Five questions with Amanda Moniz, Curator of Philanthropy at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

Headshot of Amanda MonizWhat do we love more than helping you navigate the Smithsonian? Sending someone from the Smithsonian to your neighborhood! Our people are our greatest resource and when new curators join the Smithsonian family, we like to share their stories with our network. This week, I had the chance to ask a few questions of Amanda Moniz, Curator of Philanthropy at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, about her career. Read on to learn why she’s eager to share her passion with Affiliates. Interested in bringing a Smithsonian speaker to your organization? Contact your National Outreach Manager!

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got to the Smithsonian. What exactly is a curator of Philanthropy?

I’m an early American historian specializing in the history of philanthropy. My first book, From Empire to Humanity: The American Revolution and the Origins of Humanitarianism, explores how Americans and Britons rebuilt their relationships after the Revolutionary rupture through humanitarian collaboration and, in the process, transformed philanthropy.

Before I joined the staff of the Smithsonian, I worked at the National History Center of the American Historical Association. Its mission is to bring historical perspectives into public and policy conversations so that job provided great experience for this position with its emphasis on engaging the public in exploring history.

A lot of people ask what a curator of philanthropy is! My job entails collecting objects that tell stories about the history of Americans’ gifts of time, talent, and treasure for the public good; working on exhibitions; researching and writing, and sharing stories about the history of giving in other ways such as through social media.

It has been a little over a year since you began at the Smithsonian. What have you enjoyed most about working at the National Museum of American History? And what are you looking forward to?

I love hearing people’s stories about giving. Most Americans give their time or resources in some way, shape, or form. I’ve talked with visitors, colleagues, well-known philanthropists, and people who work in nonprofits, and heard amazing stories about what giving and receiving has meant in their lives and their families’ lives. Their stories inspire me as I think about my work.

I’m really excited about building the philanthropy collection. A lot of people are initially surprised at the idea of exploring the history of giving through objects. I think the collection has the potential to open new perspectives on the role of philanthropy on the forming and re-forming of our nation.

So far, what is the most amazing artifact you’ve come across and why? What story does it tell?

I recently acquired a basically unknown portrait of Eliza Hamilton, the widow of Alexander Hamilton. She and other women founded a charity known as the Orphan Asylum Society of the City of New York in 1806 when women in the United States were new to organized benevolence. (The organization is still in existence and now known as Graham Windham. The painting was generously donated by Graham Windham.) The portrait was painted in the mid-1800s and shows her as an older woman. Her resolute look and direct gaze are captivating. I also love the portrait because it helps us tell the story of the emergence and development of women’s philanthropy.

How does one collect philanthropy?

The history of philanthropy is the story of people mobilizing resources (of time, talent, and treasure) to support causes and institutions in hopes of having an impact. I’m looking for artifacts that help us understand the various dimensions of those developments from a range of perspectives.

The first object I collected was a nest box used in bluebird conservation. Nest boxes provide habitats for bluebirds and have helped revive the populations of the bird, which had fallen because development had disrupted the birds’ habitats. The nest box is a great object because it helps to effect the change bluebird conservation advocates are pursuing.

You’ve mentioned that sharing is “perhaps the most fun part of a curator’s job.” We have Affiliates in 46 states, Puerto Rico, and Panama and we are always looking for ways to share Smithsonian resources with them. What would you like to share with them?

I’d love to let our Affiliates know about some of our online resources.

Later in March, we’ll be adding a section on “Giving and the Arts” to the online version of Giving in America. (“Giving and the Arts” will replace the case on environmental philanthropy in the physical exhibition on March 22.) In addition to the online exhibition, we have a website for the Smithsonian’s Philanthropy Initiative with videos, links to blog posts, and more. We also have robust social media focused on philanthropy, and I hope folks will join the conversation. I love sharing what I’m learning and am eager to learn from others!

Follow us at:

• Philanthropy Blog Posts: http://s.si.edu/PhilanthropyBlog
• Facebook: National Museum of American History
• Instagram and Twitter: @amhistorymuseum

BONUS: Read Amanda’s blog from April 2017 shortly after she joined our Smithsonian family.

Amanda Moniz is the David M. Rubenstein Curator of Philanthropy in the Division of Home and Community Life. The Philanthropy Initiative is made possible by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and David M. Rubenstein, with additional support by the Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative, a grantmaking program of Fidelity Charitable.

News from SITES

Our friends at SITES have some exciting new traveling exhibitions to share with you, and some last-minute booking opportunities for those looking for a great exhibition to fit in to your schedule.

New Exhibitions

100 Faces of War
An exploration into the meaning of service, the exhibition features 100 portraits of veterans from every state and the District of Columbia who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Accompanied by a personal, unedited statement from each sitter, the portraits are an homage to these individuals who collectively represent a cross section of those who have served.

Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill: Photographs by Jerry Dantzic
This exhibition provides a rare glimpse into the music icon’s public and private life just two years before her untimely death at the age of 44. Includes 65 framed pigment prints, panels, ephemera, and vinyl excerpts from the work of author Zadie Smith.

Woodcut by Robert Blackburn

Robert Blackburn Blue Things, 1963–1970 Woodcut 20 x 26 Wes and Missy Cochran, Cochran Collection Photograph by Karl Peterson

Robert Blackburn & Modern American Printmaking
Robert Blackburn (1920-2003) was a key artist in the development of printmaking in the twentieth century. His masterful expertise with the medium helped define the overall aesthetic of the American “graphics boom.” This exhibition examines Blackburn’s life and work, and features original prints by Blackburn and the artists with whom he collaborated, including Robert Rauschenberg, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Grace Hartigan, and Will Barnet.

Men of Change
Men of Change will present for new generations the stories of approximately 25 African American heroes—both the known and unknown– who stand as icons on the nation’s historical landscape. Features large-scale photographs, collage, video, freestanding 3-D art reproductions and more.

A New Moon Rises
Featuring large-scale, high-resolution photographs of the lunar surface taken since 2009 by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC). These striking images help answer our questions about the Moon’s formation, its continuing geological evolution, and its relationship to Earth and the solar system.

 

School girls reciting the pledge of allegiance

School girls reciting the pledge of allegiance
Dorothea Lange, Courtesy of National Archives

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II
After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the nation was overcome by shock, anger, and fear—a fear exaggerated by long-standing prejudice against Asians. In response, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which sent 75,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry and 45,000 Japanese nationals to incarceration centers. This is the powerful story of the incarceration and the people who survived it.

Last Minute Booking Opportunities at a discounted rate!

Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project
May 19 – July 29, 2018 ($3,500 for 10 weeks, plus shipping) and
August 18 – October 28, 2018 ($3,500 for 10 weeks, plus shipping)

Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Backyard
June 16 – August 26, 2018 ($2,750 for 10 weeks, plus shipping) and
September 15 – November 25, 2018 ($4,125 for 10 weeks, plus shipping)

 

A Very Young Crater

A Very Young Crater. Courtesy NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.

A New Moon Rises
February 2 – April 28, 2019 ($15,000 for 12 weeks, plus shipping)

For questions about any exhibition, please contact the SITES Scheduling Department: 202.633.3140, or sites_schedule@si.edu

Coming up in Affiliateland in February 2018

Happy new year! We may still feel cold, but events are heating up at Affiliates across the country.

NATIONWIDE
Five Affiliates will host (via videoconference) the Smithsonian Secretary’s Youth Advisory Council meeting. Thank you to the Arab American National Museum, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the Upcountry History Museum and the Rockwell Museum for sharing their students and spaces for this important dialogue happening in Washington, 2.7.

Eight Affiliates will host screenings of The Lost Tapes: Malcolm X , a new film from the Smithsonian Channel as part of their Black History Month programming. Thanks to the following Affiliates for sharing the film with your audiences!
2.1 – Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore, MD
2.6 – Museum of History & Industry in Seattle, WA
2.7 – Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, PA
2.8 – African American Museum in Philadelphia, PA
2.12 – History Colorado in Denver, CO
2.22 – California African American Museum in Los Angeles
2.23 – Mennello Museum of American Art/Orlando Museum of Art, FL
2.26 – Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, TX

CALIFORNIA
The Riverside Metropolitan Museum presents the Uncovering Ancient Mexico: The Mystery of Tlatilco exhibition, exploring an ancient society in central Mexico that flourished 3000 years ago. The exhibition features 9 artifacts from the collections of the National Museum of the American Indian and opens in Riverside, 2.3

WASHINGTON
The Whatcom Museum opens Jeweled Objects of Desire featuring over 50 artifacts on loan from the National Museum of Natural History’s gem and mineral collection in Bellingham, 2.3.

FLORIDA
The Orange County Regional History Center opens the SITES’ exhibition Things Come Apart in Orlando, 2.10.

Take it Apart! A fun contest in Orlando for the Things Come Apart exhibition.

PENNSYLVANIA
A ‘rum runner’ ship model on loan from the National Museum of American History will be on view at the Heinz History Center as part of their American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition exhibition in Pittsburgh, 2.10.

OHIO
With a grant from the Ohio Arts Council, educators from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Accessibility Program will lead three workshops for teachers in collaboration with the Springfield Museum of Art on strategies for using art to reach students with multiple disabilities, in Springfield, 2.15-16.

MARYLAND
Annmarie Garden opens Big Fun Art, an exhibition of local and national artists juried by Jennifer Brundage, Smithsonian Affiliations National Outreach Manager, that explores playfulness, dynamism and joy, in Solomons, 2.16.

ARIZONA
Dr. Richard Kurin will be speaking on and signing his book The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, 2.20.

TEXAS
The Asian American Resource Center will host a teacher workshop in collaboration with the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access entitled Teacher Creativity Studios: Asian Pacific America Cultural Presence in the Classroom in Austin, 2.21.

NEBRASKA
The Durham Museum will host a lecture by Dr. Krewasky Salter, Guest Associate Curator at the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Double Victory: The African American Military Experience in Omaha, 2.27.

 

  

Coming up in Affiliateland in September 2017

Great stuff to see as we cruise through Affiliateland in September!

GEORGIA
The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra will be part of a family festival at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, 9.8-10.

Ann Caspari, an educator at the National Air and Space Museum, will lead a science educator workshop for teachers at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, 9.14-16.

ALASKA
The Anchorage Museum will open Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline, an exhibition of the travels and fossil adventures of Alaska artist Ray Troll and paleontologist Dr. Kirk Johnson, director of the National Museum of Natural History, in Anchorage, 9.15.

VERMONT
The Sullivan Museum will host a talk by Dr. Adrienne Kaeppler, anthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History, on the Wilkes expedition and the amazing specimens from it in Northfield, 9.21.

NATIONWIDE
Over 100 Smithsonian Affiliates will open their doors free of charge to ticket holders as part of Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day Live!, 9.23.

FLORIDA
The Museum of Arts and Sciences will host a lecture by Valerie Paul of the Fort Pierce Marine Station on 9.23. The Museum will also present two concerts by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra in Daytona Beach, 9.30.

Join the Universe of Learning

Universe of Learning logo

Smithsonian Affiliations, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and funded through NASA’s Universe of Learning, is launching a new, two-year science literacy pilot program and looking for participants. Funding is available–up to $2,000 per year– for seven Affiliate organizations to use resources from the Universe of Learning site to develop programs exploring  art, history, and natural science. The goal of the pilot is to create sustainable models of innovative STEM learning for youth, families, and lifelong learners.

To participate, interested candidates must complete three of  seven professional development online webinars.* The webinars are hosted by astrophysics scientists and educators and discuss NASA’s three main questions: How does the Universe work? How did we get here? Are we alone? An accompanying online forum will further strengthen the discussion topics and address how your organization can best use the available resources to develop and share your program model.

Webinars are every two weeks on Wednesday at 2pm EST (the next one is on Sept 13th). *Two out of the seven webinars have already occurred. However, they were recorded and we encourage for your institution to partake in this great opportunity.

The application opens in November and is only available to Smithsonian Affiliates.

For any inquiries, please email Patty Arteaga at ArteagaP@si.edu.

Affiliates in the news! July edition

Congratulations to these Affiliates making headlines this month! Do you have a Smithsonian collaboration in the news? Email Elizabeth Bugbee, BugbeeE@si.edu, and submit your clipping for review. Each month we compile our newsmakers and distribute in our Affiliate eNewsletter.

Uncrating an exhibition

Rene Rodgers, curator of exhibits and publications, uncrates a Suffolk push mower that is part of the new Smithsonian exhibit called “Things Come Apart” that opens this weekend at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Photo-Earl Neikirk/BHC

Birthplace of Country Music Museum (Bristol, VA)
VIDEO- Birthplace of Country Music Museum hosting Smithsonian exhibit
“They will start looking around at some of the things that they use every day and really start to think about how they work and how theyve gotten to that point from where they started and actually just think about the way things are made,”Dr. René Rodgers, Museum Director and Head Curator for the Birthplace of Country Music Museum said.

Smithsonian exhibit opens Saturday at BCMM
“It’s one of those exhibits the Smithsonian Institution creates to travel around the country to various museums,” said René Rodgers, curator of exhibits and publications at the museum. “We are the third museum to have it. It’s just come to us from the Kansas City Public Library. The exhibit is based on the work of photographer and artist Todd McLellan. He has taken the idea of common, everyday objects to look at their functionality, their design, the change in technology, and he’s done that by taking them down to their component parts and creating artistic renditions of them.”

South Dakota State Historical Society (Pierre, SD)
Former Smithsonian director in Pierre on July 24
“As an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, we are delighted to bring Mr. Glass to South Dakota,” Jay Smith, director of the Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, stated in a release. “He brings with him a message about the value of saving, preserving and visiting historic places which is an important aspect of the mission of the South Dakota State Historical Society. We will be discussing some of our future plans with him as well, so this is an exciting opportunity for our museum.”

Tellus Science Museum (Cartersville, GA)
SMITHSONIAN’S ‘ART OF THE AIRPORT TOWER’ CAPTURES THEIR UNIQUE ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNS
In the midst of a nationwide tour, the Tellus Science Museum near Atlanta is currently hosting the exhibit until September 17. The Smithsonian affiliate is home to many aviation and space flown hardware. “This is a fascinating exhibit – it combines photography, architecture, and aviation in unexpected ways,” Tellus Science Museum Executive Director Jose Santamaria said on Sunday. “It is very unique and the images are stunning.

Art of the Airport Tower exhibition

Carolyn Russo, National Air and Space Museum photographer, in front of her exhibit “Art of the Airport Tower.”

 

Virginia Museum of Natural History (Martinsville, VA)
Prehistoric adventure headed to Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville
There will also be a Stegosaurus display from the Smithsonian and fossils collected by scientists in the field.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West (Cody, WY)
Firearms experts gather for Cody museum symposium
July 17 will feature speakers and session leaders from the following institutions: Cody Firearms Museum, National Rifle Association’s Museums Division, Autry Museum of the American West, Springfield Armory National Historic Site, United States Marshals Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Smithsonian Institution National Firearms Collection, Colonial Williamsburg , Royal Armouries Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Pearl earrings from designer brenda smith

Southern Charm,” pearl earrings from designer Brenda Smith, are among the items on loan from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and included in a traveling exhibit that runs through next March at the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art in Elmhurst.
Courtesy of Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary art

Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art (Elmhurst, IL)
Smithsonian gems on display in Elmhurst
“Most of the pieces are either donated or gifted to the (Smithsonian) museum,” said Asher. “We’re a Smithsonian affiliate.” Asher said she worked with Smithsonian gem curator Russell Feather to select the pieces visitors will see in the “Smithsonian Gems” exhibit.

The Children’s Museum of the Upstate (Greenville, SC) (VIDEO)
Children’s Museum of the Upstate provides perfect atmosphere for solar eclipse
They will also have pinhole projectors, a live stream from NASA in the Smithsonian and activities in Spark!Lab focusing on women in astronomy. “We are an official viewing site of NASA, which means that we are able to have some NASA scientists come,” Halverson told WYFF News 4’s Allyson Powell Thursday.

Tellus Science Museum and Booth Western Art Museum (both in Cartersville, GA)
Travel: Consider Cartersville, Georgia
Despite traveling extensively, I’m still impressed when I discover big things in small places. Cartersville, Ga., a city of 20,000 residents about 40 minutes north of Atlanta, has major draws. It’s the smallest town in the U.S. with two Smithsonian Affiliate Museums. The Booth Western Art Museum houses the largest permanent exhibition space for Western art in the entire country — and what a fabulous place it is.

Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, PA)
Apollo 11 module will visit Pittsburgh next year — after a makeover
Before the Apollo 11 command module embarks on a cross-country tour of four museums — including the Senator John Heinz History Center in the Strip District — it’s getting a makeover for the first time since it arrived in 1976 at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, NPR reported Monday .