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 March 2021

Is that spring we see coming?!

NATIONWIDE
Smithsonian Affiliations wraps up the collaboration with the National Museum of American History and its Pandemic Perspectives series with the talk, How the National Museum of American History is Collecting COVID-19, on 3.23. Thank you to all the Smithsonian Affiliates that helped us make the series a success! Previous recordings can be found at https://americanhistory.si.edu/pandemic-perspectives

Smithsonian Affiliations kicks off Women’s History Month with a weekly virtual series co-hosted by Affiliates. The series begins Wednesday, March 3. Contact your local Affiliate or affiliates@si.edu for more details.

Lego sets showing women innovators in space history, positioned in a gallery at the National Air and Space Museum

Happy Women’s History Month from the original prototypes of the  LEGO® Ideas “Women of NASA” set displayed in front of the Apollo Lunar Module in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, August 20, 2018. Credit: National Air and Space Museum

TEXAS
The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History will be hosting a ‘drive-in’ screening showcasing two-minute videos that their teen collaborators created for a Smithsonian Earth Optimism initiative to cultivate youth action for the environment, in Fort Worth,  3.5.

FLORIDA
Tampa Bay History Center will host a virtual lecture by National Museum of American History curator Lisa Kathleen Graddy on Creating Icons: How We Remember Woman Suffrage, 3.17.

 

Coming Up in Affiliateland in February 2021

Welcome to a new year of collaboration!

NATIONWIDE
Eight Affiliates present two more opportunities to view the Pandemic Perspectives: Stories through Collections virtual programs in collaboration with the National Museum of American History:
Race and Place: Yellow Fever and the Free African Society in Philadelphia on 2.2.21
Essential Workers: Prestige Versus Pay on 2.16.21

The eight participating Affiliates are:

Professional tennis player Althea Gibson in full motion hitting a difficult tennis shot.

RHODE ISLAND
The International Tennis Hall of Fame (Newport) will present a talk by Dr. Damion Thomas, Curator of Sports at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, on Althea Gibson and the History of Tennis on 2.24.21. Register here.

MASSACHUSETTS

The Springfield Museums (Springfield) will feature Dr. Dorothy Moss, Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the National Portrait Gallery in a conversation with artists about their artistic processes as learning experiences, 2.11.21.  Later in the month, the Museums feature Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony, Curator at the National Air and Space Museum to discuss her new book, Operation Moonglow: A Political History of Project Apollo on 2.25.21.

WISCONSIN

The Civil War Museum, part of Kenosha Public Museums (Kenosha) will host Doretha Williams, Program Manager for the Robert F. Smith Fund at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, for a virtual program in collaboration with the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative about Black Women in the Central Plains 1890-1920.

 

Coming up in Affiliateland in Fall 2020

We’ve made it to November! Affiliates continue to produce amazing events and we’re excited to share what is happening in Affiliate communities. Did we miss a Smithsonian collaboration in your community? Email affiliates@si.edu to let us know.

North Carolina

The Cape Fear Museum in Wilmington hosts a virtual talk with Dr. Krewasky A. Salter, former military subject matter expert at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Dr. Salter will speak on African American Citizenship and Service, 11.4 at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.

Iowa
The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque will be hosting several screenings of Smithsonian Channel programs including America’s Mississippi: The Headwaters; The Heartland; and The Bayou in December.

Oklahoma
The Oklahoma Historical Society in Oklahoma City will screen the Smithsonian Channel programs Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story and The Pacific War in Color in December.

…and from Affiliations in Washington D.C.
What’s Next for Museums and Cultural Institutions? Join our final block of the Smithsonian Affiliations Virtual Conference, November 9-10. Register here.

A Legacy of Healing, Rebirth, and Leadership, our final Virtual Scholars Talk of 2020 with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and two Affiliates—the Japanese American National Museum and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, 11.19 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. Email your National Outreach Manager for details.

Pandemic Perspectives

The National Museum of American History is launching an engaging series of free virtual colloquium presentations that combine questions raised by the current pandemic with explorations of historic objects in the national collections. Topics to be explored include Voting During a Pandemic and How Your Ancestors Had Fun at Home While Quarantining. Curators and historians will virtually share objects, using them as a springboard to dialogue.

Colloquium schedule (each program to be held via Zoom 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM)

Affiliates, if you would like to invite your audiences or stakeholders to join, please email affiliates@si.edu to register your interest.

Online Programs in 2020:

  • September 29, 2020: Fear and Scapegoating during a Pandemic
    Moderator: Alexandra Lord, Chair and Curator, Division of Medicine, National Museum of American History
  • October 6, 2020: Pandemic Pursuits: How Your Ancestors Had Fun at Home While Quarantined
    Moderator: Arthur Daemmrich, Director, Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, National Museum of American History
  • November 3, 2020: Voting During a Pandemic
    Moderator: Peter Liebhold, Curator, Division of Work and Industry, National Museum of American History
  • November 24, 2020: Finding Comfort in a Pandemic: Chocolate, Alcohol, Bread, Pizza, Sushi, and other Comfort Foods
    Moderator: Peter Liebhold, Curator, Division of Work and Industry, National Museum of American History
  • December 1, 2020: How Are Museums and Governments Collecting Around COVID-19?
    Moderator: Alexandra Lord, Chair and Curator, Division of Medicine and Science, National Museum of American History
  • December 15, 2020: Looking Good on that Zoom Call: Cosmetics, Personal Care, Clothing, and Decoration of Space
    Moderator: Arthur Daemmrich, Director, Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, National Museum of American History

Online Programs in 2021

  • January 5, 2021: Racing for Vaccines
    Moderator: Arthur Daemmrich, Director, Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, National Museum of American History
  • January 19, 2021: Mask Up!
    Moderator: Peter Liebhold, Curator, Division of Work and Industry, National Museum of American History
  • February 2, 2021: Race and Place: Yellow Fever and the Free African Society in Philadelphia
    Moderator: Alexandra Lord, Chair and Curator, Division of Medicine and Science, National Museum of American History
  • February 16, 2021: Essential Workers: Prestige Versus Pay
    Moderator: Alexandra Lord, National Museum of American History, Chair and Curator, Division of Medicine and Science

If you are interested, please email affiliates@si.edu or contact your National Outreach Manager directly.

Kudos Affiliates!! September 2020

Congratulations to these Affiliates on their recent accomplishments during some very trying times! Do you have kudos to share? Please send potential entries to Aaron Glavas.

FUNDING

The Durham Museum (Omaha, NE) received a $5,000 grant from Cooper Foundation as part of a cycle of Rapid Response COVID-19 grants.

Humanities Nebraska awarded grants to 73 organizations including Durham Museum-$10,000, Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum (Ashland, NE)- $7,500 and University of Nebraska State Museum (Lincoln,NE)-$3,500 as part of a COVID-19 response initiative.

Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, MI) was one of fifty regional arts and culture organizations to receive $10,000 in relief funding as part of a grant program administered by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and CultureSource.

Mass Humanities distributed more than half a million dollars in coronavirus relief funding, to more than 100 libraries, museums, art galleries, cultural centers and other nonprofit organizations throughout Massachusetts including $10,000 to the Springfield Museums (Springfield, MA).

Maine Initiatives awarded $516,920 to grassroots organizations responding to COVID-19 which included a grant to the Abbe Museum (Bar Harbor, ME).

The African American Museum in Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA) received a $50,000 grant from Pennsylvania Council for the Arts to help pay for staff salaries, facility costs and fees for artists or contractual personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded a series of CARES Act economic stabilization grants to support essential operations at more than 300 cultural institutions across the country including the following Affiliate projects:

Heard Museum (Phoenix, AZ)-$87,121-The retention of seven staff members to develop digital tours of the museum’s signature exhibitions.

Arizona State Museum (Tucson, AZ)-$71,699-The retention of seven staff members to preserve and catalog two dendroarchaeology collections at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, one that derives from the U.S. Southwest, and the other, from the Aegean.

History Colorado (Denver, CO)-$175,000-The retention of six jobs to work with community partners and the public to collect oral histories from the Hispanic, Latino, and Chicano populations of Colorado about their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Connecticut Historical Society (Hartford, CT)-$45,049-Continued employment for the seven members of the historical society’s education department to expand distance learning programs and develop K–12 curriculum and learning activities.

Adler Planetarium (Chicago, IL)-$298,908-Retention of six staff positions to further digital engagement with humanities collections and sustained development of a crowdsourced transcription platform.

National World War II Museum (New Orleans, LA)-$200,000-Retention of up to nine salaried staff positions within the Education and Access Division of the National World War II Museum to support existing digital content and programming, and increase access to collection materials through digitization of correspondence and oral histories.

USS Constitution Museum (Boston, MA)-$232,468-The retention of ten positions to launch the All Hands Online Virtual Exhibit and develop digital field trips and education programs for summer camps, school groups, and families.

Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA)-$299,953-Retention of humanities staff to interpret the English and indigenous people’s impact on the New England landscape for “Seeds of Change: Transforming the Landscape of Seventeenth-Century” project.

Springfield Museums (Springfield, MA)-$141,300-The retention and creation of fifteen positions to rehouse, digitize, create online access, and incorporate into exhibitions the archives of the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, which contain correspondence, photographs, and other documentation of its Gilded Age art collection.

Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, MI)-$165,532-The retention of nine staff members who would enable the museum to transform its educational resources and exhibitions to an online delivery system in order to sustain and increase access to Arab American collections and services.

Durham Museum (Omaha, NE)-$175,000-Employment of 12 staff across four departments, as well as eight
summer interns, in order to preserve museum collections and enhance digital programs.

Las Vegas Natural History Museum (Las Vegas, NV)-$32,107-The retention of six staff members to develop online programming and on-site programs for re-opening.

Center for Jewish History (New York, NY)-$298,500-The rehiring of two employees, and restoration of hours and salaries for 21 other core staff, who would ensure ongoing and expanded access to sources held by the nation’s largest repository of archival materials on Jewish-American history and culture.

City Lore, Inc. (New York, NY)-$132,000-The retention of four staff members to create an archive on the coronavirus in New York City.

National Jazz Museum in Harlem (New York, NY)-$43,500-Retention of a senior scholar to curate the museum’s online content including, Harlem Speaks: Jazz for Curious Listeners, and Jazz for Curious Readers online public programming.

Ohio History Connection (Columbus, OH)-$292,560-The retention of 10 staff members in the Ohio History Connection’s Cultural Resources Division to prepare collections for a large-scale move to a new storage facility and to create online content with collections pertaining to the state’s history and its residents.

High Desert Museum (Bend, OR)-$191,920-Retention of seven staff members to develop virtual tours and programming based on the museum’s collections.

Upcountry History Museum (Greenville, SC)-$19,297-Two staff members for an in-progress project to move the permanent collection from an at-risk location to a new storage space that adheres to collection stewardship guidelines.

International Storytelling Center (Jonesborough, TN)-$219,109-Retention of seven staff members to develop a new storytelling platform enabling scholars, students, educators, and the public to access ISC’s digital archives project-Resilience through Story: Advancing the Power and Possibilities of the Humanities through Online Storytelling.

Burke Museum (Seattle, WA)-$107,812-The retention of three staff members to develop educational programing and community collaborations to promote understanding of Native American culture.