Happy Retirement, Rosemary Phillips: You’ve been a great friend to Affiliates!

Rosemary goofing around with the Affiliations staff at NMAH.

Since 2000, Rosemary Phillips has been a program manager at the National Museum of American History (NMAH), handling a myriad of requests from Smithsonian Affiliates, from moving a Civil War-era locomotive, to the loan of over 50 firearms, to championing a performance of early American music and much more. Throughout her decades-long association with Affiliates, Rosemary has displayed the friendliness, commitment, diplomacy, and genuine care for Affiliates that has made the relationship between the Affiliations Program and the National Museum of American History one of the most successful collaborations at the Smithsonian. After 42 years, Rosemary retired on January 3, 2020.

Rosemary started her career at the Smithsonian as a graduate intern at the National Collection of Fine Arts (which has since become the Smithsonian American Art Museum). She started at the National Museum of History and Technology (now the National Museum of American History) in collection management services. She made significant contributions to NMAH’s culture over the years, including leading a staff development committee, helping to create the Museum’s peer recognition awards and Museum-wide cross training program, and creating an annual Girl Scout Day which brought an average of 500 girls and troop leaders to the Museum each year.

After joining the Affiliations Program at NMAH, Rosemary has been essential in realizing some of the biggest accomplishments in the Affiliate network. Here are a few notable ones:

Rosemary with colleagues at the opening of the National Museum of Industrial History.

– When the Durham Museum (Omaha, NE) became an Affiliate in 2002, Rosemary was instrumental in securing a significant number of artifact loans, a collaboration that took over two years. She did the same when the National Museum of American Jewish History (Philadelphia, PA) opened in their new building in 2010.

– Rosemary spearheaded the collaboration with the National Museum of Industrial History, the Smithsonian’s first Affiliate, that opened to the public in 2016 with over 100 artifact loans from NMAH.

Rosemary with former Affiliations Director Harold Closter and his wife at the grand opening of the National Museum of American Jewish History

– She championed the collaboration between Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA) and NMAH’s Religion initiative, which led to a weekend of events featuring a performance of Native and English music traditions, Waking the Ancestors: Recovering the Lost Sacred Sounds of Colonial America. 

There are countless more examples which demonstrate Rosemary’s persistence, good cheer, and dedication to being of service to Affiliates, in ways that brought the Smithsonian to their communities – and Affiliate expertise to the Smithsonian – in meaningful and impactful ways. If you have an anecdote to share about your relationship with Rosemary, please post it below in comments! 

Rosemary helps a curator from a New York Affiliate evaluate Mamie Eisenhower’s purse for loan.

Rosemary with the staff of the Heinz History Center and NMAH in Pittsburgh.

Rosemary (in blue) watches over first-person Pilgrim interpreters leading visitors in traditional songs at NMAH.

Rosemary with a delicious thank you from an Affiliate in Hershey, PA.

A Plant from the Americas that Conquered the World

Special thanks to the Biomuseo, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Panama, for this guest post. 

When Christopher Columbus sailed in search of a new route to Asia, he never, in his wildest dreams, imagined that he was going to run into a totally new world. The Venetian was so disoriented that the first time he tasted a chili (Capsicum) on the island of Hispaniola, he thought he had found the fruit from which Indians got the prized pepper; hence the name chili peppers. This is how the great adventure of chili peppers’ culinary conquest began.

In 1494 the “pepper” arrived in Europe, where it was first received as an exotic plant used to decorate gardens, until some monks in Portugal discovered that it was a cheap, tasty and spicy pepper replacement. Thus the Portuguese explorers became the main allies of chili peppers’ conquests.

The domestication of the chili began in what is today Mexico, long before the arrival of the Spaniards, some 6000 years ago. According to a report from a team of researchers from the University of California, Davis, it was a regional domestication that extended from southern Puebla and northern Oaxaca to southeastern Veracruz. During this process of domestication, humans unconsciously selected the seeds of the plants that gave the best fruits, and little by little the five different original American varieties came to be. Today, this plant is one of the most sought-after ingredients in the world’s cuisine.

But Mexico was not the only place where this plant was domesticated. The inhabitants of what is today Bolivia and Peru and regions of the Amazon, used other varieties of Capsicum in their food. Virtually no prehispanic culture could conceive of their diet without spice.

This year, the Biomuseo, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Panama, celebrated the American roots of the fruits of the Capsicum plants, and their gastronomical importance throughout the world. Our exhibition, PICANTE, presented the unusual chemistry of this fruit, explaining the reason for its particular spiciness. It narrated the epic adventure of the five species of domesticated peppers in America that traveled across the oceans and changed the world: Capsicum annum, Capsicum chinense, Capsicum frutescens, Capsicum baccatum and Capsicum pubescens.

While the exhibition ends in December 2019, the history and traditions of the Capsicum plant will live on through seeds of different peppers and recipes of dishes around the world that include them.

New Year Kudos Affiliates!! January 2020

Congratulations to these Affiliates on their recent accomplishments to begin 2020! Do you have kudos to share? Please send potential entries to Aaron Glavas, GlavasC@si.edu.

FUNDING

The Bath Community Fund (BCF) of Akron Community Foundation (ACF) recently awarded $26,250 to 12 nonprofits serving the township including a $4,500 grant to Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, OH) to create an orientation space inside the new Gatehouse Welcome Center at Hale Farm & Village. The interpretive space will educate visitors about the history of the Hale family farm and its journey of becoming a living history museum.

The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium (Dubuque, IA) are the recipients of two grants. Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust awarded the museum $250,000 to support its River of Innovation exhibit. The exhibit will feature a 19th-century machine-belt shop theme and will have interactive attractions for guests and add STEM-based learning into its growing educational programs. Alliant Energy also awarded the museum $5,000 for a new otter pup exhibit and press on the importance of watershed ecosystems.

The Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo announced the winners of grant funding totaling $28,000 including $1,100 to the Air Zoo (Portage, MI) to support participation in the 2020 International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo.

The Iowa West Foundation Board of Directors recently approved $4.7 million in grants and initiatives funding to 18 nonprofit organization and government entities in southwest Iowa and eastern Nebraska including the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum (Ashland, NE) The museum will receive $17,000 to develop and enhance after school STEM enrichment programs.

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

HistoryMiami Museum (Miami, FL) announced that Michele Reese Granger, marketing director at the museum, is one of this year’s PRNEWS Top Women in PR Awards winners, a recognition for her accomplishment of increasing attendance at the museum by 40 percent between 2017 and 2019.

ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services) announced renowned scholar, respected author and passionate activist, Dr. Anan Ameri, as the recipient of its 2020 Arab American of the Year award. Dr. Ameri is the founding director of the Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, MI).

The Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) has been recognized with a major award for its work in bringing together a team of women to provide technical support at SC, a leading super computing conference. The initiative won the “Readers’ Choice: Workforce Diversity Leadership Award” in the annual HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice Awards. WINS is a collaboration among the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (Boulder, CO), the Department of Energy’s Energy Sciences Network, and the Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research. Following a national competition, WINS selects women who work in IT departments at universities and national labs around the country to help build and operate SCinet, the very high capacity network at SC conferences.

Jay D. Vogt, director of the South Dakota State Historical Society (Pierre, SD), will be appointed to serve as an expert member of the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP). As an independent federal agency, the ACHP works with federal agencies to promote historic preservation and oversees the historic preservation review process. It also advises Congress and the President on historic preservation policy. The members of the ACHP provide advice and policy direction to the federal agency with the same name.

The B&O Railroad Museum (Baltimore, MD) received the 2019 Greater Baltimore Committee Business Recognition Award for the First Mile Stable project: a state-of-the-art equestrian facility and community center for the Baltimore City Mounted Police Unit. Each year the mayor of the City of Baltimore joins with the Greater Baltimore Committee and the Baltimore Development Corporation to recognize businesses that have demonstrated significant corporate leadership and service to improve the quality of life in Baltimore.

LEADERSHIP

The York County Culture & Heritage Commission has named a new executive director for its museum group. Richard Campbell, who took over Aug. 6 as acting executive director, now assumes the roll permanently and oversees the Museum of York County (Rock Hill, SC),  Main Street Children’s Museum, Historic Brattonsville and the McCelvey Center.

The American Jazz Museum (Kansas City, MO) has selected a new executive director to lead the institution. Rashida Phillips will take the helm in January. Rashida Phillips will relocate from Chicago, where she served as senior director of community ventures of the Old Town School of Folk Music, the largest community school of the arts in the United States.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Raleigh, NC) has named Eric Dorfman as its next museum director. Currently the director of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Powdermill Nature Reserve in Pittsburgh, he will join the museum in early 2020.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe recently announced its appointment of Joe Baker as the new Executive Director of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center (Mashantucket, CT).  Baker comes to Mashantucket from the Palos Verdes Art Center in Rancho Palos Verdes, California where he has served as Executive Director for the last six years.

2020 Invent It Challenge

Credit: Cricket Media, Inc.

The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation and Cricket Media have partnered for the past nine years to bring the Spark!Lab Invent It Challenge to students across the globe. The challenge is a free, STEM-focused contest open to students ages 5-18 that inspires them to solve real-world global issues through creativity and exploration. Smithsonian Affiliates are invited to share this opportunity with their visitors and incorporate it into Affiliate programming!

Here are some easy ways to promote the Challenge to your visitors or use in your own programming:
  • Use this flyer to spread the word about the 2020 Invent It Challenge to your visitors, school groups, and teachers.
  • Post this image across your social media outlets to inform your audience of the wonderful opportunity the Challenge presents for students to use their creativity and knowledge of science to make a positive impact on the world around them.
  • Introduce students to the 7-Step Invention Process using this introduction video and challenge them to think of how it can be applied to help create a solution to a wide variety of local, regional, or global issues.
  • Set up a whiteboard and have students play this interactive game from Smithsonian called “Pick Your Plate” to stimulate conversation around healthy food and how people across the globe might access it.
  • Show this inspirational video for possible ways to help solve the global issue of accessing healthy food and hold a question and answer session with students to get them thinking about what they could invent to address this issue.
Want to learn more about how the 2020 Invent It Challenge aligns with your programming, and what resources are available to you to promote it? Join our webinar on January 22nd, 2020, from 2-3 pm (EST)! Featured presenters include:
  • Sharon Klotz, Head of Invention Education at the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation
  • Laura Woodside, Senior Vice President of Education Products at Cricket Media, Inc.
  • Patricia Genovese, Teacher of Past Winners from California

RSVP for the webinar!

About the Invent It Challenge
Each year, the Lemelson Center and Cricket Media develop a theme related to an important global issue. By choosing themes that address significant global issues, the Invent It Challenge allows students to realize they can make an important difference in their world by applying their skills, knowledge, and creativity to come up with solutions to the challenges people around the world face daily. The 2020 theme focuses on what students can invent to help improve people’s access to healthy food. The fact that approximately 25% of the world’s 7.8 billion people struggle to access safe, nutritious food illustrates the importance and global nature of this issue.

Credit: Cricket Media, Inc.

To submit an entry, students have to follow the Lemelson Center’s 7-Step Invention Process and document their progress through each step in a PowerPoint or video. To help them get started, students should review the Entry Guide, which includes everything they’ll need:

  • A list of Topics and Resources to help them generate ideas,
  • an Inventor’s Notebook to help them keep track of their progress through the seven steps,
  • and a Rubric to help them self-assess.
When students are ready, they can use this PowerPoint template to document their journey, or they can create their own presentations or videos. Judges at the Lemelson Center and Cricket Media evaluate each entry according to how deeply students engage with each step and how well they document their journey. In addition to great prizes from Faber Castell, Cricket Media, and others, students can win a multi-day trip to Washington, D.C. where their inventions get permanently displayed at the Spark!Lab! Entries are due by 11:59 pm (EST) on April 10, 2020.

Questions before the webinar? Email affiliates@si.edu.

Credit: Cricket Media, Inc.

Coming Up in Affiliateland in January 2020

Happy new year all! We look forward to a collaborative and engaging 2020.

NORTH CAROLINA
The North Carolina Museum of History will screen the Smithsonian Channel film Civil War 360: Fight for Freedom in Raleigh, 1.8.

MASSACHUSETTS

View of the new Spark!Lab maker space for youth at the Springfield Museums in Massachusetts

The new Spark!Lab at the Springfield Museums, a dynamic learning space for families to explore invention and innovation.

The Springfield Museums open a new Spark!Lab Smithsonian, followed by a lecture on Springfield as a Place of Invention by Eric Hintz, historian at the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History, in Springfield, 1.17.

IOWA
The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium will screen several Smithsonian Channel films including Epic Yellowstone: Down the River Wild, Aerial America: Wilderness and more, in Dubuque, 1.18-20.

OKLAHOMA
The Oklahoma History Center will screen Smithsonian Channel films Drinks, Crime and Prohibition-Gangsters and G-Men and Drinks, Crime, and Prohibition-Flappers and Bootleggers, in Oklahoma City, 1.18.

 

Wiki + Affiliates Part II: Wikimedia Commons and Image Releases

Following up on our successful call in October, we’re hosting a second webinar on Monday, December 16 at 3 pm Eastern focusing on another aspect of Wikipedia. After this webinar, we’ll announce dates for our next session covering the nuts and bolts of hosting your own edit-a-thon! Need a refresher on what we discussed in Part I? Read the Wiki+Affiliates: Help Represent the Under-Represented blog post.

Wikimedia Commons is an online repository of free-use images, sounds, and other media. Files from Wikimedia Commons can be used across all Wikimedia projects in all languages, including its most popular platform, Wikipedia. Wikimedia Commons contains over 55 million free media files, managed and editable by global volunteers. The Smithsonian has been contributing images to Wikimedia Commons for almost a decade. You can view some of the images and media files on the Smithsonian Commons page.

During this presentation we will build on the initial Wikimedia conversation from October with the Smithsonian’s Open Knowledge Coordinator, Kelly Doyle. She will highlight the ways in which Wikimedia Commons functions in the information landscape and how GLAM organizations (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) use and interact with this platform. We will discuss the nuances of image copyright, releasing, and practical implementation guidance. A walk-through of image tagging, search functions, and tracking image metrics over time will be presented.