Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage wants your stories

Special thanks for this guest post to Angelica Aboulhosn, Public Affairs Specialist with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage invites partners, artists, and others from across the Smithsonian Affiliations network to showcase their work on the new CFCH digital magazine, Folklife. In doing so, contributors can spotlight their work, as well as the work of those individuals and communities they interpret or champion, to a combined audience of over one million viewers.

2011 Heritage Fellows

Photo credit: Roy (left) and PJ Hirabayashi, 2011 NEA National Heritage Fellows. Photo by Tom Pich, National Endowment for the Arts

The website, which launched last month, tells unforgettable stories of music, food, crafts, and culture that help us explore where we have come from and where we are going. Folklife showcases stories of place, history, language and cultural identity as well as the complex lives of individuals and communities—all with focus on the animating questions at the center of contemporary life, such as: How and when do we come together at a time when so much history and so many issues pull us apart? The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage encompasses the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, and a series of cultural sustainability and research projects that together promote greater understanding and sustainability of cultural heritage across the United States and around the world.

Folklife features include short- and long-form pieces, which range in length from 500 to 1,500 words. Short-form work tends to personal, essay-style pieces, while our longer-form features explores a single issue in depth, often drawing connections between media of various kinds. Folklife also features photo and video essays, in case that better aligns with your work. Ours is an educated, culturally attuned audience looking for authentic, first-person perspectives rather than academic pieces. For the time being, all contributions are unpaid, but if your piece is accepted, it will be posted to the Folklife site and cross-promoted on our web and social media channels.

Turquoise Mountain calligrapher

Over half of Turquoise Mountain’s calligraphy and jewelry students are women, as the organization is committed to provided them with a sustainable source of income. Photo courtesy of Turquoise Mountain

Featured work can include a link to relevant museum websites, online exhibitions, and more. That said, these pieces are distinct from press releases in that they focus squarely on artists, communities, and the stories they have to tell, rather than on the details of one exhibition or another, thereby extending the life of the piece online.

We encourage you to reach out to Charlie Weber (WeberC@si.edu) on our editorial team with any new story ideas. For more information, see the examples below.

Long-form example: Radio Jarochelo: Connecting Communities
Short-form example: On Ink, Tradition, and the Handwritten Word: Learning Chinese Calligraphy

February in Affiliateland

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

Kitchen Table in Julia Child's kitchen

The kitchen table, sink, and some of the countertop equipment in Julia’s kitchen at the Smithsonian

North Carolina
National Museum of American History Curator, Paula Johnson, travels to the North Carolina Museum of History for a public program about Julia Child’s kitchen, in Raleigh, 2.2.

South Carolina
Staff from Smithsonian Affiliations and the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation celebrate the opening of Spark!Lab at the Children’s Museum of the Upstate, in Greenville, 2.4

Illinois
Affiliations Director Harold Closter will be on hand to announce the Smithsonian’s new affiliation with the Schingoethe Center of Aurora University, in Aurora, 2.7.

Texas
Smithsonian Science Education Center Director Carol O’Donnell talks about the current state of STEM education at Space Center Houston, in Houston, 2.9.

Nebraska
The Durham Museum opens Searching for the Seventies: The Documerica Photography Project, a SITES exhibition, in Omaha, 2.18

Michelle Wilkinson portrait

Photo by Jati Lindsay

New York
The Rockwell Museum presents its Smithsonian Speakers Series featuring Michelle Wilkinson, curator at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Corning, 2.21.

Washington, D.C.
Students from nine Smithsonian Affiliate communities will host public programs at the National Air and Space Museum as part of the Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos National Youth Summit, in Washington, D.C., 2.22-23.

Special screenings of the original Smithsonian Channel program, The Obama Years: The Power of Words, will take place at multiple Affiliates in February during Black History Month, some with Smithsonian National Museum of American History Curator of Political History Claire Jerry:

At the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, in Baltimore, 2.9.
At History Colorado, in Denver, 2.13.
At the African American Museum in Philadelphia, in Philadelphia, 2.15.
At the Museum of History and Industry, in Seattle, 2.22.
At the Senator John Heinz History Center, in Pittsburgh, 2.23.
At the Western Reserve Historical Society, in Cleveland, 2.24.

Last Chance at Affiliates:

Things Come apart

Things Come Apart exhibition at Upcountry History Museum

South Carolina
Things Come Apart, a SITES exhibit, closes on 2.19 at the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville.

North Carolina
Greensboro Historical Museum closes I want the Wide American Earth, also a SITES exhibit, on 2.26, in Greensboro.

 

 

 

Here’s what’s happening in your neighborhood in time for Smithsonian Museum Day

In the spirit of the Smithsonian Museums, which offer free admission every day, Museum Day Live! is an annual event hosted by Smithsonian magazine in which participating museums across the country open their doors to anyone presenting a Museum Day Live! ticket… for free.

We’ve compiled a list of exhibitions by region so you can see what is happening at Smithsonian Affiliates during Museum Day. Download your ticket today!

Click here to view the complete list of Smithsonian Affiliates participating this year.

Southeast

Tampa Bay History Center (Tampa, Florida)

Florida’s Got the Blues
Augustine at 450: A Look at the Oldest European Settlement in the U.S.

Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History (Kennesaw, Georgia)

Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited

US Space and Rocket Center (Huntsville, Alabama)

Science Fiction, Science Future


Upcountry History Museum – Furman University (Greenville, South Carolina)

The Forgotten War: Korea 1950-1953

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Orange County Regional History Center (Orlando, Florida)

Long Way to the Top: Hard Rock in Orlando, 1972-1985

100 Historic Orlando Icons

The Museum of Arts and Sciences (Daytona Beach, Florida)

Septembers with the Smithsonian

Faces from the Past: Portraits from the MOAS Collection

John James Audubon: Prints from the MOAS Collection

Contemporary Paintings from the MOAS Collection

Midwest

beach

“Awkward Family Photos” at Peoria Riverfront Museum.

Peoria Riverfront Museum (Peoria, Illinois)

Awkward Family Photos: The Exhibition

Science Rocks! 2015

Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, Michigan)

Ten: The Exhibition

 

 

Mid-Atlantic

Museum of American Finance (New York, New York)

Legal Tender

America in Circulation

Long Island Museum (Stony Brook, New York)

Gilding the Coasts:  Art and Design of Long Island’s Great Estate Era

Beth Levine:  First Lady of Shoes

Young Island:  William Sidney Mount’s Scenes of Childhood

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture (Baltimore, MD)

Businessman First: Remembering Henry G. Parks, Jr.

Antique Automobile Club of America Museum (Hershey, Pennsylvania)

station_wagon_JimButler

“A Family Affair: Station Wagons” at AACA.

A Family Affair:  Station Wagons

Motorbikes for the Masses

Back to the Future 30th Anniversary Tribute Car

1932 REO Royale

Cammack Tucker Collection (The World’s Largest Collection of Tucker Automobiles)

Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts at Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)

Steampunk

Mountain-Plains

UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio, Texas)

Sikhs: Legacy of the Punjab

Our Part of Victory: Texas in World War II

Denver Art Museum (Denver, Colorado)

Fritz Scholder (1937-2005); "Indian and Contemporary Chair;" oil on linen; 1970; Smithsonian American Art Msueum, Gift of Judge and mrs. Oliver Seth. On view at the Denver Art museum.

Fritz Scholder (1937-2005); “Indian and Contemporary Chair;” oil on linen; 1970; Smithsonian American Art Msueum, Gift of Judge and mrs. Oliver Seth. On view at the Denver Art museum.

Super Indian: Fritz Scholder, 1967-1980

The Durham Museum (Omaha, Nebraska)

Omaha – Shizuoka: 50 Years of Friendship, 1965-2015

This May Hurt a Bit: Medicine in Old Omaha

Station to Station: KETV and the Burlington

Union Station: Built to Last

Montana Historical Society (Helena, Montana)

Our Forgotten Pioneers: The Chinese in Montana

Eloquence in Wood: The Art of John L. Clarke

New England

Pleiades Star Cluster Simone, 7th Grade, Indian Township School. Part of Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos at the Abbe Museum.

Pleiades Star Cluster
Simone, 7th Grade, Indian Township School. Part of Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos at the Abbe Museum.

Norwich University’s Sullivan Museum & History Center (Northfield, Vermont)

Women of Norwich: Trailblazers and Torchbearers

Abbe Museum (Bar Harbor, Maine)

Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos exhibition 

Coming Home

2015 Waponahki Student Art Show

Four Directions of Wabanaki Basketry

Layers of Time: Archaeology at the Abbe Museum

West

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture (Seattle, Washington)

Titanoboa: Monster Snake 

The Anchorage Museum (Anchorage, Alaska)

Polar Night: Life and Light in the Dead of Night

"Home Field Advantage" at the Anchorage Museum.

“Home Field Advantage” at the Anchorage Museum.

City Limits

Florian Schulz: To the Arctic

Home Field Advantage: Baseball in the Far North

Vox Van

 

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.