Affiliates in the news: March-April 2013

Each month we’re highlighting Affiliate-Smithsonian and Affiliate-Affiliate collaborations making headlines. Congrats to these Affiliates making news this month! If you have a clipping you’d like to have considered for the Affiliate blog, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee.

(Michael Johnson/Daily News)

(Michael Johnson/Daily News)

New Mexico Museum of Space History (Alamogordo, N.M.)
Apollo Capsule Lands at New Mexico Space Museum
Space history museum will become Smithsonian affiliate
New Mexico Museum of Space History First State Museum to Obtain Smithsonian Affiliation
Governor Proclaims “New Mexico Museum of Space History Day”
NMMSH now a Smithsonian affiliate; gets Apollo boilerplate 1207 

Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Let’s Learn From the Past: Apollo 8 mission 

History Colorado (Denver, Colo.)
Thomas Jefferson’s Bible Coming to Denver
History Colorado Center offers rare glimpse of Thomas Jefferson’s Bible
Thomas Jefferson’s Bible Coming to Denver’s History Colorado Center 

Agua Caliente Cultural Museum (Palm Springs, Calif.)
Film fans gather at Palm Springs annual Native FilmFest 

Littleton Museum (Littleton, Colo.)
`Ramp It Up’ offers glimpse of culture 

Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History (Kennesaw, Georgia) and the National Civil War Museum (Harrisburg, Pa.)
Southern Museum Executive Director to Speak at National Civil War Museum

Senior paper conservator Janice Stagnitto Ellis, left, and political history curator Harry Rubenstein of the Smithonian's National Museum of American History discuss Thomas Jefferson's Bible at History Colorado Center on Wednesday. (Photos by Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

Senior paper conservator Janice Stagnitto Ellis, left, and political history curator Harry Rubenstein of the Smithonian’s National Museum of American History discuss Thomas Jefferson’s Bible at History Colorado Center on Wednesday. (Photos by Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

coming up in affiliateland in April 2013

 

Kiki Smith, Banshee Pearls, 1991, 12 prints, lithograph with aluminum leaf additions on handmade Japanese paper. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Lichtenberg Family Foundation, © 1991 Kiki Smith/ ULAE

Kiki Smith, Banshee Pearls, 1991, 12 prints, lithograph with aluminum leaf additions on handmade Japanese paper. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Lichtenberg Family Foundation, © 1991 Kiki Smith/ ULAE

PUERTO RICO
Educators from the National Postal Museum lead workshops on designing educational materials for exhibitions and for different audiences at the Museo y Centro de Estudios Humanísticos in Gurabo, 4.5-6.

FLORIDA
The Naples Museum of Art opens the Multiplicity exhibition, featuring 83 works from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collections (including the one to the right!) in Naples, 4.6.

MARYLAND
Rebecca Trautmann, National Museum of the American Indian curator, will serve as a juror for the upcoming Elements in Balance exhibition at Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in Solomon, 4.8.

NORTH CAROLINA
The North Carolina Museum of History will be loaning objects to the Smithsonian American Art Museum/Renwick Gallery for the Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color exhibition, opening in Washington, D.C. on 4.12.

CALIFORNIA
Staff from the National Museum of Natural History will present workshops and lectures sponsored by the Riverside Metropolitan Museum as part of Smithsonian Week in Riverside, 4.23-25.

TEXAS
The City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department will announce their affiliation in Austin, 4.24.

coming up in affiliateland in february 2013

FLORIDA
The Mennello Museum of American Art opens the African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era and Beyond exhibition, with 100 artworks on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in Orlando, 2.1.

PENNSYLVANIA
The Heinz History Center opens 1968: The Year that Rocked America exhibition which contains three artifacts on loan from the National Air and Space Museum, in Pittsburgh, 2.2.

CALIFORNIA
The Sonoma County Museum opens SITES’ Mail Call exhibition in Santa Rosa, 2.10.

The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum opens its Native FilmFest with National Museum of the American Indian guest programmer Elizabeth Weatherford in Palm Springs, 2.27.

OHIO & PENNSYLVANIA
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the Heinz History Center will take part in the National Youth Summit on Abolition, in partnership with the National Museum of American History, in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, 2.11.

What I did on my summer vacation – American history through her Ships

This summer I had an opportunity to experience American history from an interesting perspective – on the water.  My travels took me to three Affiliates whose ships – actual, life-size, working ships – punctuate important moments in our history.   The Mayflower II, the USS Constitution, and the Charles W. Morgan all illustrate the crucial contributions of “sailors” (of all types) to our nation’s success.  

“Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, [we] fell upon [our] knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought [us] over the vast and furious ocean.”   Especially today, a visitor to the Mayflower II can still deeply appreciate these words by the Plymouth colony’s first governor, William Bradford.  The magnitude of this bravery is inspiring to imagine.    

On one of the upper decks of the Mayflower II, in Plymouth harbor.

The Mayflower II is a faithful reproduction of the original, historic ship that brought the Pilgrims to the coast of Massachusetts in November 1620 (and was given to the United States by the British in 1957).  Exploring the decks of the ship and its cramped quarters, it’s easy to imagine the fears and anxieties of its 102 passengers, including 3 pregnant women, who lived there for over ten weeks.  Also on board were all the food, clothing, furniture, tools and other items they would need to start a life in a foreign land.

The travails of such a voyage and the biographies of its passengers are fascinating.  But the interpreters’ discussion of the Mayflower Compact is equally inspirational.  After the tumultuous voyage and a protracted start to finding an anchoring spot on Cape Cod, the community on board collectively decided to delay disembarking until they had a self-governing treaty in place.  That act, and their subsequent diplomacy with the indigenous Wampanoag, reveal the very early beginnings of what American democracy would look like, both in its best and worst incarnations. 

Plimoth Plantation, Smithsonian Affiliate, does a great job of telling both sides of this story in all of its sites – from the ship to the Wampanoag Homesite and the English Village.  What I quickly realized is that the Pilgrim story is much more complex than the one we celebrate at Thanksgiving, and well worth delving in deeper to appreciate. 

“Huzzah! her sides are made of iron!”  Up north in Boston, I toured the USS Constitution.  Most know her by her nickname, Old Ironsides, based on this exclamation by one of her sailors.  The ship sits in the Charlestown Navy Yard next door to Smithsonian Affiliate, the USS Constitution Museum.

I learned that it was George Washington himself who commissioned the building of the USS Constitution  in the Naval Armament Act of 1794.  And today, the USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship in the world; it’s still an active duty vessel in the U.S. Navy. 

Ready to go onboard the USS Constitution, in Boston’s Charlestown Navy Yard

Most importantly, she is undefeated.  The USS Constitution fought in several wars, most famously in the War of 1812.  That war, often called the Second War of Independence, definitively established the power and resolve of our new nation.  The celebrated victories of the USS Constitution incarnated that resolve.  She is most famous for her victory over the HMS Guerriere in July 1812, when the British ship’s 18-pound iron cannonballs, shot at close range, “bounced” off her sides.  (Her hull is not, in fact, made of iron, but of oak.)  The battle was over in 35 minutes. 

Touring the ship is amazing, but it’s in the museum where the story gets really unpacked.  Here, you come to understand what life was like on the ship – how much sailors were paid, what they ate and wore.  You can even try out how they slept, on hammocks only inches apart from one another.  Being there this summer as the museum commemorates the 200th anniversary of that fateful victory was especially moving, another reminder of the bravery and sacrifice of our military that solidified the foundation of our nation.

“The story of the American whaling industry… is a rousing chapter in American history…emblematic of a vastly larger story.”  So Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough describes the iconic Charles W. Morgan ship, docked at Smithsonian Affiliate Mystic Seaport in southern Connecticut.

The Morgan is the crown jewel of the Seaport’s collection, America’s last surviving wooden whaleship, and a designated National Historic Landmark since 1966.  Built in 1841, she made 37 voyages in her 80 years of service, surviving countless hazards of the sea such as ocean storms, Arctic ice, and even, a cannibal attack.

But why is a whaleship so important to American history?  Before kerosene and petroleum were discovered later in the 19th century, whale oil (and other byproducts) were  the primary commodity used for illumination and lubrication.  Think about that – American lighthouses, lamps, candles, street lights, and industry machines were all powered by whale oil, and kept our economy moving forward.  As Herman Melville said in the great whaling novel Moby Dick, it was considered “as rare as the milk of queens.” 

Checking out the Morgan’s blubber room.

Her effect on our economy is not the only important story.  The Morgan literally sailed all over the world, and attracted an incredibly diverse global crew who eventually became U.S. citizens.  The ship is the last surviving reminder of a major international economic force, but also, a living piece of history that tells great stories of adventure, hardship and immigration. 

All three of these amazing ships still sail.  All three have been, or will be, on the water again – the Mayflower II at its 50th anniversary in 2007, the USS Constitution this summer to commemorate its 200th anniversary victory, and next summer, the Morgan will embark on her 38th voyage to the New England ports she visited decades ago.

So here’s to the ships, their passengers and crews, that so bravely shaped our history.  Huzzah!

 

affiliations staff on the road

Affiliations staff will be attending regional museum association conferences all over the country this fall.  Will we see you there?  Let us know!

*Save the date* – we’ll be hosting another Affiliate reception at the AAM Annual Meeting this year in Baltimore, May 2013.  Stay tuned for details!

 

Western Museums Association, Palm Springs, CA, October 21-24, 2012
Look for External Affairs Coordinator Elizabeth Bugbee .

 

 

 

Southeastern Museums Association, Williamsburg, VA, November 7-9, 2012
National Outreach Managers Alma Douglas, Aaron Glavas, and Caroline Mah will be in attendance, and leading a session on ‘Smithsonian as Partners in your Community’ on Wednesday, November 7. 

 

 

 
New England Museum Association, Burlington, VT, November 7-9, 2012
National Outreach Manager Jennifer Brundage  will be there leading sessions on ‘Theater and Dance: Tools for Community Engagement and Collaboration,’ on Wednesday, November 7; and ‘Executive Transitions – Learning from Each Other,’ on Thursday, November 8.

We look forward to seeing Affiliates this fall!

invention invention everywhere!

Since Smithsonian Affiliations started collaborating with the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History, we’ve learned a lot about Places of Invention.  (See this blog to learn more about our collaboration.) 

Affiliate staff and their community partners, on the roof of the National Museum of American History during the kickoff workshop for Places of Invention

Affiliates have joined the action too.  On June 15, Affiliate staff and their community partners joined a day-long workshop to kickoff their individual research projects around their own communities and what makes them so innovative.  (Read more about the kickoff workshop on the Lemelson Center’s blog, Bright Ideas.)

Now, we are all much more attuned to what makes a place of invention – be it exceptional natural resources, the right mixture of people and skills, or an inspiring location… or something else.  Invention was readily on view during a recent trip to western Massachusetts, and we suspect, can be documented in many other communities as well.

Join the quest for invention and share your stories with us!