what’s going on in Affiliateland this summer?

Short answer – A LOT!

SOUTH DAKOTA
The South Dakota State Historical Society featured Searching for Life in the Solar System, a web program from the National Air and Space Museum on 7.9.

COLORADO  
The Denver Art Museum opened the Rhythm and Roots:  Dance in American Art exhibition, featuring artworks on loan from the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in Denver, 7.10.

TEXAS
Dr. Damion Thomas, sports curator at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, presented a talk on African American baseball leagues at the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio, 7.16.

CALIFORNIA
LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes hosted a collecting initiative event around Latinos and Baseball: In the Barrios and the Big Leagues with curators from the National Museum of American History, 7.17.

Affiliations director Harold Closter attended and welcomed the California African American Museum into the Smithsonian family at an Affiliate announcement in Los Angeles, 7.20.

WASHINGTON, D.C.
Founding director and senior scholar Loren Schoenberg from the National Jazz Museum in Harlem led a public program/performance on Duke Ellington for the Smithsonian Associates in Washington, 7.21.

Several staff from Affiliates took part in the George Washington University Museum Leadership Training Program in Washington, 7.25-26.

GEORGIA

Design curator Ellen Lupton to speak in Atlanta in August.

Design curator Ellen Lupton to speak in Atlanta in August.

Ellen Lupton, a curator at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum will present a talk on her recent work on design exhibitions at the Museum of Design in Atlanta, 8.2.

PENNSYLVANIA
The National Museum of Industrial History will open its doors to the public and host a dedication ceremony featuring staff from the Smithsonian, in Bethlehem, 8.2.

Manda Kowalczyk, conservator from the National Postal Museum, will participate in Pittsburgh’s Hidden Treasures: An Antiques Appraisal Show at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, 8.7.

MARYLAND
The College Park Aviation Museum will open Mail Call, an exhibition from the National Postal Museum and SITES in College Park, 8.6.

FLORIDA
The Orange County Regional History Center  will open SITES’ Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project in Orlando, 8.20.

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.

at_NPG2.Jan2016

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

 

.

I Am Psyched! Pop-Up Museum Explores Contributions of Women of Color in Psychology

Many thanks to guest author Cathy Faye, PhD, assistant director at the Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology at the University of Akron for this post!

Museums have the power to present us with unfamiliar and interesting places, spaces, things, ideas, and people. Sometimes, these things are new to us, things we haven’t seen before. Sometimes, we are seeing a new interpretation of something that is otherwise familiar. In both cases, museums show us not only what is, but what is possible. When we learn something new about the world, the boundaries of our places and spaces expand, and we see ourselves fitting into them in new ways.

High-school students explore exhibits at the Museum of Psychology at the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology. Archives of the History of American Psychology, The University of Akron

High-school students explore exhibits at the Museum of Psychology at the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology. Archives of the History of American Psychology, The University of Akron

In 2016, a new pop-up museum experience in Washington, DC will work with this idea of using the past, present, and future to expand our ideas of what has been and what is possible for women and girls of color in the field of psychology.

I Am Psyched!

I Am Psyched! is a collaboration between the American Psychological Association, The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology (a Smithsonian Affiliate), and Psychology’s Feminist Voices. Designed as part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Day Live! initiative, I Am Psyched! focuses on illuminating the past, present, and future of women of color in the field of psychology. Historically, psychology has been dominated by white men. However, the period following World War II and the Civil Rights Movement, women of color entered the field in greater numbers, leaving inspirational stories and paving the way for a more diverse and inclusive psychology.

I Am Psyched! explores these stories and celebrates the legacies of these women through a pop-up museum exhibit, a live-streamed conversation hour with groundbreaking women psychologists, and on-site and virtual learning activities.

The pop-up exhibit, to be installed at the American Psychological Association’s Capitol View Conference Center in Washington, DC, will feature film, sound recordings, images, artifacts, and letters that tell the fascinating story of how women of color have and continue to contribute to psychology.

Alberta Banner Turner, 1909-2008, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The University of Akron

Alberta Banner Turner, 1909-2008, Archives of the History of American Psychology, The University of Akron

For example, the exhibit will feature the story of Alberta Banner Turner, who received her doctoral degree in the 1930s—the first black woman to earn a Ph.D. from Ohio State University. Throughout her career, Turner fought for racial equality and spoke out loudly against racial injustice.

Turner’s story is just one of many that will be explored through interactive learning stations, where visitors can explore the history of women of color in psychology and participate in activities that encourage reflection on issues of race, gender, and ethnicity in the social and behavioral sciences.

Museum Day Live! Event

The pop-up museum will be launched on March 12, 2016 for the Smithsonian’s Museum Day Live! event. On Museum Day, several prominent women psychologists will lead a conversation hour, which will be recorded and livestreamed. Recognizing that March 12, 2016 is also National Girl Scout Day, we will design activities for participating girl scouts to earn their own Museum Day-related merit badge by interacting with the exhibits in various ways. We are excited to be able to highlight the rich history and path-breaking contributions of women of color to psychology to inspire the next generation of psychologists.

 

MDL

Kids go bonkers for Superman suit

The signature blue, red and yellow suit worn by mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent wore as Superman is at the Ohio History Center, the headquarters of Ohio History Connection, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, thanks to a loan from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The suit, worn by actor George Reeves in the 1950s televeision show, is part of 1950s: Building the American Dream, a new exhibit at the History Center.

Read the O Say Can You See? blog about this loan.

The Columbus Dispatch posted this video the day the suit was unveiled. They were on hand to see some local school children go bonkers over the suit. Check it out below.

And read the entire Columbus Dispatch story here.

Follow @SIAffiliates, @amhistorymuseum, and @OhioHistory on Twitter to follow the #superman weekend (October 10, 2015 the exhibition opens to the public).

Starting a teen docent program

Special thanks to guest author Brittany Vernon, IMLS Apprentice at Ohio Affiliate, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, for this inspiring post.

Freedom Center Apprentice Brittany Vernon comes to Washington to work with education colleagues at the Anacostia Community Museum

Freedom Center Apprentice Brittany Vernon comes to Washington to work with education colleagues at the Anacostia Community Museum

As an emerging museum professional, my current position as an IMLS Apprentice at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, OH, is centered on learning as much as I can within the field while also gaining valuable work experience in my areas of interests. My passions are African American history and culture and public outreach to underrepresented people in museums, so the work that I do for the Freedom Center reflects that. As a co-leader of the museum’s Youth Docent Program, I get to reach out to local high school students, get them excited about what the Freedom Center offers through training seminars, and encourage them to volunteer as tour guides during their summer vacation. Yes, you read that right: teens + museum + volunteering + summer vacation – it seems impossible and certainly makes for a daunting task. It is also one of the most rewarding projects because of the personal growth and development each student experiences throughout the course of the program once they’re hooked.

Now, when it came time to choose where I would spend my 3-week IMLS internship away from the Freedom Center, I wanted to choose a museum that was engaging in similar work. And for anyone with aspirations of working in the museum field, working in a Smithsonian museum in Washington D.C. represents the ultimate in education and museum leadership (besides being a total dream come true!). In picking a museum, I knew the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum [ACM] would be the perfect fit for me because of its focus on urban community issues and populations and its desire to engage teen audiences by starting a youth docent program.

Brittany models the kinds of tours that teens might give of ACM's How the Civil War Changed Washington exhibition.

Brittany models the kinds of tours that teens might give of ACM’s How the Civil War Changed Washington exhibition.

Using existing models including those at the Freedom Center and other Smithsonian Affiliate Museums, the ACM tasked me with creating a guide for a Youth Docent Program that they could implement in upcoming school years. After a week of research, tours and interviews with adult docents and Education staff at the ACM, I was ready to put together a plan. My proposed Youth Docent Program offers teens an opportunity to learn how to interpret museum content for the public and improve their own interpersonal skills and then earn community service hours by giving tours. Through monthly training sessions, teens learn about the content that the museum holds, and that it really is a place for them. Guest speakers and trips expose them to arts/culture-related career options. Finally, through research and writing assignments, teens feel empowered by the knowledge they now hold and are able to share with the public.

The ACM is not alone in its struggle to get teens into its space. Museums across the nation have trouble attracting and retaining the interest of teenagers that for the most part would rather be on their phones than walking through a museum. But from my experiences, a youth docent program is the perfect first step in addressing the gap. When you hook teens with things they already enjoy like spending time with like-minded peers, social media, field trips, games and a guaranteed resume building opportunity, they are more willing to invest and learn a lot along the way. The end result is a group of teens that will advocate for your museum and encourage their family and friends to visit if not only to see the teens in action.

Bringing fresh and youthful voices into museum settings that are sometimes thought of as static and rigid only adds to the wealth of knowledge that institutions like this hold, and shows that museums really can serve a purpose for people from all stages and walks of life, which I am all about. I encourage every museum to start some form of teen outreach if they haven’t already.

Brittany passionately pursues African American history and culture, and issues of freedom and social justice in her museum career.

Brittany passionately pursues African American history and culture, and issues of freedom and social justice in her museum career.

Now that I am back at the Freedom Center, I look forward to continuing my work with the Youth Docent Program with a new group of students this year. I also know that the new Youth Docent Program at the Anacostia Community Museum will be successful in its efforts to connect more with teenagers in the Anacostia neighborhood. Hopefully in a few years, it can evolve to serve as a model for peer institutions that may have similar goals.

Special thanks to IMLS, Smithsonian Affiliations, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center for giving me the opportunity to have this experience.