Raising History’s Profile

In 2013, a group of public historians, preservationists, educators, historic site managers, and museum leaders got together and asked, “How can we re-brand history and show that it is crucial to our nation’s future?

Join us for the 2014 Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference, just steps away from where history is made every day!

Join us for the 2014 Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference, just steps away from where history is made every day!

Thus was born the History Relevance Campaign, a grassroots movement made up of public historians who aim to show why the study and practice of history develop life skills that contribute to a stronger  citizenry and are crucial to our nation’s future. The focus is on the need to raise the profile of history and its value in the general public.

Over the past year, the group has held conversations at conferences of the American Alliance of Museums, National History Day, National Council for Public History, American Historical Association, and the American Association for State and Local History.

Not connected to any one history organization, the group intends to craft a strategy to make the teaching of history and related skills an integral and essential part of the K-12 curriculum.

Attendees to the Affiliations National Conference have the opportunity to contribute to the conversation first-hand and help build an action plan for the History Relevance Campaign during a session on Tuesday, June 24:

History Relevance Campaign: Raising History’s Profile
Discussion leaders:
Kim Fortney, Deputy Director, National History Day
Tim Grove, Chief of Museum Learning, National Air and Space Museum
Kent Whitworth, Executive Director, Kentucky Historical Society

Come help shape and form a national campaign for history. Anyone can also join the discussion now on LinkedIn at https://bit.ly/historybrand.

While you’re planning your Affiliations conference attendance, consider staying for the 21st Century Museum Leadership Seminar, June 26-27, in collaboration with the George Washington University. Additional fees apply. Click here to fill out an application.

The Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference is for current Affiliates only. If you are interested in becoming an Affiliate, or have an application in progress and would like to attend the Conference, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee for more information.


Register for the 2014 Affiliations Conference here.
Reserve your room at the Holiday Inn- Capitol at a special rate.
View the preliminary agenda on our Conference webpage.

Take Off with Shuttle Programs

The era of the space shuttle may have drawn to a close, but shuttles are finding new life in education at museums across the country. The retirement of the shuttle fleet presents unique educational and collaborative opportunities for a greater community of organizations to explore space history through STEM programs.

The Smithsonian and Smithsonian Affiliations community represent, in collections and educational programs, the entirety of the U.S. Space Shuttle Program, from its inception, through the history of its flights, to the commemoration of its triumphs and tragedies.  The National Air and Space Museum is home to Discovery, Smithsonian Affiliates California Science Center hosts Endeavour, and The Museum of Flight displays a full scale test shuttle to its visitors.  Several more Affiliates have significant collections related to the shuttle program; five are home to Challenger Learning Centers.

As so many Affiliates are working to interpret space history and the shuttle program, we’re facilitating projects to bring this group together to encourage sharing information and materials. To begin, we’re hosting a session at the Mutual Concerns of Air and Space Museums conference, April 11-14, 2014. In this session, three museums will present case studies demonstrating unique exhibition and educational plans for the retired space shuttle fleet with the goal of sharing experiences and resources that would benefit other museums interested in using the space shuttle program in their educational offerings.

California Science Center will discuss plans for the new facility that will house Endeavour and the immersive experiences intended to encourage creativity and innovation. The Museum of Flight will share the hands-on experience (not possible with decommissioned orbiters) that visitors have when they climb into the three-story full-body trainer at the museum. The National Air and Space Museum will talk about the installation and exhibition of Discovery at the Udvar-Hazy Center. We hope a lively discussion at Mutual Concerns will lead us to future collaborations. We’d like to hear our Affiliates ideas on how to connect: should we support a trip to Washington or connect digitally? Is this a topic that would resonate with museum visitors or spark imaginative school programming? Please contact us to take part, or join us June 23-25, 2014 at the Smithsonian Affiliations conference to continue the discussion.

Crowdfunding + Tweetups. Yes. Those are real things.

And museums are using them in new and unique ways to raise money and engage new audiences. In 2013, the Freer|Sackler Gallery launched its first major crowdfunding campaign “Together we’re one” to support Yoga: The Art of Transformation. Using crowdfunding, the museum asked ordinary citizens to help fund the exhibit. In the end, the museum raised more than $170,000, well above its goal.

tweetup1At the National Museum of American History, National Air and Space Museum and National Museum of Natural History social media practitioners are engaging new audiences in person and online by hosting Tweetups (sometimes called socials) for enthusiasts who want to learn more about Smithsonian collections, programs and exhibits. Partnering with other organizations like NASA and the National Holocaust Museum, the Smithsonian reaches new audiences through the personal tweets from their most avid audiences. During the #docsocial tweetup in January 2014, the small event–about 25 tweeps–resulted in almost 24 million impressions on Twitter. (Impressions are similar to newspaper delivery–you know how many newspapers were delivered but not how many were read, but the potential is there!)

As we plan our 2014 Affiliations National Conference, we want to know who among our amazing Affiliate network have had successes in crowdfunding and tweetups? We’re planning two sessions during our conference about both topics and would love to include Affiliate insights. Have you funded a program or exhibit through online giving? Have you expanded your reach using Tweetups as a tool? We want to know. And if you’re one of our amazing Affiliate innovators, we want to include you in our conference. Email Elizabeth Bugbee to share your successes (and failures too!).

In addition, we’ve started a Social Media @SIAffiliates Facebook group. We want to create a community for our Affiliate network to get to know each other and share ideas with each other. Please join today!

Join us at the 2014 Affiliations National Conference June 23-25 in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference is for current Affiliates only. If you are interested in becoming an Affiliate, or have an application in progress and would like to attend the Conference, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee for more information.

Announcing Leadership Seminar for Affiliates

gwlogoRecognizing that the need for leadership skills is fundamental in the field, Smithsonian Affiliations has recently signed an agreement to offer leadership training to staff of Affiliate museums in collaboration with George Washington University’s Museum Studies Program.   The Smithsonian has a long standing collaborative relationship with GW that encompasses internships, joint research programs, and research fellowships.   GW’s Museum Studies program is a nationally-known graduate training program with core curriculum in collections, exhibition development and design, new media, and museum management and leadership.  Since conducting a survey of Affiliate staff in 2012, GWs Associate Professor of Museum Studies, Martha Morris, has worked with Affiliations Director, Harold Closter, to design a two-day seminar to be held here in Washington, D.C., on June 26 and 27, 2014, following the Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference.

Museums today face incredible challenges as well as new opportunities. Globalization, new technologies, competition,  accountability, collections preservation, financial turmoil and staffing changes are all major concerns. In addition, professional standards and ethical mandates continue to evolve.  Museums need highly trained staff, committed governance, and innovative leaders to assure their long term sustainability.  The 21st-century workforce demands individuals who are collaborative, flexible, imaginative, and innovative.  The goal of this collaboration between the Smithsonian and GW is to provide opportunities for staff at all levels of the museum to gain needed skills that will position them and their organization for success.

The program will provide opportunity for interaction with leaders at the Smithsonian and other museums as well as faculty of GW.  Topics will include practical skills in management systems as well as strategic thinking and leadership philosophy.   The value of the seminar will be in developing new skills as well as creating new networks for continuing professional growth.

The program will be reasonably priced with a limited number of scholarships available.  Registration will be opening in April, but we encourage you to save the dates now.  For further information about the seminar please contact Professor Martha Morris, George Washington University Museum Studies program at morrism@gwu.edu.

Photo courtesy George Washington University.

Photo courtesy George Washington University.

Smithsonian Secretary kicks off 2014 Affiliations National Conference

Education and access have always been at the core of all of our work. Our Affiliate network provides countless opportunities for informal learning in local communities across the U.S. through research, scholarship and exhibitions both real and virtual. Many Affiliates have collaborated with the Smithsonian on online national summits for teens, science webcasts, and even collected oral histories all captured for a virtual audience as well as developed as engaging public programs at each organization.

We’ve invited Smithsonian Secretary, G. Wayne Clough, to be our Keynote Speaker at our 2014 Affiliations National Conference* (June 23-25) to share how Affiliates are our partners in tackling a digital world.

“While digital technology poses great challenges, it also offers great possibilities. For the Smithsonian and our nation’s other museums, libraries and archives, today is a time when we can serve the role our founders envisioned for the educational systems of our republic. We can help all the people, not just a few of the people, to understand our culture, the cultures of other countries and life in all its dimensions.”

Join us on June 24 and discover the possibilities when we partner in making our collections more accessible and provide lifelong learning experiences to all of our visitors through innovative digital access.

To read the Secretary’s free book Best of Both Worlds: Museums, Libraries, and Archives in a Digital Age and see a short video, go to https://www.si.edu/BestofBothWorlds. The book is also available for free at iTunes U. Read the full press release for the Secretary’s e-book here.

*The Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference is for current Affiliates only. If you are interested in becoming an Affiliate, or have an application in progress and would like to attend the Conference, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee for more information.

2013 Affiliations National Conference Resources

Thanks to everyone who joined us at the 2013 Affiliations National Conference! We had a record-breaking 119 attendees from 74 Affiliates in 31 states and Puerto Rico join us! We know we learned a lot from you and hope you learned something new, met a new colleague, or discovered new possibilities while you were in town. Feel free to share the below post-conference resources with your colleagues who weren’t able to join us this year. And stay tuned…we’ll be uploading the digital recordings for many other sessions shortly. For now, enjoy the webcasts from our two keynote addresses and our one session on mobile marketing as well as the PowerPoint presentations from most sessions (Click on each speaker’s name to find the presentation). View the conference guidebook here and check out photos on our Flickr Photostream too! Contact Elizabeth Bugbee with any questions, comments or other feedback. Thanks for a seriously amazing conference!

Tuesday, June 11
Keynote Address:
Re-purposing the Museum: Using Digital Tools to Re-engage Young Audiences
Stephen Brown, President and Executive Producer at Mobile Digital Arts and General Manager of the New Learning Institute

Linking the Landscape: Digital Outreach to Small Towns and Rural Communities
Tom Falvey, Director of Education, South Carolina State Museum
Carol Harsh, Director, Museum on Main Street, Smithsonian Institution
Sonchia Jilek, Executive Director, The Pinhead Institute

Digital Trends: Crowdsourcing, 3-D, and Badging, Oh My!
Herbert Maschner, Director, Idaho Museum of Natural History
Lynn-Steven Engelke, Director of Programs, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
Kathryn Burke, Museum Technician, National Postal Museum

SITES=Success: Transforming Museums Through Traveling Exhibits
Micah Parzen, Chief Executive Officer, San Diego Museum of Man
Betsy Gordon, Project Manager, National Museum of the American Indian
Jonathan Stevens, President and Chief Executive Officer, American Textile History Museum
Jennifer O’Keefe, Special Assistant to the Director, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service

Establishing Deeper Connections: Creating a Culture of Membership
Christi Janssen, Executive Director, The Durham Museum
Laurie Pillman, Membership Coordinator, Peoria Riverfront Museum

Make It Mobile: The New Museum is in Your Hand
Richard Cooper, Manager of content Development & Interpretation, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Heather Foster, Writer, Editor, Web Content Manager, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service
Nancy Proctor, Head of Mobile Strategy & Initiatives, Smithsonian Institution

What’s The New Normal? Strategies for Survival and Reinvention
Thomas Stoneback, Executive Director, National Canal Museum
Jose Santamaria, Executive Director, Tellus Science Museum
Camille Akeju, Director, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum

Wednesday, June 12
A Peek at “Object Project” at the National Museum of American History (Workshop Tour)
Howard Morrison, Director of Education and Interpretation
Judy Gradwohl, Assistant Director for Education and Public Programs
Click here for a diagram reporting on visitors’ responses to questions about their connections to history, motivations for visiting, expectations for their visit, actual visit experiences, and perceptions of benefits.
Click here for the front-end evaluation report for the new National Museum of Natural History learning center.

Keynote Address:
Envisioning a National Network of Early Learners
Kimberlee Kiehl, Executive Director, Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center
With an introduction from Marsha L. Semmel, former Director of Strategic Partnerships, Institute of Museum and Library Services

Full STEAM Ahead: Integrating Science, History and Art
Ellen Rosenthal, President and CEO, Conner Prairie
Brian Mancuso, Director of Exhibits, Conner Prairie
Jeff Dunn, Planetarium Supervisor, Mystic Seaport
Deborah Stokes, Education Specialist, National Museum of African Art

Collaboration Block: Seriously Amazing Opportunities

  • Places of Invention: The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention & Innovation
    Julia Swan, Adult Public Programs Manager, Museum of History and Industry
    Anna Karvellas, Places of Invention Affiliates Project Coordinator, The Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention & Innovation
    Kate A. Lukaszewicz, Lead Educator, Senator John Heinz History Center
  • Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos: Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
    Combined session presentation
    Lindsay Bartholomew, Miami Science Museum, Moderator
    Christopher Myers, U.S. Space & Rocket Center
    Chelsea Dorman, Educator, College Park Aviation Museum
    James Wells, Education Program Manager, York County Culture & Heritage Museums
  • Our American Journey
    Elizabeth Bly, Director of Grants, Japanese American National Museum
    Magdalena Mieri, Director, Program in Latino History & Culture, National Museum of American History
    Pino Monaco, Director of Program Evaluation & Audience Research, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
  • Smithsonian Science NOW: National Museum of Natural History
    Combined session presentation
    Margaret Benson, Online Community Manager
    Colleen Marzec, Managing Producer Web Portal

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