Kudos! September 2010

In these times of economic challenges, it’s nice to see some bright spots!

Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust announced the Heard Museum (Phoenix, Arizona) was awarded an Arts Restructuring and Transformation Fund (ART Fund) grant to expand current retail space for Native American artists, add a new bookstore with expanded inventory and open a coffee shop that serves traditional Native American refreshments. The grant was $150,000 over 24 months.

Michigan State University Museum (East Lansing, Michigan) received funding from The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The MSU Museum will receive $98,173 from the National Leadership Collaborative Planning Grant to be used to expand technology and access for the online resource, the Quilt Index. 

The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation has awarded a two year grant in the amount of $230,000 to The Raices Latin Music Museum (New York, New York) for the implementation of the strategic planning and collection preservation initiative as well as the purchase of TMS, a museum database. 

The Senate confirmed five individuals to serve on the National Museum and Library Services Board, which advises the Institute of Museum and Library Services on general policy and practices including Dr. Lawrence J. Pijeaux, Jr., President and CEO of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, Alabama).

The Kona Historical Society (Kona, Hawaii) received $255,592 to buy two acres on the Big Island as a scenic buffer for the historic H.N. Greenwell Store and additional space for preservation of the farming and ranching heritage of Kona. The money is from the Legacy Land Conservation Program and will be matched with about $9.5 million from federal, county and private sources to acquire land or protective easements for public benefit.

Congratulations all!

summer at the smithsonian

We’ve invited our recent Affiliate interns and visiting professionals to blog about their experiences in our Summer at the Smithsonian series beginning in August.  Shawn Pirelli, Smithsonian Affiliations intern partner from Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA) will kick us off, so check back soon! Here’s a taste of what each thought of their time at the Smithsonian: 

Affiliate Visiting Professionals 

Eric Stanley (left) spent two weeks at the National Museum of American History researching the process of developing and designing history exhibitions.

“It was my great pleasure to be introduced to many, many facets of creating exhibitions at NMAH. I met over thirty people and was able to learn something from each of them. The time I spent with them, each one knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and warmly receptive of my presence, was a tremendous benefit to me and my institution,” said Eric Stanley, Sonoma County Museum (Santa Rosa, CA). 

Chena Popper spent three weeks at the National Museum of Natural History with registrars and collections care experts.

“It was a great learning experience to be able to see the loan process from start to finish, from loan forms to insurance and shipping, arrangements to condition reporting. Then on the SDNHM side, I was able to assist with the receiving, condition reporting and installation of the pieces,” said Chena Popper, San Diego Natural History Museum (San Diego, CA). 

Lisa Falk (left) benefited from a 4-week, pan-institutional project focused on technology and Web 2.0 initiatives at the Smithsonian.

“My SI colleagues were inviting, open, and encouraging. Their work is inspiring and has given me many ideas and broadened my understanding of the possibilities and some of the difficulties in creating digital and face-to-face museum interactions. Back home, I look forward to sharing what I learned with my ASM colleagues and trying out some of the Smithsonian approaches,” said Lisa Falk, Arizona State Museum (Tucson, AZ).

Affiliations Intern Partners

Annette Shumway at the National Postal Museum working to digitize the Postmaster General Collection.

“Taking part in both of these projects has helped me understand the logistics behind coordinating loans and standards involved in collections’ imaging projects. I feel that much of the experience that I gained through this period will aid in the second portion of my internship which will involve initiating a collections digitization program,” said Annette Shumway, Smithsonian Affiliations Intern Partner at the Frost Art Museum at Florida International University (Miami, FL). 

Shawn Pirelli is wrapping up 10 weeks at the Smithsonian researching Thanksgiving traditions for a future exhibition.

“I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most revered curators and archivists in the world.  The Smithsonian is truly an untapped gold mine in historical records. With the help of the staff, I was able to uncover some of the most truly magnificent historical records that, during their time, helped shape and change the United States,” said Shawn Pirelli, Smithsonian Affiliations Intern Partner at Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA). 

David Kerr alternates his internship between the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian Affiliations

“My Smithsonian Affiliations internship has been incredibly advantageous. From handling and transcribing Teddy Roosevelt  letters to helping do research for an upcoming work on the Civil War to meeting with curators to discuss current exhibits and collections, my time has been very well spent, and my future as an academic or as a future employee can only benefit,” said David Kerr, Smithsonian Affiliations Intern Partner at the Frazier International History Museum (Louisville, KY). 

Smithsonian Institution Intern  

Juliana Walker (right) tests an interactive game at the National Zoo with Affiliate researcher, Lisa Falk.

“Under the direction of Harold Closter I was able to learn about the enormous positive impact the Smithsonian Affiliations Office has across the country. By researching museums in the states where Affiliates are not present, I hope my research may help extend the Affiliate network across even more,” said Juliana Walker, Junior at the State University of New York at Fredonia.

Don’t forget to visit our blog in August for stories from each of our interns and visiting professionals! Read first-hand how professional development opportunities at Smithsonian Affiliations can benefit your museum.  And keep checking back for application deadlines for 2011.

affiliates at the folklife festival

In addition to Mexico and Asian Pacific Americans, this year’s Folklife Festival features ‘Smithsonian Inside Out’ – a section devoted to explaining the inner workings of the Institution.  Tents are dedicated to work in our strategic  grand challenges, how we make exhibits and tend our grounds, our research activities around the globe, and more.

Affiliates are playing an important role in demonstrating to Festival visitors how the Smithsonian reaches audiences well beyond Washington.  The Littleton Historical Museum in Colorado and the Historic Arkansas Museum are featured on giant festival maps about the Smithsonian’s work outside D.C.  Icons for Affiliates that show the breadth of the network are highlighted as well.

The B & O Railroad Museum‘s executive director Courtney Wilson will be on the Festival’s discussion stage on July 1 with Bill Withuhn, curator emeritus at the National Museum of American History.  They’ll be discussing our decade of collaboration, and the numerous Smithsonian artifacts on view in Baltimore as a result of our relationship.

On July 3, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture will host a table at the Festival to demonstrate the fruits of their affiliation, such as hosting several major SITES exhibitions, artifact loans from the new National Museum of African American History, and sharing expertise with a range of Smithsonian scholars.

Throughout the Festival, Affiliations staff have been engaged in explaining outreach efforts to visitors.  National Outreach Manager Alma Douglas took to the discussion stage on June 27 to describe the Affiliations Program.  Other staff members are manning the “Ask the Smithsonian” tent, finding out about visitors’ hometowns and encouraging them to visit their local Affiliates.  It’s great to be able to tell Festival visitors from across the country about our extended family of Affiliates, and the Smithsonian experience they can have, even  in their own backyards.

thanks for a wonderful conference!

Affiliations Director, Harold Closter, greeting conference guests at the Welcome Reception at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

We were so delighted that so many of you were able to join us for this year’s Annual National Conference.  The spirit of friendship permeated our gathering as did the passion and commitment that you bring to our profession.  We were sorry that some of you were unable to attend, but know that you were with us in thought, and that we’ll see you next year, if not sooner.

Thank you for your many kind words of praise.  We try hard to build a conference that offers the right mix of intellectual challenge, workshops on cutting edge topics, new ways of engaging the Smithsonian, and enjoyable networking opportunities.  We hope our blend worked for you, but if not, let us know so we can try something different next year.

Conference attendees brainstorming with Smithsonian experts at the "Grand Challenges" roundtables.

This year we had more Affiliate presenters and more Smithsonian participants than ever before.  We are grateful to all of you for taking the time to prepare and share your experiences.  They were informative, enlightening, and ever indicative of the impact that we create together through Smithsonian Affiliations.  I am confident that everyone left with a suitcase full of new ideas; we can’t wait to begin unpacking.

Wish we all of you a wonderful summer, certainly one not as hot as in Washington, and continued success in serving your communities.  We are proud to be your partners!

Harold A. Closter

PS- Missed something at the conference?  Click on these links to review Conference Presentations, browse the Conference Guidebook, and enjoy photos from all three days of activities.

Have ideas for next year? Please email Elizabeth Bugbee with ideas for topics YOU want to learn about next year!

kudos, affiliates! july 2010

Despite the economy, there are many bright spots to celebrate in Affiliateland this month.  Great job everyone!

Adler Planetarium (Chicago, Illinois) received a $40,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to develop a planning project leading to recommendations for improving the storage of a collection of artifacts related to the history of astronomy, maritime history, and related fields. 

Buffalo Bill Historical Center (Cody, Wyoming) was awarded a $200,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to begin preparation of a thematic, illustrated digital edition of the papers of Buffalo Bill Cody, a symbol of the American West in the popular imagination. BBHC was also granted $10,250 from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund to develop the exhibition “Arapaho Journey: Photographs and Stories from the Wind River Reservation.” 

The Birthplace of Country Music Alliance (Bristol, Tennessee) is set to receive $25,000 from the Tennessee Arts Commission.

Raices Latin Music Museum (New York, NY) will receive a $3,000 grant from IMLS’ American Heritage Preservation Grants to preserve an iconic straw boater hat worn by world-famous Cuban-American musician and bandleader, Desi Arnaz.

The Historical Society of Washington, DC has received a $3,000 grant from IMLS’ American Heritage Preservation Grant program to rehouse, preserve and make accessible 3,600 oversized photographs from the Capital Photo Service Collection of 1957-2000.

The Museum of Appalachia (Norris, Tennessee) received a $25,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to install a new, energy-efficient climate control system in the Museum’s Hall of Fame.

Leon Levy Foundation Awards an additional $860,092 grant to The Center for Jewish History (New York, New York)  for Preservation of Archival Materials

Three Smithsonian Affiliates were awarded funds through the Smithsonian Community Grant program: 

Sonoma County Museum (Santa Rosa, California) was awarded $5,000 to fund a family day, oral history day, and panel discussion related to the themes of Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964.

Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center (Mashantucket, Connecticut) was awarded $4,864 to fund two speakers and programming advertisement related to the themes of Native Words, Native Warriors.

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, Alabama) was awarded $5,000 to fund a book signing, photography workshop, public program, teacher workshop, and programming advertisement related to the themes of Let Your Motto Be Resistance.

can your museum save the world?

Given all the challenges facing our global society today, should the museum community direct our resources and energies to tackle the world’s great problems, and if so, where do we begin?  Can our  efforts in  research, education, collaboration, or public service (or something else?) really make a difference in the face of issues ranging from hurricanes and earthquakes to war or the loss of indigenous cultures? 

The John Marshall Ju/'hoan Bushman Film and Video Collection, which documents the lives of a group of Ju/'hoansi (!Kung San Bushman) in Namibia, is held at the Human Studies Film Archives at the National Museum of Natural History. This audiovisual collection is unique in the world for its focus on one group of people over such a long period.

This topic will be the focus of a keynote session at the Affiliations conference on Monday June 14 at 1:30pm in Baird Auditorium at the National Museum of Natural History.  Cristián Samper, Director of the National Museum of Natural History and Johnnetta B. Cole, Director of the National Museum of African Art will offer their insights on how a natural history museum and an art museum are addressing these issues and preparing for the challenges that lie ahead. 

We want to share examples from Affiliateland, and ask any questions you may have.   Should museums try to save the world?

For more information about the 2010 Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference, click here.