Kudos September 2016

Congrats to these Affiliates on their recent accomplishments!

Funding

The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium announced that it has received $20,000 from the Cultural Leadership Partners Program from the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. Grant funds will support staff and related expenses that are dedicated to implementing the Museum & Aquarium’s strategic plan.

The Rockwell Museum was selected to receive a grant of $19,950 from the Edith Saxton Fund for Steuben County Youth Services, administered through the Community Foundation of the Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes. The grant will support the museum’s Great Circle Program, an early childhood artist-in-residence program for first-grade students in the Bath Central School District. The program will be introduced to Bath schools in the spring 2017 semester.

In its 50th anniversary year, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced $79 million in grants for 290 humanities projects and programs across the United States including the following Affiliate initiatives:

Colorado Historical Society-$200,000

Project Title: Colorado Digital Newspaper Project

Project Description: Digitization of 100,000 pages of Colorado’s historic newspapers published between 1859 and 1922, as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).

Arab American National Museum-$45,000

Project Title: The New Face of Arab America: Immigrant and Refugee Communities

Project Description: Research and planning for exhibitions, collections, and programming about Arab Americans’ experiences, culture, and history.

Montana Historical Society-$49,263

Project Title: Analysis and Optimization of the Mechanical Systems for Sustainable

Preservation of Collections

Project Description: Planning for sustainable preservation of art, artifacts, archival materials, photographs, and publications at the Montana Historical Society Museum and Research Center (MHS). These collections document Montana history and culture since 1865.

Ohio Historical Society-$200,000

Project Title: Ohio Digital Newspaper Project, Phase Four

Project Description: Digitization of 100,000 pages of Ohio newspapers, dating from 1836 to 1922, as part of the state’s participation in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).

Ohio Historical Society-$179,596

Project Title: Following in Ancient Footsteps: The Hopewell in Ohio

Project Description: Two one-week workshops for 72 schoolteachers on the ancient

Hopewell Indian culture of eastern North America.

National Museum of American Jewish History-$325,000

Project Title: 1917: Gateway to the 20th Century

Project Description: Implementation of a traveling exhibition and a virtual tour exploring how geopolitical events of 1917 fundamentally changed American Jewish identity.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West-$200,000

Project Title: From Prairie to Palace: Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in Europe

Project Description: Preparation for publication of materials related to the tours of Spain and Italy by Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show in 1887–1906.

visiting Affiliate artifacts… in Washington

In Affiliations, we like to say that our partnerships are two-way streets. We learn as much from our Affiliates as we share. Our Affiliate partners lend ideas, energy and expertise not only to the Smithsonian, but to each other. They also lend artifacts, and often, the very best, rare ones they have in their collections.

Recently, I took an afternoon out of the office to visit the handful of loans currently on view from our Affiliate partners to the Smithsonian. What better pleasure to run in to our Affiliate friends across the country than by discovering pieces from their collections here in Washington?!

A case featuring inductees to the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

A case featuring inductees to the National Inventors Hall of Fame

My first stop on this walkabout was the National Museum of American History and its newly-opened innovation wing. The Inventing in America exhibition features a case that honors inductees to the National Inventors Hall of Fame, our Affiliate in Canton, OH. Visitors can marvel at a selection of inventions made by some of the 500 men and women who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and learn about inventions such as the first intravascular stent from 1984, 3M sticky notes, the first digital camera from 1975, and the 1976 Apple computer.

exhibitcase4_atNMAH.Jan2016

Descriptions of the inventions of Hall of Fame inductees

Notably, the case explains the invention of Kevlar, the high strength fabric (used for example, in bullet-proof vests) invented by Stephanie Kwolek in 1965 while she worked at DuPont. Luckily, our Delaware Affiliate, the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, has an extensive collection of material about Kevlar (including Kwolek’s papers) and lent two artifacts from their collection to bring her story to life.

I wandered over to the National Portrait Gallery to see its Dark Fields of the Republic: Alexander Gardner Photographs, 1859-1872 exhibition. At one time, Gardner worked for the famous photographer Matthew Brady before casting out as an influential documentarian in his own right. The profound Civil War-era images on view in these galleries are haunting still. Among them are important works from three Smithsonian Affiliates.

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Field of Antietam photo book on loan from the National Civil War Museum

The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA lent a photographic book titled the Field of Antietam from 1962. Before photomechanical reproduction, books like this one were made by printing each of the original photographs by hand, adhering them to mounts, and binding them as a book. Knowing this process makes the book feel all that more special.

Our Affiliate in Indianapolis, the Indiana Historical Society lent chilling images of the executions of the Lincoln assassination conspirators. Notably, Alexander Gardner was the only photographer allowed to document the hangings, and his position on the wall of the prison grants a panoramic view that is searing and unforgettable.

Sketchbook of the War, on loan from the Western Reserve Historical Society

Gardner’s Photographic Sketchbook of the War, on loan from the Western Reserve Historical Society

Finally, the Western Reserve Historical Society, our Affiliate in Cleveland, OH also lent several works to the exhibition, including what feels like an incongruous view of a picnic in the woods. Alas, one discovers its main subject is Walt Whitman, who lived in Washington, D.C. for part of the war, writing letters for injured soldiers. It’s an unsettling yet bucolic image among the battlefields represented on the walls around it. Another impressive loan is Gardner’s Photographic Sketchbook of the War in two volumes. This large-scale folio published in 1866 features 100 images from Gardner’s vast collection that successfully distill the chronological narrative of the war in a meaningful and emotional way.

Finally, I ended my excursion at the Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian. This retrospective – her first major one – traces the artistic journey of WalkingStick, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Emerging from the art world of New York in the 1960-70s, the show traces her 40+ year career from early figurative work through her famous diptychs to recent paintings of monumental landscapes with symbolic references to their Native links.

Three Affiliates are represented in this exhibition as well. One of our newest, The Rockwell Museum in Corning, NY lent a diptych, Letting Go/From Chaos to Calm from 1990. These rich paintings of mixed dry media on sculptmetal juxtapose the figurative and abstract, the visual and visceral in stimulating and thought-provoking ways.

Visitors can leaf through a touchable version of WalkingStick's artist book, on loan from the Heard Museum.

Visitors can leaf through a touchable version of WalkingStick’s artist book, on loan from the Heard Museum

The Heard Museum in Phoenix, AZ (where the show will travel after Washington) lent two works. One canvas, Cardinal Points from 1983-85, uses acrylic paint and saporified wax to achieve a textured and active surface that rewards prolonged study. Her artist book on loan from the Heard contrasts depictions of herself with the kinds of stereotypical comments about her identity that continue to plague Native people. (Flip through the book here.)

Finally, the Denver Art Museum lent a commanding diptych of a different style, Farewell to the Smokies from 2007. This oil painting on wood blends two views of a majestic mountain landscape, with silhouettes of figures walking across their base. It’s a powerful reminder of Native history, and at the same time, of the indelible legacy of Native peoples on the American landscape.

Thank you Affiliates, for all the ways that you enrich the Smithsonian!

Farewell to the Farewell to the Smokies, 2007. Oil on wood panel, 36 x 72 x 1 in. Denver Art Museum: William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen Collection, 2008.14. Photo courtesy of the Denver Art Museum

Farewell to the Smokies, 2007. Oil on wood panel, 36 x 72 x 1 in. Denver Art Museum: William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen Collection, 2008.14. Photo courtesy of the Denver Art Museum

 

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Let’s welcome the Smithsonian’s newest museum to the family

Scheduled to open on September 24, 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture will be the Smithsonian’s newest addition to its campus on the National Mall.  Activities to commemorate and welcome the new Museum are being planned around the Smithsonian, to include special events and exhibitions that celebrate the African American experience.  We’d like to get Affiliates in on the action too!

NMAAHC, November 2015.

NMAAHC, November 2015.

Is your organization planning anything special in September that might coincide with the celebration?  We’ve also been brainstorming additional ideas for Affiliates – could you host a speaker (even via webcast?), display African American objects from your collection, display a banner or postcard, help us blanket social media channels?  What other activities might be meaningful to your community that we can provide, or collaborate on, to make the opening of the Museum unforgettable?

Please send your ideas to affiliates@si.edu and thank you in advance!