All Aboard! Welcome to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

Affiliations Director Harold Closter gives remarks to welcome the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvanian to the Smithsonian family.

Affiliations Director Harold Closter gives remarks to welcome the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania to the Smithsonian family.

On November 4, Smithsonian Affiliations welcomed the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania into the Affiliate network.  The Museum, located in Strasburg, is the first member of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) properties to join the Smithsonian family.  At the affiliation announcement ceremony, representatives from the state and federal legislatures gave remarks, as well as the director of PHMC and president of the Lancaster County Community Foundation.

Smithsonian Affiliations thanks Senator Patrick M. Browne of the Pennsylvania State Senate, 16th District, for the thoughtful comments he provided at the event (below) to mark this celebration and remind us of the power of history and partnerships in shaping the American experience.

“I can only guess how many of you recently shared something with me. I am proud to say that I was totally engrossed in the baseball drama of the Cubs and Indians for the last two weeks. Of course, the drama was created by the fact that the Chicago Cubs, until two days ago, were the longest standing major professional sports franchise in America without a championship. Not since 1908 were the Cubs at the top of Major League baseball.

To highlight this fact, during the contest, Fox Sports was running special interest pieces to put 1908 in perspective, such as in 1908, Al Capone was 9 years old, Thomas Edison was 62, Mark Twain was 72 and a loaf of bread cost 2 cents.

Senator Browne delivering his remarks at the affiliation announcement.

Senator Browne delivering his remarks at the affiliation announcement.

But as railroad enthusiasts tend to do, we can put all of our experiences in a railroad perspective. So, what I was thinking while these special interest pieces were running, was that 1908 was two years before Penn Station first opened in New York City. By 1908, the great Pennsylvania Railroad had yet to conquer Gotham.

I was thinking that during their last championship year, if the Cubs were traveling from Chicago to face the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds in Harlem, they probably and unfortunately rode the New York Central. Everyone knows, however, how easy it was to build a bridge across the Hudson River in Albany.  Some rivalries never die. If they were traveling from the south or from Chicago, their journey on the trains of the Pennsylvania Railroad concluded in Jersey City.  A ferry waited there to take them for the final mile across the Hudson to Manhattan for there was, of course, no railroad tunnels under the Hudson in 1908.  The “Sand Hogs” were still working, sometimes dying, to complete those tunnels.

The fact is that one of the greatest achievements in human history — Penn Station — a building for the ages, was born, lived and died more than 40 years before the Chicago Cubs again won the World Series.  That is a long time, or is it?

The interesting question is why this World Series was so compelling to so many? Why so many baseball and non-baseball fans, 40 million strong, were captivated by it?  The simple answer is that it provided a bridge to the past, a connection to those whose achievements, no matter how long ago, helped in their own way to build what and who we are in 2016. In short, it served as a collective celebration of ourselves.

Well, within the walls of this “best of its kind in the nation” facility, the many who come here experience the same thing. For our past achievements in no other area but railroading define us better. Railroads have defined who we are, the communities that we live in and the quality of life that we enjoy. 

Achievements in railroading took human innovation to new heights, collapsed time and space by connecting people and communities across distances never before possible, removed for the first time the shackles that Mother Nature had on human progress, provided a permanent venue for the integration of the America’s collage of culture and capacity and advanced the standard and wellbeing of millions like no other industry before or since.  In short, the railroads were the epicenter of American human and technological achievement and, upon reflection, an inspiration of what the American spirit can always achieve.

With more railroad companies, more rail miles per square mile, more tonnage and more passengers, Pennsylvania railroading, of course, as the slogan goes, is the standard for the country and the world.  In no other place than in Pennsylvania is the journey of railroading in the American conscience more compelling. With the Keystone State at the pinnacle of railroad lore and legacy, no Pennsylvanian can truly understand the state that they live in and its place in the world without having a knowledge and appreciation of the story told within these walls.

The Olomana locomotive, on loan from the National Museum of American History.

The Olomana locomotive, on loan from the National Museum of American History.

A Smithsonian Affiliation of course, as it does for a multitude of outstanding historical assets nationwide, provides endless possibilities to improve the value and offerings of this facility to the maximum benefit of all our citizens. But at its core, it is much more than that. Most important and most fundamental is what the partnership communicates, what it elevates in the hearts and minds of Pennsylvanians and all Americans about the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and its compelling core mission: a venue for personal reflection, through the stories of people and property of railroading, of our collective journey. A path forged on steel rails to what we have become and, as Americans, what we are always capable of being. As will be the legacy of the 2016 World Series in American folklore, this facility is a timeless celebration of ourselves.

“Trains are wonderful, wrote railroad enthusiast and author Agatha Christie.  “To travel by train is to see nature and human beings, in fact, to see life.”

On behalf of the Pennsylvania Senate, to the Smithsonian and the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, thank you and congratulations for allowing our citizens to see and appreciate the value that railroading plays in their lives and the life of our state and our nation.”

 

 

 

Affiliates in the news

Here’s a recap of our Affiliate news makers in October. If you have a clipping that highlights a collaboration with the Smithsonian or with a fellow Affiliate, or a clipping that demonstrates leadership in education, innovation, and arts/culture/history/science you’d like to have considered for the Affiliate blog, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. (Tamika Moore | tmoore@al.com)

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. (Tamika Moore | tmoore@al.com)

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, AL)
Birmingham Civil Rights District should be designated a national park
While I walked through NMAAHC and shared information with my two daughters, I was reminded of Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s long connection with the museum. Before there was one brick in place, BCRI collaborated with NMAAHC on numerous projects, including showcasing one of its traveling exhibitions, “Let Your Motto Be Resistance,” back in 2009. Our staff has supported its efforts in planning, the securing of objects and community support.

Springfield Museum of Art (Springfield, OH)
New Smithsonian museum has Dayton connection
A traveling exhibit “A Place for All People” is also designed to pique interest in the new museum. That show, a collection of posters, is currently on display at the Springfield Museum of Art. Ann Fortescue, the Springfield museum’s executive director, says one of the many benefits of being a Smithsonian Affiliate museum is sharing what’s happening at the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. with audiences in the Miami Valley.

"Star Wars and the Power of Costume" showcases not only the outfits that have become iconic, but the process behind the creation of the characters and their adornments. In the exhibition, you'll see both concept art (left) and the final looks (right), including these of C-3PO and R2-D2 from "Star Wars: A New Hope" and "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back." —Photo © & ™ 2016 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. Used under authorization

“Star Wars and the Power of Costume” showcases not only the outfits that have become iconic, but the process behind the creation of the characters and their adornments. In the exhibition, you’ll see both concept art (left) and the final looks (right), including these of C-3PO and R2-D2 from “Star Wars: A New Hope” and “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.” —Photo © & â„¢ 2016 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. Used under authorization

Denver Art Museum (Denver, CO)
Behind the Scenes of the DAM’s Upcoming “Star Wars” Exhibit
It’s been a few days since the latest Rogue One: A Star Wars Story trailer was released, and it’s another two months until the film hits theaters—but don’t despair. You can get your fill of the Star Wars world in the interim with Star Wars and the Power of Costume, which takes over the second floor of the Denver Art Museum (DAM) from November 13 through April 2.

New Mexico Museum of Space History (Alamogordo, NM)
New Exhibit to Showcase Gene Roddenberry’s Vision
But the smallest exhibit cases may be the ones that hold the real treasures, straight from the vault of the Smithsonian. The Star Trek episode The Trouble With Tribbles, written by David Gerrold who will be a special guest on opening night, revolves around furry little critters that multiply at an incredible rate and who also have a serious dislike for Klingons. Although the Starship Enterprise was overrun by tribbles at the time, only a very few remain in existence today. The tribble visitors will admire inside its eight inch case was actually used in that episode and is on loan to the museum from the Smithsonian.

National Civil Rights Museum (Memphis, TN)
The Smithsonian Names the National Civil Rights Museum as an Affiliate Museum
The National Civil Rights Museum has been named a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate. The Museum is the second Smithsonian Affiliate in Memphis, and seventh in the state of Tennessee. 

Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA)
National Museum of American History Examines Religion in America
Led by Richard Pickering, deputy executive director of Plimoth Plantation, the documentary theater program will explore the intersection of two musical traditions: hymns and psalms from the Church of England and Calvinist congregations and the sacred songs and dance of the Wampanoag, the indigenous people of Cape Cod, the Islands and southern Massachusetts.

Peoria Riverfront Museum (Peoria, IL)
Peoria Fine Arts Society hosts lectures on new national African American museum
Author, lecturer and teacher John W. Franklin will speak at the Peoria Riverfront Museum on Oct. 13 about the National Museum of African American History and Culture that recently opened on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

ncbirdstudy

Researchers simulated a gannet plunging into water, capturing the process with a high-speed camera. (Image by Sunny Jung/Virginia Tech)

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Raleigh, NC)
STUDY SHOWS HOW BIRDS DIVE SAFELY AT HIGH SPEEDS
To analyze the bird’s body shape and neck musculature, the team used a salvaged gannet provided by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. They also created 3-D printed replicas of gannet skulls from the collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, which helped them measure the forces on the skull as it enters the water. 

DuSable Museum of African American History (Chicago, IL)
What’s Ahead for Chicago’s DuSable Museum (VIDEO)
The DuSable Museum of African American History was founded in 1957 and it continues to showcase a rich and sometimes difficult history. Over the last year, two new executives have taken charge of the DuSable Museum. President and CEO Perri Irmer and chief curator Leslie Guy join host Eddie Arruza in discussion.

Las Vegas Natural History Museum (Las Vegas, NV)
Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Introduces World’s Largest Snake
Slithering in at 48 feet long and weighing an estimated one-and-a-half tons, a realistic replica of the world’s largest snake will on exhibit at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum from Oct. 14 through Jan. 8.

dusable

 

kudos affiliates

Congrats to these Affiliates on their recent accomplishments.

Funding

Mystic Seaport announced today it has received a $1 million gift from the Thompson Family Foundation to support the Thompson Exhibition Building, the Museum’s first new exhibition building in more than four decades. The Thompson Building opened to visitors on September 24, 2016. The Thompson Family Foundation’s latest gift caps the $15.3 million required to fund the exhibition building and the McGraw Gallery Quadrangle project. This fundraising effort was scheduled to conclude on December 31. The first exhibit to be featured in the Thompson Building will be “Sea-Change,” a dramatic presentation of a range of beautiful and unique objects drawn from the collections of Mystic Seaport.

Massachusetts officials have announced state funding for an exhibit at a new museum highlighting the life and work of a renowned children’s book author. The two state senators representing Springfield, Eric Lesser and James Welch, said Wednesday that $200,000 has been earmarked for a bilingual literacy exhibit in the new Dr. Seuss Museum. Springfield Museums President Kay Simpson said momentum is building toward the opening of the new museum in just a few months. The museum will be the only one in the world devoted exclusively to Theodore Geisel, the Springfield native who authored the Dr. Seuss children’s books.

IMLS announced four STEMeX awards– the first of their kind for the agency – which fund research on informal educational approaches that make use of the knowledge and skills of community Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) experts. These long anticipated awards generated a tremendous response from the field, and all of us at IMLS are anxious to see the results of this important work. Researchers from the High Desert Museum, Oregon State University Cascades and the Deschutes Public Library, will answer questions including: How might the experts’ use of storytelling impact rural families’ talk during STEM activities, understanding of the nature of science, engagement, and attitudes?

Awards and Recognition

Antonio “Tony” J. Busalacchi, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), will be inducted next week into the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) during a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Election to the NAE honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice, or education. It is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer and those working at the intersection of science and engineering. Busalacchi was elected for his contributions to “understanding of tropical oceans in coupled climate systems via remotely sensed observations and for international leadership of climate prediction/projection research.”

The Arab American National Museum’s (AANM) founding director, Dr. Anan Ameri, has been selected for induction into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. Ameri is one of nine women chosen, from among more than 110 nominees, to receive the honor  as a member of the 33rd class of the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, part of the Michigan Women’s Historical Center in Lansing.

The Greensboro Historical Museum has received a national award from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) for the exhibition “Warnersville: Our Home, Our Neighborhood, Our Stories.” The Leadership in History Award is the most prestigious form of recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

 

November in Affiliateland

Is the Smithsonian in your neighborhood? Probably so! These Affiliates are bringing the Smithsonian to communities across the U.S. in November!

Georgia

From Clay to Copper: The Story of the Etowah Valley, a new exhibition at the Tellus Science Museum, includes 64 Native American artifacts and minerals from the National Museum of Natural History, in Cartersville beginning 11.5.

from-clay-to-copper-fb-event

Washington, D.C.

National Museum of American History features Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA) in Waking the Ancestors: Recovering the Lost and Sacred Sounds of Colonial America, a public program at the museum on 11.5-6.

plimoth-fur_1200

Florida

Daniel Piazza, curator at the National Postal Museum will present a lecture on communicating during the Revolutionary War at St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, in St. Augustine 11.10.

 

Colorado

Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Warsâ„¢ and the Power of Costume opens at the Denver Art Museum, in Denver 11.13. The exhibition was developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in partnership with the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and Lucasfilm Ltd.

costumesbanner

Wisconsin

The Civil War Museum, part of Kenosha Public Museums, will display Changing America:  The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963, an exhibition presented by the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History, in Kenosha 11.16.

Button for the 1941 March National Museum of American History, gift of Rita Jaros

Button for the 1941 March
National Museum of American History, gift of Rita Jaros

Kudos Affiliates

Congrats to these Affiliates on their recent accomplishments!

Funding
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced grants for 206 museum projects totaling $21,149,000, including the following Affiliate initiatives:

Historic Annapolis (Annapolis, MD) Award: $150,000.00
Historic Annapolis will design, fabricate, and install the proposed exhibition, “A History of Annapolis in 99 Objects.” The exhibition will tell the broad, inclusive story of Maryland’s capital city.

National Museum of American Jewish History (Philadelphia, PA)  Award: $150,000.00
The National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) will develop a small-scale traveling exhibition to broaden access to stories of the American Jewish people for schools, synagogues, and museums across the country. “Let My People Go: The Movement to Free Soviet Jews” will feature custom curricula, a programming handbook, and pre-designed marketing materials to inspire dialogue on contemporary issues of immigration, refugees, and religious freedom.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science (Denver, CO)  Award: $128,506.00
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science will deliver, expand, and evaluate whole-school museum education experiences for all students and teachers in elementary and K-8 schools in two under-resourced school districts.

Mystic Seaport (Mystic, CT)  Award:  $24,971.00
Mystic Seaport will extend the reach, impact, and diversity of its first-person interpretation program which is a hallmark of the museum experience. New interpreters will conduct extensive historical research, participate in professional development opportunities, and create costumes to develop their characters.

Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (San Juan, PR)  Award:  $25,000.00
The Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico will continue its Art and Technology for Youth at Risk initiative which provides learning opportunities for at-risk young adults by integrating museum programming and exhibits, and partner organization programming, into an afterschool program.

San Diego Natural History Museum  (San Diego, CA)  Award:  $148,239.00
The San Diego Natural History Museum will design a program entitled SPECTRUM, which will provide a structured opportunity for high-functioning, verbal young adults (ages 18-25) with autism spectrum disorder to collaborate with their peers in practicing social skills and participate in organized fieldtrips.

National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium (Dubuque, IA)  Award:  $148,795.00
The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium will catalog, inventory, document, and re-house approximately 6,200 undocumented or under-documented objects in their collection, representing 35 percent of their total collection. This documentation is critical to the continued understanding of the people and cultures of the Mississippi River.

B & O Railroad Museum  (Baltimore, MD)  Award:  $150,000.00
The B&O Railroad Museum will undertake the restoration and treatment of B&O #51, the first streamlined diesel locomotive put into service, which in 1937 represented a major shift in locomotive technology. Project activities include research and documentation, asbestos abatement, preservation of original materials, inspection and restoration of subassemblies, and restoring original locomotive finishes to their 1937 appearances.

Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Indian Museum  (Clewiston, FL)  Award:  $105,600.00
The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Indian Museum will install high-density moveable shelving in the museum’s main building vault. The proposed shelving will double the vault’s storage space, allowing materials to be properly stored and creating much-needed room for future collection growth.

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture (Seattle, WA)  Award: $148,531.00
In anticipation of a new museum facility, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington will improve the collection care, management, and accessibility of its malacology (shell) collection, considered the most extensive and valuable in the Pacific Northwest.

Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ)  Award:  $149,164.00
The Arizona State Museum will re-house 2,000 archeological basketry specimens with high scholarly significance and interest to the museum and its audiences and will treat 116 high-priority archeological items identified as unstable and threatened with further deterioration.

San Diego Museum of Man  (San Diego, CA)  Award:  $149,534.00
The San Diego Museum of Man (SDMoM) will improve stewardship and collection management of its ethnographic weapons collection by re-housing 3,000 artifacts for long-term preservation.

Museum of History and Industry (Seattle, WA)  Award:  $149,977.00
The Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) will create high-quality digital images with metadata tags for 5,287 artifacts, archival materials, photographs, and oral histories relating to the diverse history of the Seattle and Puget Sound region. Images will be searchable by the public and staff through the museum’s online collections management system and through a shared regional online repository hosted by the University of Washington.

Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA)  Award:  $149,245.00
Plimoth Plantation will partner with Mystic Seaport’s Henry B. du Pont Preservation Shipyard to restore 27 planks along the lower port side of the Mayflower II’s hull as part of the larger effort to return the vessel to U.S. Coast Guard operational status, scheduled for 2020.

San Diego Air & Space Museum  (San Diego, CA)  Award:  $150,000.00
The San Diego Air & Space Museum will improve its management of and broaden access to 30,000 collection objects in phase two of its Great Explorations project. Project activities will include connecting this database to the museum’s digital asset management system; and making the data and images available via Flickr, the museum’s website, and its online catalog, AeroCat.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science (Denver, CO)  Award:  $149,975.00
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science will conduct conservation stabilization treatment for 375 high-priority objects in its American Ethnology Collection of materials from 420 American Indian tribes, including clothing and accessories, cradleboards, musical instruments and toys, kachina, household items, horse gear and travel, and weapons.

Denver Art Museum (Denver, CO)  Award:  $128,065.00
The Denver Art Museum will catalog, document, migrate, and rehouse 425 electronic media artworks in four of its art and design collections. This collection includes artworks with video, audio, digital image, software, and website components contained on a range of storage media including videotapes, audiotapes, optical media, computer diskettes, and external hard drives.

Michigan State University Museum  (East Lansing, MI)  Award:  $50,607.00
Michigan State University Museum will conduct general conservation surveys of the museum’s natural science and cultural collections and begin to implement short-term care and rehousing improvements.

Springfield Museums (Springfield, MA)  Award:  $106,592.00
The Springfield Museums will stabilize and restore twenty Tiffany stained glass windows that are original to the main facade of the historic George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum which opened in 1896. The goals of the project are to stabilize the windows and to restore them, as closely as possible, to their original appearance and condition, using appropriate conservation techniques and materials.

International Museum of Art & Science (McAllen, TX)  Award:  $24,946.00
The International Museum of Art & Science will improve the storage conditions for their framed art collection of approximately 600 pieces. The museum will purchase five mobile art racks and nineteen art storage shelves that will be installed in the museum’s storage room.

History Colorado (Denver, CO) has been awarded a $2.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning program. The project explores the integration of Native American knowledge with Western science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The five-year grant will engage 128,000 STEM learners, educators, and experts across Colorado and Utah in: cutting-edge archaeological and ethnobotanical field work;  interactive exhibits and videos; public programs for families and adults; statewide K-12 education outreach programs, digital badges, and teacher training; and findings for museums, tribes, and scientists.

University Corporation For Atmospheric Research (UCAR) (Boulder, CO) has been awarded a $228,110 grant from NSF. The project, Integrating Indigenous and Western Knowledge to Transform Learning and Discovery in the Geosciences, uses the principles of collective impact to create new partnerships between tribal communities and STEM institutions that promote the participation and inclusion of Native American scientists in the geosciences.

 

October 2016 is BUSY in Affiliateland!

Thanks to all our Affiliates for such great work!

CONNECTICUT
Affiliations program Director Harold Closter will announce the new affiliation with the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford, 10.5.

IOWA
The Dubuque Museum of Art will hold a videoconference on En Plein Air with the American Art Museum in Dubuque, 10.11.

LOUISIANA
The Smithsonian Associates will be working with three Affiliates – the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, the St. Louis Science Center and the Museum of Arts and Sciences on GEAR UP, a science education program for 8th graders in Lafayette, 10.11-13.

MISSOURI
National Outreach Manager Aaron Glavas will announce the new affiliation with the St. Louis Science Center, and National Air and Space Museum educator Tim Grove will present a book talk at a Member Open House event in St. Louis, on 10.13.

HAWAII
The Pacific Aviation Museum will host an astrophotography workshop with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, in Honolulu, 10.13-14.

ARIZONA
The Heard Museum will open the exhibition Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist from the National Museum of the American Indian, in Phoenix, 10.13

GEORGIA
Staff from the National Museum of Natural History will be giving talks at a private event for the Atlanta Regional Host Committee at the David Sencer Centers for Disease Control Museum in Atlanta, 10.13.

NEVADA
The Las Vegas Natural History Museum will open the SITES exhibition Titanaboa in Las Vegas, 10.15.

NORTH CAROLINA
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will host the Board meeting and associated activities of the Smithsonian Science Education Center in Raleigh, 10.17.

WASHINGTON, DC
Over 120 Affiliate staff will help celebrate the 20th anniversary of Smithsonian Affiliations at the annual conference in Washington, 10.17-20.

TENNESSEE
John Franklin from the National African American Museum will announce the new affiliation with the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, 10.20.

OHIO
National Outreach Manager Jennifer Brundage will give comments at the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology groundbreaking, dedication and dinner event in Akron, 10.22.

American Art Museum curator Virginia Mecklenburg will present a talk on Seeing America with Norman Rockwell at the Springfield Museum of Art in Springfield, 10.25.

COLORADO
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Smithsonian Science Education Center will collaborate on workshops on Building Awareness for Science Education in Denver, 10.24-25.

DELAWARE
National Museum of American History curator Katherine Ott will attend and offer commentary at the Making of Modern Disability conference at the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, 10.28.