Small artifacts, big impact at the National Museum of American Jewish History

Special thanks to Monica Reardon, Smithsonian Affiliations summer intern, for authoring the 2013 Smithsonian #MuseumDayLive! blog series.

An Affiliate since 2001, the National Museum of American Jewish History was established in 1976 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The museum explores and interprets the American Jewish experience through exhibitions and public programs.  It tells the stories of Jews who migrated to America from around the world, eventually becoming today’s Jewish Americans.

Albert Einstein's Pipe. Photo courtesy National Museum of American History.

Albert Einstein’s Pipe. Photo courtesy National Museum of American History.

During Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day Live! this year, visitors can explore artifacts on loan from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, such as Albert Einstein’s pipe and a vial of Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine.  The artifacts have been on view since November 2010; both installed in the museum’s Only in America® Gallery/Hall of Fame.

Only in America® is an innovative combination of multimedia, original artifacts and interactive experiences.  It illustrates the choices, challenges and opportunities of eighteen Jewish Americans, which include Albert Einstein and Jonas Salk.  Ivy Weingram, associate curator, points out

“visitors to Only in America® have the opportunity to explore both the personal and professional sides of our honorees.  Some are represented through the iconic objects of their careers—Salk’s vaccine, Spielberg’s camera, Berlin’s piano—and others, like Einstein’s pipe, lend a personal touch to an otherwise monumental figure.”

Polio Vaccine Vial. Photo courtesy National Museum of American History.

Polio Vaccine Vial. Photo courtesy National Museum of American History.

Her favorite artifact of the exhibition would have to be the vial of polio vaccine.  “It is one of the smallest artifacts in the exhibition, but its impact is undoubtedly among the greatest. I always think about that as I pass it in the gallery—how tiny and easily overlooked it is, but where would the world be without it?”

Weingram would love for visitors to be able to make connections between their own lives and the achievements and contributions of the 18 individuals.  “The laws of our land, the songwriting that has influenced generations of American music, over a century of innovations in American Judaism, game-changing sports heroes, scientific discovery—all are represented in Only in America®. Where do you feel their impact? How have they affected the way you live your life every day? How do you perpetuate their legacy?”

Is the Smithsonian in your neighborhood? Find out which other Affiliates are participating in #MuseumDayLive on September 28, 2013, here.

Swingin’ with the Smithsonian in Daytona Beach

15038_10151615476644102_362315537_nSpecial thanks to Monica Reardon, Smithsonian Affiliations summer intern, for authoring the 2013 #MuseumDayLive! Affiliate blog series.

The Museum of Arts & Sciences (MOAS) is a science and history museum located in Daytona Beach, Florida.  This Affiliate’s collections showcase a multitude of topics, which include Coca-Cola® memorabilia, paintings of Florida, a giant ground sloth skeleton, celestial charts, and more.  Not to mention a planetarium, an open storage building, and two off-site exhibit areas.  The Museum, since joining Affiliations in 2000, has featured a variety of Smithsonian objects, exhibitions, and programs.

In that spirit, MOAS will be welcoming speakers, musicians and affiliates of the Smithsonian Institution to Daytona Beach for its 3rd Annual Septembers with the Smithsonian series of events. Beginning September 6th, MOAS will be featuring an exhibition as well as special speakers from the Smithsonian Institution and other Smithsonian Affiliates.

“Septembers with the Smithsonian was created to share the benefits of our Smithsonian Affiliation with our community,” stated MOAS Executive Director, Andrew Sandall. “It’s a chance for us to show the diversity of the subject matter museums preserve. Any form of art, either physical or performed, has influenced people’s lives and made them who they are today – the same pieces have different meanings and interpretations for each of us and become part of us.”

A fellow Smithsonian Affiliate museum, the Orange County Regional History Center, has generously loaned the artworks in Highwaymen: African-American Folk Artists of Florida which will be on exhibition through the Fall. On September 12, visitors can explore Florida’s marine environments at the Smithsonian Marine Station with Dr. Valerie Paul, Director of the Smithsonian Marine Station at Ft. Pierce. In addition, Underwater Archaeologist Chuck Meide, from the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum–another Smithsonian Affiliate– will talk about the British Revolutionary Warship, the “Storm Wreck” on September 18. Other speakers will present topics such as archeology, biology and paleobiology, some of which will be highlighted in the Museum’s Natural History Festival on September 21st.

969531_10151615475654102_177155945_nOn September 28th from 7-9pm, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra (SJMO) will perform “Swingin’ with the Smithsonian,” featuring vocalist Lena Seikaly. The SJMO will perform selections from the Ella Fitzgerald song book. A special matinee concert for children, “Swingin’ with the Smithsonian Junior” has been added to the concert schedule this year, and will take place Saturday, September 28th from 2-3pm at MOAS.

“Septembers with the Smithsonian was created to share the benefits of our Smithsonian Affiliation with our community. We are looking forward to each of this year’s exciting events at MOAS,” stated MOAS Executive Director, Andrew Sandall.

This year, Smithsonian Museum Day Live! is September 28th. Visitors who present the Museum Day Live! ticket will gain free entrance for two at participating venues for one day only. One ticket is permitted per household, per email address. This ticket is not valid for “Swingin’ with the Smithsonian” or “Swingin’ with the Smithsonian Junior” concerts. This project received financial assistance from VISIT FLORIDA. Exhibits and dates subject to change.

Is the Smithsonian in your neighborhood? Find out which other Affiliates are participating in #MuseumDayLive on September 28, 2013, here.

 

 

every time i visit your museum, bling bling

Special thanks to Monica Reardon, Smithsonian Affiliations summer intern, for authoring the 2013 Smithsonian #MuseumDayLive! blog series.

Housed in an historic bank building on Wall Street in New York City, the Museum of American Finance is dedicated to preserving, exhibiting and teaching about American finance and financial history.  The founder, John Herzog, began with two exhibits in a U.S. Custom House in 1988.  Since then, this independent, non-profit museum has gradually expanded in exhibits and programs to what it is today, including becoming a Smithsonian Affiliate in 2001.

Monopoly Game Pieces

Monopoly Game Pieces

The museum currently has on display a unique piece on long-term loan from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Visitors during Smithsonian Museum Day Live! can get up close to a golden, bejeweled Monopoly set worth $2 million, created by jeweler Sidney Mobell.  The board and pieces are solid 18-karat gold and encrusted with 165 precious gemstones including diamonds, rubies and emeralds.  Bling Bling!! Even the dice are blinged-out with 42 full-cut diamonds marking the number dots on the die.

“We have quite a few finance-related board games in our collection, and games are a great way to introduce basic financial concepts to visitors. It made sense to borrow the Monopoly set for display,” noted Becky Laughner, Director of Exhibits & Archives.

The “eye-catching” Monopoly set attracts a variety of visitors from grade-school students to bank executives.  “We display many paper documents, and the Monopoly set could not be more different, while still assisting us in teaching financial history and promoting financial literacy.”

Laughner hopes that the game helps visitors “to understand that learning about finance can be fun and interesting.”  She adds,

“We hope visitors leave [the Museum] with a better understanding of money, finance and US history, and we realize that these topics are common threads that run through almost every aspect of our lives.”

Is the Smithsonian in your neighborhood? Find out which other Affiliates are participating in #MuseumDayLive on September 28, 2013, here.

Monopoly Board Game

Monopoly Board Game

Satisfy your Museum Day hunger with a Flying Pancake

Special thanks to Monica Reardon, Smithsonian Affiliations summer intern, for authoring the 2013 Smithsonian #MuseumDayLive! blog series.

A donation in 1963 to The University of Texas marked the beginnings of the museum Frontiers of Flight, now located in Dallas, Texas.  The collection of artifacts and archival materials of George Haddaway, an aviation historian and the publisher of “Flight” magazine, became the “History of Aviation Collection.”  The collection then moved from Austin to The University of Texas at Dallas in the late 1970’s.  Eventually, The Frontiers of Flight Museum was formed as an organization in 1988.  From there, it grew into what it is today.

Frontiers of Flight became a Smithsonian Affiliate in 2002 and has consistently participated in Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day Live! for the past 7 years. The museum recently helped restore the Chance Vought V-173 Flying Pancake, on long-term loan to the museum from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM). In addition, visitors to the museum can view the Apollo 7 Command Module and more than 20 other space-related artifacts also on loan from NASM.

Is the Smithsonian in your neighborhood? Find out which other Affiliates are participating in #MuseumDayLive on September 28, 2013, here

Vought V-173 "Flying Pancake" at Frontiers of Flight Museum

Photo courtesy Joseph May (C) 2012 at Travel for Aircraft

engineering ingenuity at the buffalo bill center of the west

Special thanks to Monica Reardon, Smithsonian Affiliations summer intern, for authoring the 2013 #MuseumDayLive! Affiliate blog series.

Patent model, Smith & Wesson Magazine Lever Action Pistol. AF*251055. Image provided by Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Patent model, Smith & Wesson Magazine Lever Action Pistol. AF*251055. Image provided by Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West had its start as a log building in Cody, Wyoming, resembling Buffalo Bill’s TE Ranch house.  Mary Jester Allen intended the museum to be a national shrine and memorial to her uncle, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, and to the early pioneers of the American West.  The collections grew and so did the Museum, with the intent of preserving and conveying the “Spirit of the American West.” 

The Center has participated in Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day Live! since becoming a Smithsonian Affiliate in 2008. On view at the Cody Firearms Museum in time for Museum Day Live! this year are 64 unique firearms from the National Firearms Collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.  The exhibit is divided between patent firearms (the prototype design submitted by firearms inventors), firearms with interesting provenance, and international firearms with gorgeous embellishments.  The collection includes a Smith and Wesson Lever Action Patent Model and a Colt Patent.

The Smith and Wesson Lever Action Patent Model was the first lever action prototype firearm designed by Smith and Wesson.  Smith and Wesson’s original company, The Volcanic Repeating Arms Co. was actually named after the nickname for the pistol, the Volcanic pistol. However, this patent did not bring them financial success and they sold the rights to a shirt manufacturer named Oliver Winchester. Winchester would go on to use this patent; his lever action rifles becoming synonymous with the American West.

Revolver, patent model.  Colt Paterson Revolver.  AF*251084.  Image provided by Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Revolver, patent model. Colt Paterson Revolver. AF*251084. Image provided by Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

The Colt Patent is connected to Samuel Colt, another name famous in the American West, particularly for revolvers.  Colt’s revolver is the first successful percussion firearm ever patented.  The design from this model would go on to be the production type Colt Paterson.  As noted by Ashley Hlebinsky,Firearms Curatorial Resident, “You pretty much cannot see a Western film without seeing a variation of a Colt Revolver and a Winchester Lever Action.”

Hlebinsky would like visitors “to not only see some amazing firearms and representations of engineering ingenuity, but to understand the people who made the firearms and who owned and used them.”  She hopes that the “artifacts are able to convey a story about the people involved in the process – from the trial and error methods of the patent process (some patent models were never produced, while others became infamous) to the experiences of those who owned the guns.”

Is the Smithsonian in your neighborhood? Find out which other Affiliates are participating in #MuseumDayLive on September 28, 2013, here.

 

“Train” your eyes on adventure at the B&O Railroad Museum

Special thanks to Monica Reardon, Smithsonian Affiliations summer intern, for authoring the 2013 Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day Live! blog series.

The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum is located where the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad came into being during the late 1820s, in Baltimore, Maryland.  The collection grew from a late 19th century trade show exhibit of railroad artifacts.  An actual museum came about in 1953, when the B&O Transportation Museum and its collection were designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior.  The B&O Railroad Museum has been a Smithsonian Affiliate since 1999.  It has on loan a variety of Smithsonian artifacts relating to the history of American railroad.

One of the many Smithsonian artifacts on view at the B&O during Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day Live! is the Pioneer, an 1851 locomotive.  The locomotive had once pulled passenger trains, had been used for two Civil war raids, and had been displayed at World’s Fairs and Expositions as an “operating relic.”  It had even been on view at the Smithsonian from 1963-2001.  The B&O teamed up with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to restore the Pioneer to its 1901 appearance.  B&O was able to accommodate the project in its own restoration facility.  The locomotive is a rarity because its type was not used by very many U.S. railroads, and because of its age for a preserved locomotive.

Is the Smithsonian in your neighborhood? Find out which other Affiliates are participating in #MuseumDayLive on September 28, 2013, here.

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