Affiliations at AAM 2018

Myriam Springuel

Meet Myriam Springuel, Smithsonian Affiliations Interim Director and SITES Director on Monday and Tuesday during the AAM Meeting. Photo by Dane Penland. [Apollo DestinationMoon-2-22-2017-0223] [NASM2017-00421]

Are you headed to the American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting in Phoenix? Three Smithsonian Affiliations team members will be attending and have organized several opportunities to meet with Affiliates.

On Monday, May 7, brainstorm possible programs and events with the Smithsonian and fellow Affiliates around the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing in 2019. We’ll also talk about how we can work together to promote and leverage one another’s programming. 3:00 – 4:00 pm in the Curtis Room, 2nd Floor, Hyatt Regency Phoenix.

On Tuesday, May 8, meet the team at the SITES booth in the MuseumExpo! Interim Affiliations Director, Myriam Springuel; Interim Associate Director, Tricia Edwards; and National Outreach Manager, Laura Hansen, will be at the booth for an informal meet and greet. 3:00 – 5:00 pm, Booth 2814, MuseumExpo.

Throughout the meeting, look for Laura Hansen, National Outreach Manager. Laura works with Affiliate partners in the west and can answer any questions about the benefits of a Smithsonian Affiliation. Want to meet with her? Email her for availability- HansenL@si.edu.

Affiliates are featured in many AAM sessions.  We’ve compiled a list below of sessions in which Smithsonian Affiliates are presenting or moderating. Stop in and say hello, or stick around for the entire session. Don’t forget to mention us in any social media posts – we’re @SIAffiliates on Twitter and @smithsonianaffiliates on Instagram. Have a great time in Phoenix!

If you don’t see your session listed, please let us know.

Sunday, May 6 

1:00 – 2:15 PM
Room 226ABC
Beyond the Four Walls: Effectively Assessing Museum Programs in School Classrooms
Featuring the Museum of the African Diaspora (San Francisco, California) and the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor (Honolulu, Hawaii)

Room 125 AB
Case Study: Live-Tweeting a Century-Old Race Riot: Sharing Difficult History through Social Media
Featuring the Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

tricia edwards

Meet Tricia Edwards, Smithsonian Affiliations Interim Associate Director, on Monday and Tuesday too.

Room 128 AB
Education Collections: Connect with Me, and I Care
Featuring Conner Prairie (Fishers, Indiana) and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (Denver, Colorado)

2:30 – 3:45 PM
Room 225AB
A Tale of Three Buildings: The Things You Need to Know before You Start Your Renovation 
Featuring the Heard Museum (Phoenix, Arizona)

Room 129 AB
Leaders in Education Leading Museums
Featuring the Springfield Museum of Art (Springfield, Ohio)

Room 231ABC
Stop, Experiment, and Listen: A Fresh Approach to Creative Problem Solving 
Featuring the National Civil Rights Museum (Memphis, Tennessee)

Find Laura Hansen, Smithsonian Affiliations National Outreach Manager, throughout the entire AAM Meeting. Email her to set up a meeting- HansenL@si.edu

Room 229AB
Who’s the Boss? Examining the Relationship Between Exhibition Contractors and Staff
Featuring the National World War II Museum (New Orleans, Louisiana)

4:00 – 5:15 PM
Room 227 ABC
Engaging the Arctic: Working with Northern Communities to Tell Their Stories
Featuring the Anchorage Museum (Anchorage, Alaska)

Monday, May 7

8:45 – 10:00 AM
Room 131 ABC
Decolonizing the Museum: Reflection, Vision, and Change
Featuring the Abbe Museum (Bar Harbor, Maine)

Room 126 ABC
Equity at the Heart of Professional Learning
Featuring the Ohio History Connection (Columbus, Ohio)

Room 121 BC
From Leadership to Impact: Taking Risks, Redefining Success, and Finding Your Voice
Featuring the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, Alabama)

1:45 – 3:00 PM
Room 221 ABC
Straight to the Source: Connect and Engage with Teens in Your Community
Featuring the Bakken Museum (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Room 222 ABC
Museum Compensation: Best Practices in Design for Sustainability
Featuring the Anchorage Museum (Anchorage, Alaska)

Room 225 AB
(Non)Profiteering: Mission Versus Margin
Featuring The Museum of Flight (Seattle, Washington)

Room 229 AB
The Role of the Community Engagement Curator
Featuring the Heard Museum (Phoenix, Arizona)

Tuesday, May 8

8:45 – 10:00 AM
Room 228 AB
75 Ideas in 75 Minutes – Accessibility Edition
Featuring the John G. Shedd Aquarium (Chicago, Illinois)

Room 129 AB
Are Museums the Right Home for Confederate Monuments?
Featuring the North Carolina Museum of History (Raleigh, North Carolina)

Room 227 ABC
Breaking Free: Two Years of Curating Our Communities
Featuring the Cincinnati Museum Center (Cincinnati, Ohio)

Room 226 ABC
A Dialogue with IMLS Reviewers: Tips and Techniques from the Experts
Featuring the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (Seattle, Washington)

Room 229 AB
Making Space for (Other) Voices: Challenging Perceptions
Featuring the Arizona State Museum (Tucson, Arizona)

1:30 – 2:45 PM
Room 222 ABC
Membership on Center Stage to Deliver Financial Impact and Transform Museum Cultures
Featuring Space Center Houston (Houston, Texas)

Room 121 ABC
Case Study: Collections Inventories in Support of Object-Based Learning Programs
Featuring the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor (Honolulu, Hawaii)

Room 122 AB
Case Study: The National World War II Museum Reimagines Its Digital Presence
Featuring The National World War II Museum (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Room 122 AB
Case Study: Social Humanity Immersed in Technology: The Art of Modern Communication
Featuring the Anchorage Museum (Anchorage, Alaska)

Wednesday, May 9

10:15 – 11:30 AM

Room 231 ABC
10 Practical Actions to Museum Accessibility
Featuring the Saint Louis Science Center (St. Louis, Missouri)

Room 128 AB
A Change in Elevation: Museums Rising to the Challenge of Equity
Featuring the Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, Michigan)

Room 229 AB
Measuring Visitor Motivation, Expectations, and Satisfaction
Featuring the Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Room 129 AB
Museums and Race Report Card: Looking Back to Move Forward
Featuring the San Diego Museum of Man (San Diego, California)

Room 125 AB
Project Management: It’s Not Just for Breakfast Anymore
Featuring The Museum of Flight (Seattle, Washington)

11:45 AM – 1:00 PM

Room 124 AB
Inspiring Latinx Community Engagement through a Traveling Exhibition Mentorship
Featuring the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (Austin, Texas)

Room 125 AB
Inclusionary Museums: Paths to Elevation in Descendant Communities
Featuring the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Seminole Tribe of Florida (Clewiston, Florida)

Room 231 ABC
Teaching Teachers: Using Evaluation to Develop Effective Professional Development
Featuring Mystic Seaport Museum (Mystic, Connecticut)

Room 131 ABC
(Not as) Easy as 1,2,3: The ABCs of Collections Moves
Featuring The National World War II Museum (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Room 128 AB
Not for Sale: Preserving a Community Collection
Featuring the Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, California)

Coming up in affiliateland: June 2016

Texas
The SITES exhibition Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964 opens at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, part of the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, 6.4.

South Dakota
“Smithsonian Saturday” moves to Sunday for this online program at the South Dakota State Historical Society. The rebroadcast will feature the life of Hank Aaron, originally broadcast by the Smithsonian Channel, 6.5.

Roy Lichtenstein, Sweet Dreams, Baby!, from the portfolio, 11 Pop Artists, Volume III, 1965, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Philip Morris Incorporated, copyright Estate of Roy Lichtenstein.

Roy Lichtenstein, Sweet Dreams, Baby!, from the portfolio, 11 Pop Artists, Volume III, 1965, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Philip Morris Incorporated, copyright Estate of Roy Lichtenstein.

Florida
A selection of 37 prints from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s permanent collection are included in the Pop Art Prints exhibition at the Mennello Museum of American Art, opening 6.10.

South Carolina
The National Museum of Natural History loaned a meteorite to the Museum of York County to be included in its exhibition Dinosaur Revolution Maze, on view beginning 6.11.

Idaho
Last chance to see Titanoboa: Monster Snake at the Idaho Museum of Natural History, through 6.12.

New York
The Smithsonian Associates presents a New York City tour featuring the Museum of American Finance and its exhibition Worth Its Weight: Gold from the Ground Up, which includes artifacts from the Smithsonian and three Smithsonian Affiliates, 6.17.

Ellen Feingold, curator at the National Museum of American History, brings her expertise to the Museum of American Finance for a lecture on The Value of Money, 6.23.

North Carolina
The Schiele Museum of Natural History will partner with its local YMCA to host middle school students for the third installment of the astrophotography program, Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, 6.20.

Maryland
Under Secretary, Richard Kurin, joins Smithsonian Affiliations Director, Harold Closter, to announce the new affiliation of Historic Annapolis. Dr. Kurin will also speak about the Hope Diamond following the affiliation announcement ceremony, 6.22.

Connecticut
Mystic Seaport concludes its Stars of the Smithsonian series with The Art of Oceanic Navigation and Land Finding lecture featuring Douglas Herman, Senior Geographer at the National Museum of the American Indian, 6.23.

Illinois
Harold Closter will visit the DuSable Museum of African American History, to announce its new affiliation with the Smithsonian, 6.25.

Beautiful Users is organized by the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

Beautiful Users is organized by the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

Georgia
Beautiful Users, a traveling exhibit from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, features nearly 100 objects that illustrate the evolution of “user-centered design,” at the Museum of Design Atlanta, 6.26.

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).

Katharine Hepburn at The Durham Museum

Special thanks for this guest post to Amy Henderson, National Portrait Gallery’s historian emerita. Amy is a cultural historian specializing in “the lively arts”—particularly media-generated celebrity culture. Her books and exhibitions run the gamut from the pioneers in early broadcasting to Elvis Presley, Katharine Hepburn and Katharine Graham.

In the late 1980s, I met writer-director Garson Kanin at a Washington dinner party, and he set the stage for one of my happiest adventures as a cultural historian at the National Portrait Gallery. When I discovered that Garson, who wrote and directed all of the Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy movies, lived next door to Herself in New York, I whined until he promised to give me her address. My excuse? The Portrait Gallery needed a fine portrait of the iconic actress!

Garson’s introduction worked, and I got to know Miss Hepburn in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. I would have coffee and cookies with her when I traveled to New York, and we always went on an exploration of all the portraits she kept in her townhouse; there were a lot, since she had known artists her entire life.

She mentioned “all the costumes” on the upper floor, but I never got a glimpse. Now, thanks to the Durham Museum in Omaha, the costumes are on full view. “Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen” is drawn from the Kent State Museum’s Hepburn Costume Collection, and features more than 35 costumes worn in 21 films and 6 stage productions—and some of her private life clothes.

image001

Mick Hale, Director of Education at the Durham, heard that I had curated a 2007 Portrait Gallery exhibition celebrating Hepburn’s centennial, and invited me to speak about her life in conjunction with the Durham’s costume show. I eagerly accepted, and spoke at this Smithsonian Affiliate in April. Talking about her life, I focused mainly on Hepburn’s remarkable ability to fashion her own image, even in the heyday of the Hollywood studio system when studios configured their stars to reflect their own particular movie “brand.”  E.g., Warner Bros. had a “Murderers’ Row” of gangsters, while MGM boasted “all the stars in the heavens.”

The Durham has been a Smithsonian Affiliate since 2002, and Mick Hale estimates that they have hosted 25 or so traveling exhibitions such as the Hepburn costumes. Other recent speakers have included Mike Neufeld from the National Air and Space Museum, who spoke about the Apollo 8 mission during the Durham’s “1968” exhibition; and Smithsonian Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture, Richard Kurin, who shared his stories about 101 Smithsonian artifacts last Fall when the Durham hosted the Franklin Institute’s traveling exhibit “Identity: An Exhibition of You.”

image002

My visit was enormous fun. First, the museum itself is lodged in what had been a stunning Art Deco train station that opened in 1931; lofty ceilings and a sense of bustle create an instantly uplifting “wow” museum experience. Second, for me it was great to see the costumes Hepburn wore during her long stage and screen career. Her waist was TINY—20”—and it was fascinating to see costumes from such landmark performances as the Broadway version of the Philadelphia Story. I also lingered over the section that spotlighted her impeccably tailored tan slacks, of which she had dozens.

My visit came at the end of Mick Hale’s tenure as education director at the Durham. After ten years, he is heading toward new challenges, directing a leadership initiative in Lincoln. But his dynamic partnership with the Smithsonian will remain firmly rooted at the Durham. “The museum and I are very proud of what we have done with the Smithsonian,” he told me, “and I know the quality work and collaboration will continue for a long time.”

image003All photos courtesy of the Durham Museum.

It’s Not About the Conference: Museums and the Web 2015

The first rule of the Museums and the Web conference—it’s not about the conference. The second rule—meet somebody. What better way start to a conference dedicated to sharing ideas about digital experiences in museums than reinforcing the idea to just get together and share!

The #MW2015 conference kicks off at the Palmer House in Chicago.

The #MW2015 conference kicks off at the Palmer House in Chicago.

I had the opportunity to attend the #MW2015 Conference in Chicago this year representing team Smithsonian Affiliations. As a “first timer” we were given ten guidelines for getting the most out of the meeting. The top five were:

5. Explore
4. Session hop
3. Check out the exhibit hall
2. Meet a new friend
1. Remember- it’s not about the conference!

We all know attending conferences is all about the networking. But here, bouncing ideas off of people is an even bigger priority. It’s even encouraged to skip a session if you are deep in conversation and learning something new. Skip a session? Outrageous, right?!! Not here. The power of collaboration and sharing ideas is key to the experience. Web developers, content managers, museum educators and museum curators all coming together to puzzle out this question of integrating digital into the museum experience. This would be an epic blog if I listed all of the amazing things I took away from the conference, so I’ll just provide some highlights. Bottom line- If you are interested at all in increasing content and engagement online and in person, and you’re interested in meeting some really cool people, this is a really incredible meeting.

My favorite takeaways:

  • place“Place” remains a key part of identity creation and community building within digital culture. Location is not place. Museums positioning themselves in the center of supporting communities are creating a greater sense of place. Connecting audiences with place values creates more engaged communities. From Beyond the Building: Creating and Supporting Communities Based on Place
  • Cultural organizations in change are fertile spaces for critical shifts in their digital work. When considering change: Don’t be afraid to lose some things for the better of the organization. The most interesting digital storytellers will likely NOT be in your digital team. There needs to be a clear project manager—the person who “owns” the project cannot “run” the project because they are too invested. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. Include ALL departments and have conversations about important changes. From Organising for Change and Change in Organisations
  • Digital is beyond the digital department—it is really in every aspect of our business. We need to become more nimble and efficient in how we deliver our services and digital can help us do that. If we don’t embrace it, we will be in danger of losing income, falling behind competitors, losing appeal and missing opportunities. From How to be a Digital Leader and Advocate: The Changing Role of the Digital Department

All-in-all it was an amazing experience. I look forward to using some of these ideas and inspiring change in my organization. Were you at #MW2015? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

That's me in the background experiencing a wind vortex at the Museum of Science and Industry. Can't all be serious business, right?!

That’s me in the background experiencing a wind vortex at the Museum of Science and Industry. Can’t all be serious business, right?!

Playing in New England

#FindingNEMA - the Boston Terrier mascot for the conference.

#FindingNEMA – the adorable Boston Terrier mascot for the conference.

The New England Museum Association conference is one of my favorite events of the year.  It always takes place in November – when the air is crisp and Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  What could be a better time to visit New England?

This year’s conference took place in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was the biggest to date with about 1100 participants.  Even with that number, the conference feels intimate, and I was so delighted to run into so many Affiliate colleagues during the week.  The theme of this year’s conference was Health and Wellness – so appropriate as museums play such a critical role in the health of their communities.

The keynote panel set the tone for the week.  The panel brought together three local museum directors and two physicians, an interesting mashup that revealed all the ways that museums heal people and communities.  They talked about museums being among the most trusted community resources, and places of respite and beauty, which is why people tend to flock to cultural institutions in times of crisis.  The doctors for example, discussed the importance of careful looking when making a diagnosis – a skill they teach in part by taking students to museums.  What a great discussion.

Looking through a 19th century telescope at SAO.

A colleague from the Abbe Museum looks through “the Great Refractor” telescope at SAO.

IMG_4661

Looking directly at the Sun.. or live images of it anyway, at SAO.

A few Affiliate colleagues and I got an opportunity to hang out at an amazing research center near the hotel, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory [SAO].  There, a Smithsonian educator showed us the Great Refractor, built in 1847 and once the largest telescope in the United States.  We all got the chance to try out the unique seat designed for looking through the telescope, an elegant 19th century solution.  From the old to the new, we then visited SAO’s state-of-the art control room for studying the Sun, and “saw” it at several different temperature iterations in close to real time.  It was beautiful and flaring in a way we’d never seen before.

Conference attendees also had the great fortune to visit the USS Constitution Museum for an evening reception.  The Museum, an Affiliate since 2011, is a trailblazer in terms of research into family learning. They have already published the Family Learning Forum website  based on research and testing on engaging exhibition techniques.  The Museum is now turning its attention to programming with the same vigor, and funds from an IMLS National Leadership Grant.  One

Which role would you play?  Learning the importance of teamwork at the USS Constitution Museum.

Which role would you play? Learning the importance of teamwork at the USS Constitution Museum.

of the activities under testing asks visitors to be part of a 4-person team required to fire cannons from the USS Constitution ship, a much more difficult process than I imagined.  With a blue tarp as the ocean and a print of an enemy ship on the other side, my team fired an “alka seltzer cannon” and learned about the teamwork required to be successful in those conditions.  The Museum staff is refining a body of knowledge about family learning and best practices that will ultimately and undoubtedly benefit the entire museum field.

On the last day of the conference, I was honored to speak in a session with colleagues from our other New England Affiliates, Mystic Seaport and Plimoth Plantation.  Titled, It CAN be all Fun and Games, we looked at Affiliate examples of incorporating games and physical activity into museum interpretation.  The best part was that the directors of interpretation and education from Mystic and Plimoth brought actual games that they play on their 17th and 19th century living history sites, like skittles, Wampanoag football, stoolball, stilts, hoop games, harpoon throwing, marbles and even stilts.  I was a little anxious that audience members might not want to “play” on the last day of the conference.. but I was wrong.  It reminded me of an important lesson – adults also want to play and have fun like kids do.  Give them an opportunity – at a conference or at a museum – and they will literally run with it.

This game from 17th century Plimoth is harder than it seems!

This game from 17th century Plimoth is harder than it seems!

I attended so many useful sessions and heard so many great ideas.  Here’s a quick roundup of the highlights:

•    Think socially responsible or responsive programming might introduce mission creep at your museum?  But what if your mission wandered into a place that made you more relevant to your community?

•    Think it’s hard to engage millennials (ages 21-40)?  Think again.  They are visiting cultural institutions in droves, and there are about 80 million of them in America right now.  Don’t know how?  It’s easy.  Ask them.  And then empower them to create the programming they want to attend at your museum themselves.  For a great example, check out the Portland Museum of Art’s Contemporaries group.

•    Do your public spaces achieve the magic power of 10?  That is, can people find 10 things to do in your plazas, courtyards, front steps, etc.? (eat, people watch, see a performance, access wifi, meet friends, etc.)  For ideas, check out the Peabody Essex Museum.

•    Attending a conference is a great opportunity for a networking game. It’s super fun when it’s easy and for example, on your cell phone.  The one we played at NEMA had us asking questions of each other like “have you ever lived abroad?” and snapping photos for extra points.  Thanks Museum Trek.

Given the breadth, depth and richness of the conversations I attended last week, it’s abundantly clear that the museum community in New England is very healthy, and helping to make their communities amazing places to live.  A big thanks to the small but mighty staff at the New England Museum Association for bringing us together and expertly facilitating such enriching dialogue.  And Happy Thanksgiving to all!