The Smithsonian names a new Secretary

Secretary-elect Clough  On Saturday, the Regents of the Smithsonian voted unanimously for the 12th Secretary, Dr. G. Wayne Clough. (pronounced cluff)  With a PhD in civil engineering, Clough comes to SI from his post as president of Georgia Tech University.  While there, he has increased enrollment and research expenditures dramatically, overseen the expansion of campuses all over the world, and led two major capital campaigns.  Georgia Tech is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 10 public research universities.  Read more of his bio in this press release.

This experience will relate well to the breadth and complexity of the Smithsonian, as Clough mentioned in his press conference following the announcement.

Clough will start at the Smithsonian on July 1.  We so look forward to introducing him to Affiliates!


butterfly  Smithsonian staff are all aflutter (pun intended) about the new Butterfly Pavilion at the National Museum of Natural History.  We’re really excited about sharing this amazing new space with Affiliates this summer at the conference.  

Officially titled “Butterflies and Plants: Partners in Evolution,” the accompanying exhibition on co-evolution paves the way for the lush tropical experience that is the pavilion itself.  Museum staff provide a handy pictorial guide to the butterflies inside, and it’s very easy for visitors to get up close and personal… often, a butterfly will land on a shoulder or hand!  More importantly, visitors can see the interrelationship between the insects and plants, observing butterflies’ & their long tongues (proboscis) sucking out nectar or juice from the pieces of fruit available, before going on to pollinate other plants.     

The butterflies arrive in Washington in their cocoons (sorry, chrysalides) from farms around the world, and are displayed in a case inside the pavilion.  Watching them emerge is another cool part of the experience, as is the inspection all visitors go through upon leaving, to make sure no “hitchhikers” leave the space.  It’s sure to be a not-to-be-missed Washington experience, so sign up now!  or, click here for more pics.  Enjoy! 

Interior of pavilion    Closeup    Blue butterfly       



Here’s a cool new announcement –

Click  The Smithsonian Photography Initiative is launching CLICK! PHOTOGRAPHY CHANGES EVERYTHING, an interdisciplinary, Web-based forum at

Using images drawn from the extraordinary collections of Smithsonian photography, CLICK! reminds us about the power of photography to change all aspects of our world. This new site will be publicly announced on March 14, 2008 – be one of the first to view it now!

Even better, during the first phase of CLICK! the Smithsonian Photography Initiative and guest curator Marvin Heiferman will invite as many as 100 contributors from both in and outside the Smithsonian to muse on the ways in which photography has changed the history, progress and practice of our experience. Their early contributions will serve as a springboard for the second phase, which launches in fall 2008 and will include interactive options for public participation. 

How is this useful to Affiliates? 

Like the library system at the Smithsonian, photographic collections are sprinkled throughout various units.  The Photography Initiative’s sites help to consolidate the images themselves for easier searching, and then point you to exactly the right person to ask about borrowing the image, or obtaining a reproduction.  The sites may also inspire you to think about the ways you share your photography collections and encourage visitor participation.

btw – that’s a Kodak Snapshot of Woman In Blue Dress By Car, 1959, in the American History’s collection.  Click on it to see a bigger version – I promise it’s worth it.

Women’s History Month

It’s March, and spring is finally upon us.  And so is Women’s History Month.  You go girl!


Heritage Months are a big deal at the Smithsonian, and now, the offices devoted to national outreach are getting into the game as well.  For each of the five months celebrated by the Smithsonian (Hispanic Heritage, Native American, Black & Women’s History, and Asian Pacific American), the offices of Smithsonian Affiliations, Associates, Education and SITES are publishing lists of germane heritage month events around the country.

Where can you find these listings?  Smithsonian Magazine is a great source – check out what they did for the ‘Around the Country’ section of their Black History Month celebration.  This site will be updated each heritage month with the appropriate affiliates, SITES shows, and programming.  SITES also does their own highlight of heritage months in their ‘What’s New’ section.  Finally, SI Education has a website devoted to heritage month programming at the Smithsonian, and we’re working to incorporate national events here too.

What does this mean for you, as an Affiliate?  If you have particular events, programs, or exhibitions that you would like highlighted during a heritage month, please email them to your coordinator for inclusion in the listing.  Our office compiles information about Affiliate activity approximately two weeks prior to the start of a heritage month for all appropriate contacts, so let us hear from you!  We’ll be sending submissions for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by March 14.

A visit from the Pequots

Mashantucket Pequot Museum   One of my favorite parts about this job is when Affiliates come to DC to visit, either bringing their members, their boards or staff.  Why?  We get to connect with Affiliates and their goals in very tangible ways.  AND, it usually means we get to meet new people and see cool stuff!  

Last week, we got a visit from a group of staff of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum in Connecticut.  The Museum received an IMLS planning grant to prepare for a major overhaul of their permanent exhibition galleries, and were here to consult with staff of the American Indian Museum about working with Native communities to share their stories.  We had some *great* chats, about building trust, sharing ownership, visitor vulnerability (there’s one to wrap your mind around) – all kinds of juicy museology-esque topics that have such important bearing on a successful museum visit. 

We also got a glimpse into the Pequot collections in the American Indian Museum’s wonderful storage facility.  Lots of interesting baskets, beadwork, bows and arrows.  Check out this one – !

 Pequot basket


Report from the Road: Huntsville, Alabama

as reported by Caroline Mah, coordinator for the southeast:

Happy 50th Anniversary!

Saturn V     Davidson Center

Not only does January 31, 2008 mark the 50th Anniversary of America in space, but it also celebrates the U.S. Space and Rocket Center’s (Hunstviille, AL) official opening of their new Davidson Center for Space Exploration, home to the recently-restored Saturn V rocket.  This spectacular $22 million facility was named after Julian and Dorothy Davidson, who contributed $2 million. When you first enter the building, you have to walk up a flight of stairs to actually enter the space that holds the Saturn V rocket. Once you enter the space, it’s difficult to describe the enormity of the rocket.  After many failed attempts at getting a shot of the whole rocket, I just settled for the best angle I could find. Harold Closter and I had the great honor of attending U.S. Space and Rocket Center’s VIP reception, which was attended by some 1400 guests. Just the massive size and space of the building seemed to drown out the sounds of conversation amongst the 1400 guests. With everyone gathered under one roof (68,200 sq. ft) and under one rocket, which stands ten feet above the ground, the highlights of the evening began with a gala dinner, an awards ceremony, and grand opening of the imposing Davidson Center for Space Exploration.The speakers themselves were awe-inspiring, mostly ranging from retired astronauts Buzz Aldrin, second man to step on the moon; Jim Lovell, Apollo 13 Commander; John Hendricks, CEO of the Discovery Channel; and Konrad Dannenberg, believed to be the eldest of the surviving members of the von Braun rocket Team.   Walter Kronkite, legendary CBS journalist and receipient of the Center’s  Lifetime Achievement Award along with Konrad Dannenberg, sent a speech which closed by declaring, “[Hunstville] is and always will be; the Rocket City. And that’s the way it is, Thursday, January 31, 2008. Fifty years to the hour [that America entered space]. This is Walter Cronkite. Good night.”
Spaceflight engineers
Former spaceflight engineers toast the 50th anniversary of Sputnik at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration in Huntsville, Ala. Left to right: Von Braun team engineer Konrad Dannenburg, author and former NASA engineer Homer Hickam, former Marshall Space Flight Center director Bill Lucas, Von Braun team engineer Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger and Davidson Technologies founder Dr. Julian Davidson.