations Resource Fair or Conference sponsorship, please contact Christina DiMeglio Lopez, dimeglioc@si.edu.

Conference support is provided in part by:

Affiliations National Conference Schedule

Please note, titles, speakers, and session summaries are subject to change as we finalize the content.

Monday, October 2

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m       Pre-scheduled meetings with Smithsonian staff
(Affiliates interested in meeting with specific Smithsonian staff members must contact their Affiliations National Outreach Manager to pre-arrange a meeting)

10:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.   Conference Registration
Lobby, Holiday Inn Washington-Capitol

1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.      Workshop 1: Smithsonian Learning Lab
Room 4018/19, National Museum of the American Indian
Darren Milligan, Senior Digital Strategist, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
Ashley Naranjo, Learning Initiatives Specialist, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
Stephanie Norby, Director, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
Philippa Rappoport, Community Engagement Programs Manager
You don’t have to be a tech expert to learn how the Smithsonian Learning Lab (learninglab.si.edu) can connect your museum with teacher and student audiences. In this hands-on workshop, you’ll see how Affiliate museums have been using the (free!) Smithsonian Learning Lab to lead a youth digital curation project and to collaborate with the Smithsonian on teacher professional development. The workshop will focus on heritage and cultural themes, in which you can pair your museum’s digitized collections with the Smithsonian’s to gain visibility. You’ll learn enough to get started with the Smithsonian Learning Lab no matter the subject.

1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.      Workshop 2: The Virtues of Virtual Curation: What Can 3D Do For You?
SC Johnson Center, National Museum of American History
Bernard K. Means, Director, Virtual Curation Laboratory, Instructor of Anthropology, Virginia Commonwealth University
Elizabeth Moore, Curator of Archaeology, Virginia Museum of Natural History
This workshop will introduce attendees to the potential for virtual curation to extend museum collections from a fixed, physical place to the unlimited boundaries of the internet. Covering 3D scanning and 3D printing, Drs. Means and Moore will demonstrate ways of documenting, preserving, and sharing objects. Discover ways to begin incorporating 3D into exhibits and education and take home resources and best practices for using 3D to move beyond a museums brick-and-mortar foundations.

1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.      Workshop 3: Protecting Cultural Heritage, from Mosul to Mullins: The Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative
Patron’s Lounge, National Museum of the American Indian
Corine Wegener, Director, Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI)
Lori Foley, Administrator, Heritage Emergency National Task Force, FEMA/SI
Stacy Bowe, Training Coordinator, SCRI
Rebecca Kennedy, Preservation Specialist, National Postal Museum
Throughout its history, the Smithsonian has championed the protection of cultural heritage in its own museums. But it also engages in the protection of cultural heritage beyond its doors, both internationally and domestically. Learn how SCRI has helped cultural heritage stewards in countries such as Haiti, Nepal, and Iraq safeguard their collections following a disaster. Then learn how SCRI, as co-sponsor with FEMA of the Heritage Emergency National Task Force, provides guidance and resources to cultural heritage stewards following major disasters in the U.S. The workshop will conclude with an interactive tabletop exercise where participants are asked to document a (hypothetically) damaged collection in a salvage situation.

4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.      Affiliate Orientation
Smithsonian Castle Commons
All registered attendees are invited to join and help our first-timers learn about the benefits of being Smithsonian Affiliates. Speakers will share advice on getting the most out of your Affiliation. Meet new colleagues and ask questions!

6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.      Welcome Reception
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Lerner Room, 3rd Floor
All registered conference attendees are invited to kick the conference off among the international modern and contemporary works of art in the Hirshhorn Museum.

Tuesday, October 3

8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.      Conference Registration
4th Floor, National Museum of the American Indian

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.   Opening Keynote
The Future of Social Impact Storytelling: What Will Change, What Won’t and Why It Matters
Rasmuson Theater, National Museum of the American Indian
John D. Trybus, Managing Director & Adjunct Professor, Center for Social Impact Communication, Georgetown University
Everywhere you turn within the social impact sector, there’s talk about the power of storytelling. And for good reason. Effective stories create action – they can build movements, mobilize supporters, win elections, and yes, spur donations. Stories bring a museum’s impact and work to life. John Trybus will share findings from two applied research studies into what the future of storytelling for social impact will look like and what that means for your organization’s strategy. The results and ideas for action will surprise and inspire you.

10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.   Coffee & Tea Break
Room 4025, 4th floor, National Museum of the American Indian

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Tour 1: Making Public Institutions More Public: Open Storage at the Luce Foundation Center for American Art (limited to 20 guests)
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Explore the innovative study center and visible art storage facility that displays more than 3,000 artworks from the museum’s permanent collection in a three-story space. Transportation will be provided.

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Tour 2:  Archives of American Art (Limited to 12 guests)
An archivist will lead a small group on a behind-the-scenes tours of the American Art archives collection. See artists’ notebooks, correspondence and papers from well-known and little-known artists throughout history. Transportation will be provided.

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Workshop 4: Stories Worth Telling: Rethinking Influence Through Stories
Room 4018/19, National Museum of the American Indian
John D. Trybus, Managing Director & Adjunct Professor, Center for Social Impact Communication, Georgetown University
A 2-hour deep-dive storytelling workshop that builds upon the keynote presentation. This workshop will be participatory in nature and is built from the speaker’s Stories Worth Telling applied research.

12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.   Birds of a Feather Meet-Up / Lunch on your Own
Attendees can visit museums or meet up with fellow Affiliates for informal networking to chat about common interests. Make sure to post a comment to the Birds of a Feather board at registration to suggest a topic. Location to be confirmed.

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.     Session 1: Ambassadors to the Smithsonian: Co-Branding your Affiliation
Holiday Inn-Washington Capitol
Tony Cohn, Brand Strategist, Office of Public Affairs, Smithsonian Institution
Gabe Kosowitz, Brand Marketing Director, Office of Public Affairs, Smithsonian Institution
Mandy Haase-Thomas, Chief Communications Officer, University of Nebraska State Museum, Morrill Hall
Trusted and iconic, the Smithsonian brand unifies our museums, research centers, libraries and zoo. Outside of Washington, D.C., our Affiliates are where the rubber meets the road. Each Affiliate plays an important part in providing local context to our national story.  But that story must have a consistent message. The Smithsonian brand management team and an Affiliate will discuss the benefits of co-branding, its dos and don’ts, recent market research, and what all of this means for Affiliates. This session is the beginning of more conversation about branding together and how we can all be one Smithsonian.

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.     Session 2: International Coalition of Sites of Conscience
Holiday Inn-Washington Capitol
Sarah Pharaon, Senior Director, Methodology and Practice, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience
Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, President  & CEO, Abbe Museum
Panelists from the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience network will discuss their commitment to dynamic community engagement and dialogue and its impact on the museum field. The session will explore the overlaps between the Coalition and Affiliations’ partners, and how alignment with both organizations shapes programming and approaches to meaningful connections with visitors.

3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.      Coffee & Tea Break

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.      Session 3: Social Media Diversity and Inclusion: Using Real-Time Engagement Strategies to Tell Inclusive Stories
Holiday Inn-Washington Capitol
Lanae Spruce, Digital Engagement Specialist, National Museum of African American History and Culture
Learn how to use trending hashtags, digital collections, and programming to tell inclusive stories and connect with digital audiences of color. Attendees will leave with tools to stimulate dialogue around issues of importance to communities of color. Goal is to use real-time engagement strategies to tell inclusive stories. Further reading- Social Media for Social Justice

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.      Session 4: Experiential Science Learning: Creating Culturally Relevant Curriculum
Holiday Inn-Washington Capitol
Carol O’Donnell, Director, Smithsonian Science Education Center
Tami McDonaldColorado Regional Coordinator, Smithsonian Science Education Center
Sam Houston, President & CEO, NC Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center
Kristin Richardson, Immediate Past Chair, Smithsonian Science Education Center Board
Through the Smithsonian Science Education Center’s (SSEC) Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) model, the SSEC works with school districts to implement 5 pillars–curriculum, professional development for teachers, materials distribution planning, aligned assessment, and community support. This fifth pillar–community support–ensures that changes in science education in K-12 schools involve the voice of a local partner. In this session, SSEC will discuss the outcomes of a 5-year research study of LASER and the important role that local community partners play in LASER. Using the Denver Museum of Nature & Science as an example partner in LASER–and its new partnerships with the North Caroline Museum of Natural Sciences and Space Center Houston–SSEC will discuss how it is scaling up experiential learning for teachers and students in CO, NC, and TX in partnership with local Affiliates.

7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.     Congressional Reception
Kennedy Caucus Room, Russell Senate Office Building

Wednesday, October 4

9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.   Resource and Exhibitor Fair Breakfast
Holiday Inn
Meet with liaisons from Smithsonian museums, programs, and offices, as well as additional special exhibitors.

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  The Arts Matter: Case Studies for STEAM Programs Using Art and Music
Patron’s Lounge, National Museum of the American Indian
Miriam Machado, Curator of Education, Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum
Brian Dredla, Director of Education and Public Programs, Musical Instrument Museum
Whether you prefer STEM or STEAM, the inclusion of the arts has been found to lead to more diverse learning opportunities, as well as addressed the fact that students learn in multiple ways. The purpose of STEAM should not be so much to teach the arts but to apply the arts in real situations. Two Smithsonian Affiliates will highlight how they’ve used art or music to promote change in their communities and integrate arts across the curriculum.

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  Not Growing Your Membership Fast Enough? Is Marketing in the Equation?
Room 4018/19, National Museum of the American Indian
Christina DiMeglio Lopez, Business & External Affairs Manager, Smithsonian Affiliations
Kara V. Leinfelder Meyer, Associate Director, NC Museum of History Associates, North Carolina Museum of History
Learn how your Affiliate colleagues at the North Carolina Museum of History have restructured the museum’s membership, packaging in the Smithsonian Affiliate membership as a dual level, using co-branding and digital marketing to advance membership activity. Applying a marketing strategy to membership acquisition and renewal activities yields high impact and engagement with new and renewing audiences. How are you maximizing branding partnerships and benefits?  Join the discussion and share with the community of practitioners.

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.   Birds of a Feather Meet-Up / Lunch on your Own
Attendees can visit museums or meet up with fellow Affiliates for informal networking to chat about common interests. Make sure to post a comment to the Birds of a Feather board at registration to suggest a topic. Location to be confirmed.

1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.      Everyone Is Welcome Here
Holiday Inn Washington-Capitol
Ellen Kodadek, Executive & Artistic Director, Flushing Town Hall
Samir Meghelli, Museum Curator, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum
Did you know there were 168 languages spoken in Queens, New York? Or that Washington, D.C., is home to some of the fastest gentrifying ZIP codes in the country? The face of America is changing dramatically; how are we responding to these changes in our communities?  Flushing Town Hall will discuss how its cross-cultural programs are breaking down isolationist boundaries and making themselves accessible to all cultures. The Anacostia Community Museum will discuss how it is documenting the evolution of Washington, D.C.’s, fast-changing neighborhoods and convening important community dialogues about what these profound changes mean.

1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.      People, Planet, Profit: Strategic Sustainability
Holiday Inn Washington-Capitol
Jocelyn Groom, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Who do you rely on for the impact you make to society, the environment, and economically? Strategic sustainability is thinking holistically to reduce risk across three different pillars—people, planet, profit—and how to quantify them for more sustainable goals. This extended session will discuss common obstacles among the Affiliate network and brainstorm ways to reduce waste across the three pillars to make a more meaningful impact.

3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.     Coffee & Tea Break

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.      A Thriving Relationship: New Loan Procedures at the National Museum of American History
Holiday Inn Washington-Capitol
Joshua M. Gorman, Museum Registrar and Head of Collections Management Services, National Museum of American History
Margaret Grandine, Loan Program Manager, National Museum of American History
Rosemary Phillips, Affiliations Program Manager, National Museum of American History
Showcasing an object from the nation’s collection to tell local and regional stories at your museum is a major benefit of the Affiliations Program. Come hear about recent changes to the loan process at the National Museum of American History and brainstorm ways to include Smithsonian treasures in your future exhibitions.

3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.      Workshop 5: The Power of Play
Holiday Inn Washington-Capitol
Sarah Safley, Coordinator, Discovery Room, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Brooke Shoemaker, Museum and Early Learning Specialist, Smithsonian Early Education Center
Play is a powerful force for learning, community-building, and enjoyment – but most museums (outside of children’s museums) do not understand its potential or embrace it in practice. In this session attendees will learn how to incorporate play in mission-appropriate ways to better connect with audiences of all ages. We’ll go over tactics big and small, including: playful attitudes, playful interactions, playful events, and playful spaces.

6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.      Closing Reception: The Nation We Build Together
Unity Square, 2 West, National Museum of American History
The Nation We Build Together is a theme that resonates across our history, one that’s fundamental to understanding America, ourselves, and the larger political process—not limited to party politics, but how we learn, make, and determine how we are governed together. Join Smithsonian staff and fellow Affiliate colleagues as we bid farewell to the 2017 Affiliations Conference in a space that inspires engagement and explores the largest ideas and ideals in America. The exhibitions, American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith, Many Voices, One Nation, Religion in Early America, and Within These Walls, will be open for viewing during the reception.

Thursday, October 5 (Optional Tours and Workshop)

9:00 am – 11:00 am  Briefing on the Hill: Smithsonian Around the Country
Foyer, Rayburn House Office Building, Capitol Hill
Affiliate participants are invited to attend a briefing in the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). The briefing will provide information to members of Congress and their staff about the Smithsonian’s presence around the country. Guests will hear remarks by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), SITES director and Affiliations interim director, the Assistant Secretary for Education and Access as well as museum directors from the Saint Louis Science Center (hosting Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission), National Air and Space Museum, and National Postal Museum. Guests will also have a chance to see Mail Call, a SITES exhibition developed in collaboration with the National Postal Museum. Coffee and tea will be served. Free to conference attendees. Gusts must arrive by 8:45 a.m. in order to go through security. Transportation will be provided. 

10:00 am – 2:00 pm Off-Site Tour: Smithsonian Exhibits
Visit the Smithsonian Exhibits office in Suitland, Maryland, for a behind-the-scenes tour of the exhibit design workshop, a catered lunch, and a discussion about how Affiliates and Smithsonian Exhibits can collaborate.  $20 per guest, includes lunch and transportation.

11:00 am- 3:00 pm Off-Site Tour: George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens

Spend the day exploring a fellow Affiliate just a few miles south of Washington, D.C. While you’re there, stroll the grounds at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens and explore the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center.  $20 per guest, includes admission and transportation.