On the Road Again with 101 Objects


Dr. Kurin uses a 3D printed replica of Lincoln’s Top Hat during his talk about his book at the Sullivan Museum and Library. Photo credit: Sullivan Museum

Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture, Richard Kurin, helped kick-off our 20th anniversary year at the Sullivan Museum and History Center (Vermont) in September and he’s on the road again sharing stories from his recent book, The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects, with Affiliates across the country. Since 2013 he has visited 11 Smithsonian Affiliates and will travel to two more in January and February 2016.

On January 11, Kurin visits History Colorado in Denver. As an expert storyteller, Kurin tells the story of the nation through some well-known treasures and unexpected objects that inspire learning and curiosity in everyone. He noted, “using objects to tell the story of the nation presents a great opportunity. Rather than learning history by memorizing names and dates, objects have a way of conveying historical times and events in a dramatic but tangible way.”


The very first stop on the “101 Objects” book tour was at the National Museum of American Jewish History. Photo credit: NMAJH

On February 16, he will visit the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh where he will continue to “WOW” visitors with stories about the Star-Spangled Banner, Abraham Lincoln’s Hat and less-well-known objects like Harriet Tubman’s hymnal and Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine.

And keep a lookout! Dr. Kurin often travels with 3D printed replicas of some of the treasures in the books. If he uses one, snap a photo and tag us at #SIYN20 and share with us! In the meantime, enjoy these photos of Dr. Kurin’s travels through Affiliateland speaking about his book.


Dr. Kurin traveled to the West coast and visited the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Seattle in 2014 for a gallery talk about the book. Photo credit: NW MAC


20 years in your neighborhood!


Twenty years ago, during the 150th anniversary celebration of the Smithsonian Institution, Secretary I. Michael Heyman announced the creation of a national outreach program that would extend the reach of the Smithsonian collections to communities, museums and research organizations across the nation. To fulfill the Smithsonian’s mission for the “increase and diffusion of knowledge,” Smithsonian Affiliations was created to provide access to Smithsonian collections and vast resources. The program’s goal was to make sure those who cannot travel to Washington, D.C., could experience and enjoy the Smithsonian in their own neighborhoods.

At the end of its first year, Smithsonian Affiliations welcomed 21 museums as Affiliates. Today, the program has established partnerships with more than 200 organizations in 45 states, Puerto Rico and Panama.

This month begins our series of highlighting the Smithsonian in Affiliate communities. We’ll be posting blogs, sharing photos on social media, inviting Affiliate guest authors to share their stories of being an Affiliate as well as Smithsonian guest authors sharing their history with Affiliates. We’ll be continuing this series through October 2016, so follow us along on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram and this blog. We hope you’ve experienced the Smithsonian in YOUR neighborhood!

A gift to Smithsonian Affiliations will enhance our efforts to reach Americans in their own communities. Donate to the I. Michael Heyman Smithsonian Across America Fund today. 

Are you a Smithsonian Affiliate? Contact us ( for the logo and guidelines.

About Smithsonian Affiliations’ 20th Anniversary

About Smithsonian Affiliations



Smithsonian Institution and Affiliate Collections Come Together for “Super Indian” at the Denver Art Museum

Special thanks for this guest post to: Eric Berkemeyer, Curatorial Assistant of Native Arts, Denver Art Museum

This October the Denver Art Museum opened Super Indian: Fritz Scholder, 1967-1980 which explores how Fritz Scholder used color and composition to create the powerful and innovative works of his Indian series. The exhibition features more than 40 monumental paintings and lithographs, including works loaned from Smithsonian Institution and Affiliate museums. With the support of these institutions the Denver Art Museum was able to realize an exhibition that fully engages with Scholder’s work from the period of 1967 to 1980; highlighting major themes and artistic approaches within the series.


Fritz Scholder, “Indian and Rhinoceros,” 1968, Oil paint on canvas, 68 × 120 in. Collection of the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, 268066.000 Photographer: Walter Larrimore, NMAI, © Estate of Fritz Scholder.

From the National Museum of the American Indian comes two works that draw attention to Scholder’s Pop art sensibilities with their bright color, scale, and use of popular, everyday imagery. These paintings, Indian and Rhinoceros (1968) and Walking to the Next Bar (1974), also exhibit his interest in social issues such as the conflicted relationship between American Indians and the Federal government and alcoholism respectively.

Also on view is Indian in Contemporary Chair (1970) from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. With the figure’s gritty, expressionistic rendering, its inclusion contributes to the interpretation of English artist Francis Bacon’s influence on Scholder’s style and composition. Furthermore, the contrast of an Indian subject within a contemporary setting serves to challenge viewers’ assumptions of the place of American Indians in the present day, another theme that runs throughout the exhibition.

Fritz Scholder, Indian at a Gallup Bus Depot, 1969, Oil paint on canvas, 40 × 30 in. Booth Western Art Museum permanent collection, Cartersville, GA, 2013.011.001 Photo courtesy Louis Tonsmeire, Jr., © Estate of Fritz Scholder.

Fritz Scholder, “Indian at a Gallup Bus Depot,” 1969, Oil paint on canvas, 40 × 30 in. Booth Western Art Museum permanent collection, Cartersville, GA, 2013.011.001. Photo courtesy Louis Tonsmeire, Jr., © Estate of Fritz Scholder.

In addition to the fourteen works from the Denver Art Museum, works from two other Smithsonian Affiliates are also featured in the exhibition. From the Booth Western Art Museum is Indian at a Gallup Bus Depot (1969) depicting what Scholder called an “Indian cowboy” in front of an arcade machine, highlighting Scholder’s Pop art sensibility as well as the influence of his teacher Wayne Thiebaud. And, from the Heard Museum comes Indian Dying in Nebraska (1972) adding to the exhibitions exploration of dark and mysterious subjects.

With generous institutional support such as this, visitors to the exhibition are better able to explore the rich work of Fritz Scholder. The exhibition continues at the Denver Art Museum until January 17, 2016. It will then travel to the Phoenix Art Museum February 16, 2016 to June 5, 2016 and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, KS June 23, 2016 to September 18, 2016.

Kids go bonkers for Superman suit

The signature blue, red and yellow suit worn by mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent wore as Superman is at the Ohio History Center, the headquarters of Ohio History Connection, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, thanks to a loan from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The suit, worn by actor George Reeves in the 1950s televeision show, is part of 1950s: Building the American Dream, a new exhibit at the History Center.

Read the O Say Can You See? blog about this loan.

The Columbus Dispatch posted this video the day the suit was unveiled. They were on hand to see some local school children go bonkers over the suit. Check it out below.

And read the entire Columbus Dispatch story here.

Follow @SIAffiliates, @amhistorymuseum, and @OhioHistory on Twitter to follow the #superman weekend (October 10, 2015 the exhibition opens to the public).

Smithsonian that Way

appiconLet’s be honest; not everyone has the opportunity to visit the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. And not everyone may know that there is a Smithsonian Affiliate in their local community. But what if I told you one app is trying to do just that—help people discover Smithsonian Affiliates in their own neighborhoods?!

blog_app_imageThe Smithsonian Mobile app is not only a digital guide to the Smithsonian in D.C., but it also helps visitors discover the nearest Smithsonian Affiliate in our network of more than 200 partners. “Smithsonian that Way” augmented reality (AR) uses your smart phone’s camera to show the broad reach of the Smithsonian. One filter shows Smithsonian museums. Another filter shows Smithsonian libraries and archives. A third layer shows a tiny sample of the vast amount of Smithsonian research taking place on the National Mall and beyond. And a final filter shows Smithsonian Affiliates, our partners bringing the Smithsonian to communities around the nation.

Each Affiliate location in the app gives an overview of the organization and links to the Smithsonian Affiliations website, where you can learn more about our Affiliate network or navigate to the Affiliate you are interested in visiting.

Is the Smithsonian in your neighborhood?



Affiliates in the news! October e-newsletter edition

Congrats to these Affiliates making news!  If you have a clipping highlighting a collaboration with the Smithsonian or with a fellow Affiliate you’d like to have considered for the Affiliate blog, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee.

Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden (Staten Island, NY)
Staten Island Museum Is Reopening in Snug Harbor Complex
An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, Snug Harbor consists of an 83-acre campus with 28 buildings, including a music hall, an art lab, nine botanical gardens, the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, the Noble Maritime Collection, the Snug Harbor Artist Residency Program and the Staten Island Children’s Museum.

NASA boilerplate, BP-1207, was delivered to the New Mexico Museum of Space History Wednesday after it was restored and painted by Holloman Air Force Base airmen. (Tara Melton — Daily News)

NASA boilerplate, BP-1207, was delivered to the New Mexico Museum of Space History Wednesday after it was restored and painted by Holloman Air Force Base airmen. (Tara Melton — Daily News)

New Mexico Museum of Space History (Alamagordo, NM)
ASA boilerplate returned to museum: After being restored by airmen, boilerplate will be highlighted for six months
Over two years ago, BP-1207 was awarded to the New Mexico Museum of Space History as part of the Smithsonian Affiliates Program and is on loan from the National Air and Space Museum.

South Dakota State Historical Society (Pierre, SD)
Lt. Gov. Michels to emcee Native American Day
At the conclusion of the speakers’ comments, Spiritual Leader Roy Stone of the Rosebud Sioux Reservation will lead attendees into the gallery for a special Cleansing Ceremony and Prayer with the newly displayed effigies including the Great Sioux Horse Effigy from South Dakota and horse memorials borrowed from the State Historical Society of North Dakota and the National Museum of the American Indian.

UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio, TX)
Smithsonian Exhibit on Display in Texas Educates about Sikh Culture
The permanent exhibit was commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. and originally opened in 2004.

National World War II Museum (New Orleans, LA)
The World’s Top Museums, According to Travelers
Honoring nearly 600 institutions worldwide, the Travelers’ Choice awards have recognized the favorite museums that serve as cultural treasure troves for our community of millions,” says Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor. “These world-class museums provide an enriching experience that can be both inspiring and educational for travelers around the globe.” Travelers’ Choice Awards – Non-Art Museums in the US Top 10: #3. The National World War II Museum, New Orleans, LA.

National Museum of Industrial History (Bethlehem, PA)
National Museum of Industrial History gets closer to mid-2016 opening in Bethlehem
The museum will include 23 pieces on loan from the Smithsonian Institution’s 1876 centennial exhibition. The collection includes the likes of the Frick Eclipse portable steam engine and the Linde Wolf ammonia compressor, the oldest surviving large-scale refrigeration compressor in America.

Conner Prairie (Fishers, IN)
Conner Prairie to host annual Museum Day Live
“It’s so valuable to us because we are networked with the largest museum in the country. We’re able to take advantage of special speakers, special exhibits and they assist us with consultations. We’re affiliated with other museums across the country. It’s a nice network for us,” said Brodt.


NASM curator, John Grant, at the Abbe Museum.

Abbe Museum (Bar Harbor, Maine)
Acadia Night Sky Festival enters 7th year of stargazing
The festival starts with a presentation by keynote speaker John A. Grant III, a geologist at the Center for Earth & Planetary Studies at the National Air and Space Museum. Grant will present “Exploring Mars with the Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity Rovers.” Following Grant’s presentation, attendees may enjoy the “Stars Over Sand Beach” event, where attendees can gaze at Acadia’s amazing night sky and learn about constellations guided by an Acadia National Park ranger.

Youth photos of cosmos to be shown at Abbe
The museum’s partnership with schools in the Wabanaki communities gave students the opportunity to research, learn about and photograph the cosmos using telescopes owned and maintained by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “The goal of the YCCC II program is to use hands-on exercises to teach youth how to control the MicroObservatory robotic telescopes over the internet and take their own images of the universe,” said Abbe Museum Educator George Neptune, Passamaquoddy. “Here at the Abbe, the project also encouraged students to choose subjects based on Wabanaki stories about the stars. Each student had the opportunity to research traditional stories and interpret them in a modern context using 21st century technology.”

Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos II: Star Stories of the Dawnland
The Abbe Museum, the first and only Smithsonian Affiliate in the state of Maine, is pleased to announce its participation in the Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos II (YCCC II) program. By partnering with schools in the Wabanaki communities, students had the opportunity to research, learn about and photograph the cosmos using telescopes owned and maintained by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The resulting exhibit, Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos II: Star Stories of the Dawnland, will open on Sept. 10 to coincide with the Acadia Night Sky Festival. 


Portrait of Beth Levine (Lady with Red Bow), Philip Pearlstein (b. 1924), 1985, Oil on canvas. For the exhibition “Beth Levine: First Lady of Shoes” at the Long Island Museum.

Long Island Museum (Stony Brook, NY)
Beth Levine: The First Lady of Shoes
In addition to Levine’s iconic footwear, visitors will find photos, paintings, illustrations, film footage and other artifacts on display. The curator said even those who aren’t footwear aficionados will appreciate Levine’s work. “I think you can see these shoes as works of art,” Verin said. “You can really see a brilliant mind and talent at work.” 

The Air Zoo (Portage, Michigan)
RADIO- WSW: Air Zoo’s ‘Black Wings’ Exhibit Tells of Journey to Integrate the Skies
The Smithsonian Institution exhibit about pioneering black aviators and astronauts soon leaves the continental U.S. for good, but people can still see it until Oct. 4th at the Air Zoo in Portage. WMUK’s Earlene McMichael finds out why the exhibit was created and what’s in it from a Smithsonian official and Air Zoo CEO Troy Thrash.

Rhode Island Historical Society (Providence, Rhode Island)
Rhode Island Historical Society partners with Smithsonian
The Rhode Island Historical Society is now an affiliate of the Smithsonian. The organization announced Wednesday its partnership with the Smithsonian Affiliations program. 

Langevin_RIHS_Smithsonian_Affiliate_blogSmithsonian Proportions
While seeing the Hope Diamond or the Apollo 11 capsule may give a sense of awe – and is certainly inspiring – only a vanishingly small number of us will have the opportunity to fly in space or own a 45 karat diamond. Most of us have a GPS in our pockets today to help us get around, though, so when we see Roger Williams’s pocket compass, the connection is instantaneous. I hope this new affiliation will help people around the Ocean State experience that thrill of connection in a state so steeped in tradition and history.

The Anchorage Museum (Anchorage, Alaska)
Anchorage Museum Hosts Arctic Programming During President Obama’s Visit to Alaska
The Anchorage Museum is co-hosting events in collaboration with the upcoming GLACIER (Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience) Conference, an event hosted in Anchorage Aug. 30-31 by the U.S. Department of State and the Secretary of State John Kerry to broaden awareness of critical issues the international community faces in the Arctic. Approximately 150 foreign ministers and 300 members of the international press will attend the conference, with President Barack Obama giving closing remarks. The Anchorage Museum has created multiple exhibitions and programs focused on the contemporary and future Arctic as part of its Polar Lab programming and is home to the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center.

Space Center Houston (Houston, Texas)
Eleven-year-old inventor takes part in Space Center Houston programs
Space Center also offers Space University. According to the website, “SpaceU is a week long immersive, STEM rich learning experience that teaches not only about space exploration, but about traveling to and sustaining life upon a distant planet. Where better to train like an astronaut than in the very heart of where it all began?