“lets do history” with Oklahoma History Center

Special thanks to Sarah Dumas, Director of Education at the Oklahoma History Center, for this guest post.

ok_hist_1On February 11 educators from the Oklahoma History Center (OHC) were invited by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to participate in its Let’s Do History Tour in Norman, Oklahoma. OHC Education Department staff provided a one-hour presentation about various programs offered by the Oklahoma History Center. The presentation included a detailed discussion of our traveling trunk program, with an opportunity for several unique learning experiences. Teachers explored and interacted with four different trunks. They also participated in two hands-on activities facilitated by our staff.

The first activity required teachers to investigate history by analyzing an artifact, and the second activity was to assemble a pioneer family and pack their wagon for a trip to Oklahoma Territory. It was certainly a fun afternoon for us, and it seemed the teachers enjoyed themselves as well. Perhaps the best part of the afternoon was when we returned to the museum and checked our email. Waiting in our inboxes were dozens of email requests for use of OHC resources, including the traveling trunks. In fact, of the fifty teachers who attended the workshop, almost half already made plans to participate in one of our programs or utilize our resources.

What a wonderful end to an exciting day with some fantastic teachers and the great folks at the National Museum of American History.

Interested in participating in a Let’s Do History Tour? Contact your National Outreach Manager for more information.

The Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference is October 17-20, 2016. Join us in Washington, D.C.! 

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way to go Affiliates! kudos for March 2016

Congrats to these Affiliates on their recent accomplishments.

FUNDING

Pennsylvania’s Northampton County Council awarded more than $480,000 in grants raised from hotel room taxes to a variety of organizations, including the National Canal Museum, Historic Bethlehem Museums and Sites, and the National Museum of Industrial History to promote tourism, historical sites and cultural events in the region.

The state of Connecticut has announced that Mystic Seaport will receive $2 million in state funding to assist with the construction of a new exhibition building. The $11.5 million Thompson Exhibition Building will house a state-of-the-art 5,000-square-foot gallery that will allow it to attract traveling exhibits and display more of its own collection.

South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC), in partnership with the town of Framingham, Framingham State

Sam Black, President of the Association of African American Museums and curator at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.

Sam Black, President of the Association of African American Museums and curator at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.

University and several other local organizations, received $125,000 to create a microlending program and a resource center for low and moderate-income residents looking to open their own business.

The Museum of Work and Culture, part of the Rhode Island Historical Society in Woonsocket, was among recipients of State Preservation Grants announced recently, and received $20,000.

RECOGNITION

Sam Black, curator at the Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, PA) was profiled in Pittsburgh Magazine as one of the most noted contemporary scholars of African American history.
You Should Know: Samuel W. Black

STAFF CHANGES

Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner, the new director of the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City.

Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner, the new director of the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City.

The American Jazz Museum‘s (Kansas City, MO) new director, Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner, is eager to collaborate.

 

 

what’s up in Affiliateland in March 2016

CONNECTICUT
Roger Connor, Curator at the National Air and Space Museum, will present a talk on “By the Stars to Victory: Making Aerial Celestial Navigation Practical Between the World Wars” as part of the Stars of the Smithsonian lecture series at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, 3.3.

PENNSYLVANIA
The traveling exhibition Toys of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s opens at the Heinz History Center with two artifact loans from the National Museum of American History – a toy computer from 1965 and a vintage Mr. Potato Head, in Pittsburgh, 3.4.

NATIONWIDE
Over 40 Affiliates nationwide will take place in the special edition of Museum Day Live!, offering free admission and special programming on 3.12.

Carla Dove, Program Manager at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology

Carla Dove, Program Manager at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology

NORTH CAROLINA
Carla Dove, forensic ornithologist at the National Museum of Natural History, will explain to visitors her job in identifying what types of birds collide with airplanes, and how that helps to make aviation a safer industry at the Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte, 3.12.

NEW MEXICO
Jeffrey Post, Curator at the National Museum of Natural History, will present a talk on the American gemstone jewelry collection at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque, 3.15.

IDAHO
The Idaho Museum of Natural History opens SITES Titanoboa: Monster Snake exhibition in Pocatello, 3.19.

Briana Pobiner of the National Museum of Natural History holds a hominid skull.

Briana Pobiner of the National Museum of Natural History holds a hominid skull.

MASSACHUSETTS
Dr. Briana Pobiner, educator at the National Museum of Natural History, will present a talk on “Ancient Appetites: What Our Ancestors Really Ate and How We Know” at Framingham State University in Framingham, 3.21.

Affiliates in the news: March edition

Congrats to these Affiliates making news!  If you have a clipping that highlights a collaboration with the Smithsonian or with a fellow Affiliate, or a clipping that demonstrates leadership in education, innovation, and arts/culture/history/science you’d like to have considered for the Affiliate blog, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee.

A Boa constrictor skull is scaled up to the same size as Titanoboa and compared to a human skeleton using 3-D tech in the IVL. Render courtesy of Jesse Pruitt.

A Boa constrictor skull is scaled up to the same size as Titanoboa and compared to a human skeleton using 3-D tech in the IVL. Render courtesy of Jesse Pruitt.

Idaho Museum of Natural History (Pocatello, ID)
Idaho Museum of Natural History uses 3-D technology to bring Titanoboa monster snake to life
“Having the opportunity for something I made to go along with something the Smithsonian created is personally very cool,” Schlader said. “Not to mention the fact that the University of Florida made the scans of the fossil available so we can print it and actually hold a copy of a piece of this snake is just amazing.”

The Museum of Flight (Seattle, WA) and Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor (Ford Island, HI)
12 Museums for the Aviation Enthusiast

Hagley Museum and Library (Wilmington, DE)
Hagley Now Has World’s Largest Private Collection of Patent Models
The Rothschild Patent Model Collection of 4,101 one-of-a-kind models — going alphabetically from an adjustable pillow sham to a wrestling toy — builds upon 849 patent models already at Hagley and the early innovations and patents from the DuPont Company.

Space Center Houston (Houston, TX)
Space Center Houston Drives Greater Houston Economy With More Jobs
“The museum plays a vital role in the region by bringing tourism dollars and stimulating the workforce,” said the center’s President and CEO Richard E. Allen Jr. “Globally, it is inspiring creativity and innovation in people from all over the world. With our hands-on educational programs, we’re exciting young minds and inspiring them to think about a possible future career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Photo courtesy Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum.

Photo courtesy Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum.

Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum (Miami, FL)
Remember ‘Pac-Man’? Museum exhibit has fun with classic video games
Video games have scored their way into one South Florida art museum. Atari, PlayStation and other home systems are the main players of “The Art of Video Games” exhibit at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum Florida International University in Miami.

‘Art of Video Games’ on exhibit now at the Frost Art Museum
One take-away Rodriguez hopes students visiting the exhibit will go home with is that the museum is a fun, exciting place that asks a question: what is the role of art in your life?

FROST ART MUSEUM PRESENTS THE ULTIMATE MAN-CAVE EXPERIENCE: “THE ART OF VIDEO GAMES” EXHIBITION
On March 16, 2012, “The Art of Video Games” opened at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. The exhibition is Melissinos’ homage to the world of Marios and Sonics. For the past three years, “The Art of Video Games” has been on a cross-country adventure visiting various museums. The final stop of the tour is Miami’s Frost Art Museum.

The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU opens “The Art of Video Games”
The Art of Video Games is one of the first major exhibitions to explore the 40-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, with a focus on striking graphics, creative storytelling and player interactivity.

Smithsonian’s Video Game Exhibit Opens in Miami
Organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the exhibit and revolves around the 40-year evolution of video games, and their art expression.

The Art of Video Games” National Tour’s Final Stop in Miami
By teaming up with Florida International University’s Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum for The Art of Video Games exhibition as Presenting Sponsors, we have another great opportunity to be active in the community that is at the heart of Alienware,” said Frank Azor, General Manager of Alienware. “It was almost 20 years ago that Alienware started in Miami and even though we’ve evolved to a global community of gamers it’s great to have this incredible exhibit conclude in the South Florida community that’s been so instrumental in our success.”

A view of Above and Beyond, the new exhibit at the Saint Louis Science Center. Photo by Oscar Williams.

A view of Above and Beyond, the new exhibit at the Saint Louis Science Center. Photo by Oscar Williams.

Saint Louis Science Center (Saint Louis, MO)
Saint Louis Science Center unveils new exhibit
 “Above and Beyond” is produced by Evergreen Exhibitions in association with Boeing, in collaboration with NASA and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and in educational collaboration with The Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Antique Automobile Club of America (Hershey, PA)
Pioneers in African American Automotive History at the AACA Museum
While learning the history, visitors can take the opportunity to assemble their own paper traffic signals, patented by Garrett Morgan, courtesy of the Western Reserve Historical Society.

Challenger Space Center Arizona (Peoria)
Challenger disaster: 30 years later
Inspired by and named for the lost shuttle, the Challenger Space Center in Peoria opened in July 2000. Affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution and the Challenger Learning Centers, it was the first stand-alone facility not only in Arizona, but in the entire Southwest.

 

visiting Affiliate artifacts… in Washington

In Affiliations, we like to say that our partnerships are two-way streets. We learn as much from our Affiliates as we share. Our Affiliate partners lend ideas, energy and expertise not only to the Smithsonian, but to each other. They also lend artifacts, and often, the very best, rare ones they have in their collections.

Recently, I took an afternoon out of the office to visit the handful of loans currently on view from our Affiliate partners to the Smithsonian. What better pleasure to run in to our Affiliate friends across the country than by discovering pieces from their collections here in Washington?!

A case featuring inductees to the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

A case featuring inductees to the National Inventors Hall of Fame

My first stop on this walkabout was the National Museum of American History and its newly-opened innovation wing. The Inventing in America exhibition features a case that honors inductees to the National Inventors Hall of Fame, our Affiliate in Canton, OH. Visitors can marvel at a selection of inventions made by some of the 500 men and women who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and learn about inventions such as the first intravascular stent from 1984, 3M sticky notes, the first digital camera from 1975, and the 1976 Apple computer.

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Descriptions of the inventions of Hall of Fame inductees

Notably, the case explains the invention of Kevlar, the high strength fabric (used for example, in bullet-proof vests) invented by Stephanie Kwolek in 1965 while she worked at DuPont. Luckily, our Delaware Affiliate, the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, has an extensive collection of material about Kevlar (including Kwolek’s papers) and lent two artifacts from their collection to bring her story to life.

I wandered over to the National Portrait Gallery to see its Dark Fields of the Republic: Alexander Gardner Photographs, 1859-1872 exhibition. At one time, Gardner worked for the famous photographer Matthew Brady before casting out as an influential documentarian in his own right. The profound Civil War-era images on view in these galleries are haunting still. Among them are important works from three Smithsonian Affiliates.

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Field of Antietam photo book on loan from the National Civil War Museum

The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA lent a photographic book titled the Field of Antietam from 1962. Before photomechanical reproduction, books like this one were made by printing each of the original photographs by hand, adhering them to mounts, and binding them as a book. Knowing this process makes the book feel all that more special.

Our Affiliate in Indianapolis, the Indiana Historical Society lent chilling images of the executions of the Lincoln assassination conspirators. Notably, Alexander Gardner was the only photographer allowed to document the hangings, and his position on the wall of the prison grants a panoramic view that is searing and unforgettable.

Sketchbook of the War, on loan from the Western Reserve Historical Society

Gardner’s Photographic Sketchbook of the War, on loan from the Western Reserve Historical Society

Finally, the Western Reserve Historical Society, our Affiliate in Cleveland, OH also lent several works to the exhibition, including what feels like an incongruous view of a picnic in the woods. Alas, one discovers its main subject is Walt Whitman, who lived in Washington, D.C. for part of the war, writing letters for injured soldiers. It’s an unsettling yet bucolic image among the battlefields represented on the walls around it. Another impressive loan is Gardner’s Photographic Sketchbook of the War in two volumes. This large-scale folio published in 1866 features 100 images from Gardner’s vast collection that successfully distill the chronological narrative of the war in a meaningful and emotional way.

Finally, I ended my excursion at the Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian. This retrospective – her first major one – traces the artistic journey of WalkingStick, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Emerging from the art world of New York in the 1960-70s, the show traces her 40+ year career from early figurative work through her famous diptychs to recent paintings of monumental landscapes with symbolic references to their Native links.

Three Affiliates are represented in this exhibition as well. One of our newest, The Rockwell Museum in Corning, NY lent a diptych, Letting Go/From Chaos to Calm from 1990. These rich paintings of mixed dry media on sculptmetal juxtapose the figurative and abstract, the visual and visceral in stimulating and thought-provoking ways.

Visitors can leaf through a touchable version of WalkingStick's artist book, on loan from the Heard Museum.

Visitors can leaf through a touchable version of WalkingStick’s artist book, on loan from the Heard Museum

The Heard Museum in Phoenix, AZ (where the show will travel after Washington) lent two works. One canvas, Cardinal Points from 1983-85, uses acrylic paint and saporified wax to achieve a textured and active surface that rewards prolonged study. Her artist book on loan from the Heard contrasts depictions of herself with the kinds of stereotypical comments about her identity that continue to plague Native people. (Flip through the book here.)

Finally, the Denver Art Museum lent a commanding diptych of a different style, Farewell to the Smokies from 2007. This oil painting on wood blends two views of a majestic mountain landscape, with silhouettes of figures walking across their base. It’s a powerful reminder of Native history, and at the same time, of the indelible legacy of Native peoples on the American landscape.

Thank you Affiliates, for all the ways that you enrich the Smithsonian!

Farewell to the Farewell to the Smokies, 2007. Oil on wood panel, 36 x 72 x 1 in. Denver Art Museum: William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen Collection, 2008.14. Photo courtesy of the Denver Art Museum

Farewell to the Smokies, 2007. Oil on wood panel, 36 x 72 x 1 in. Denver Art Museum: William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen Collection, 2008.14. Photo courtesy of the Denver Art Museum

 

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Road Report: Smithsonian Dazzles in New Mexico

The beauty of the “Land of Enchantment” began gradually as the plane started its relatively smooth descent over the Sandia Mountains into Albuquerque, home of two Smithsonian Affiliates and the nature of my visit. As I drove to my first destination of the day-National Museum of Nuclear Science & History-I understood why the Sandia Mountains got its name as the reddish hue of the coming sunset came into view. (Sandia means watermelon.)

I arrived at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History to find Museum Director, Jim Walther, and Deputy Director, Greg Shuman, working tirelessly painting an exhibition space for the upcoming show “Art of the Reactor.” Jim extended me enough time to show some new collection additions, including a Delorean, which fit nicely in the “Pop Culture” gallery and explained how he has spent the past few days fielding media inquiries regarding the “hydrogen bomb” and its potential repercussions.

Chris highlights the Apollo Capsule (NASM) and details the story behind the lettering on the capsule.

Chris highlights the Apollo Capsule (NASM) and details the story behind the lettering on the capsule.

Friday, I woke up early to begin my three hour drive through southwestern New Mexico to Alamogordo, site of the New Mexico Museum of Space History and home to over 30 artifacts from the National Air and Space Museum (NASM). I found Chris Orwoll, Division Director, at the Museum Support Center, appraising a huge collection donation from California. Chris showed me the lunar rover from NASM and explained the details for the restoration project, scheduled to be completed in 2017. Chris took me to the main museum complex, located in the foothills of the Lincoln National Forest and provides a magnificent view of the Tularosa Basin, home of Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range. Chris highlights the Apollo Capsule (NASM) and details the story behind the lettering on the capsule.

The culmination of my visit ended with a series of events at one of our newest Affiliates-New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science for the opening of the “Post Diamond Tiara” exhibit. A year in the making, the Post Diamond Tiara, on loan from the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), was unveiled by new Executive Director, Margaret (Margie) Marino to the “oohs” and “aahs” of the excited crowd of volunteers, donors and general public. The events were capped with the formal presentation of Certificate of Affiliation. The Post Diamond Tiara excitement will continue on March 15, when NMNH curator, Jeffery Post, will present a lecture on this and other artifacts of the NMNH gem collection.

My flight home allowed me to reflect on my stay in New Mexico and as with so many other trips, I understood and appreciated all the hard work, energy and enthusiasm the Affiliate staff members put into maintaining and showcasing their partnership with the Smithsonian. The reward was seen on the faces of the visitors seeing a thousand glistening diamonds for the first time and an appreciative smile came across my face.

So if you find yourself in New Mexico or any of the other 44 states where Affiliates reside, I encourage you to stop in and put a smile on your face.