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¡Escuchame! 5 Questions With Dr. Kathleen Franz

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is working on a new initiative, Escuchame: The History of Spanish Language Broadcasting in the U.S.  The museum has rich collections related to television, but few that tell the story of Spanish-language broadcasting in the U.S. This initiative will document stories from early Telemundo and Univision stations as well as other public and independent stations. Documenting these stories will help show the influence these stations have had on the national narrative and the way the history of American television is written.

Portrait of Dr. Kathleen Franz

Dr. Kathleen Franz, Chair of Work & Industry and Curator of Business History at the National Museum of American History.

To understand more, and how our Affiliate network may participate, I asked five questions of Dr. Kathleen Franz, Chair of Work & Industry and Curator of Business History at the National Museum of American History.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be interested in your area of expertise?
In graduate school, I studied with one of the leading historians of advertising history in the U.S. and really became enthusiastic about the history of television and advertising as business history but also as popular culture. My work sits at the intersections of those two things.

Your current project centers on capturing the history of Spanish-language television in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. What sparked that idea and why is it important to capture this story?
I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and saw first-hand the long history and power of Spanish-language broadcasting in the U.S. through the pioneering station of KWEX whose roots go back to the 1950s. However, general and popular histories of television often leave out the history of Spanish-language TV in the golden era of the 1950s and 1960s. So, building an archive that housed, preserved, and made available the stories of women and men who created stations and the networks is really important, because the earliest Spanish-language broadcasting goes back to the era of radio in the 1930s, and the earliest television stations are there in the golden era with the first successful network, Spanish International Network (SIN), created in 1961.

A common thread to this huge collection of materials—time-worn press credentials, painted tennis shoes, photographs, mic flags, scripts—is that they represent decades of Spanish-language broadcasting from the network Telemundo. (NMAH)

What have you enjoyed most about this initiative? What has been an unexpected discovery, if any?
First, I have two wonderful collaborators at the museum, Dr. Mireya Loza, curator, Department of Work and Industry, and Melinda Machado, director, Office of Communications and Marketing, who have helped make contact with stations around the country and we’ve done the oral history and object collecting as a team. I’ve learned so much from working with them and meeting the various people who run the stations and put the programming on every day. We also had tremendous support from a private donor — of the Nicolas family in San Antonio who founded KCOR in 1954— the Smithsonian’s Latino Center, Telemundo, and Univision. I can’t name everyone here but I am so grateful for the support of the networks! This has been a serious collaboration to capture and preserve this history. One of the best, and unexpected discoveries, was a painting of the Televisa studios in Mexico City commissioned by Emilio Nicolas in the early 1960s. It’s so unusual to have an artist’s rendition of a TV set and the image captures the look and feel of that exciting era in television. Mr. Nicolas traveled regularly to Mexico City to produce programming at the studio and bring it back to the US Spanish-speaking market for SIN.

What would you like to share with Affiliates? And what would you like Affiliates to share with you?
I’m always delighted to talk to local audiences and I would be happy to talk about the collecting and sharing resources with Affiliates. In turn, it would help us to work with Affiliates to do collecting or memory days at their sites, especially ones who are in cities with long-running Spanish-language stations. We really want to capture what audiences thought and how they viewed and used the stations in their own lives.

What is your next project and what are you looking forward to with it?
Dr. Loza and I would like to publish an edited volume of the oral histories and we’ll be working on that over the next 18 months or so. I’m also currently working on the National Museum of American History’s major women’s history initiative exhibition for the centennial of Women’s suffrage. That exhibition will open at the museum in 2020 and then travel the country starting in 2021.

Dr. Franz is open to the possibility of visiting our Affiliate network in the fall to share more about this initiative. Do you have connections to Spanish-language television history? Contact your National Outreach Manager for more information about bringing Dr. Franz to your neighborhood.

Telemundo Microphone cubes

This series of microphone cubes used over the years by Telemundo 51 WSCV-TV in Florida was donated by Marilys Llanos, senior political reporter at at the station. (Photo by Laura Duff, Smithsonian Institution)

Affiliates in the news

Here’s a recap of our Affiliate news makers in October. 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

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. (Tamika Moore | tmoore@al.com)

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. (Tamika Moore | tmoore@al.com)

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, AL)
Birmingham Civil Rights District should be designated a national park
While I walked through NMAAHC and shared information with my two daughters, I was reminded of Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s long connection with the museum. Before there was one brick in place, BCRI collaborated with NMAAHC on numerous projects, including showcasing one of its traveling exhibitions, “Let Your Motto Be Resistance,” back in 2009. Our staff has supported its efforts in planning, the securing of objects and community support.

Springfield Museum of Art (Springfield, OH)
New Smithsonian museum has Dayton connection
A traveling exhibit “A Place for All People” is also designed to pique interest in the new museum. That show, a collection of posters, is currently on display at the Springfield Museum of Art. Ann Fortescue, the Springfield museum’s executive director, says one of the many benefits of being a Smithsonian Affiliate museum is sharing what’s happening at the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. with audiences in the Miami Valley.

"Star Wars and the Power of Costume" showcases not only the outfits that have become iconic, but the process behind the creation of the characters and their adornments. In the exhibition, you'll see both concept art (left) and the final looks (right), including these of C-3PO and R2-D2 from "Star Wars: A New Hope" and "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back." —Photo © & ™ 2016 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. Used under authorization

“Star Wars and the Power of Costume” showcases not only the outfits that have become iconic, but the process behind the creation of the characters and their adornments. In the exhibition, you’ll see both concept art (left) and the final looks (right), including these of C-3PO and R2-D2 from “Star Wars: A New Hope” and “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.” —Photo © & â„¢ 2016 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. Used under authorization

Denver Art Museum (Denver, CO)
Behind the Scenes of the DAM’s Upcoming “Star Wars” Exhibit
It’s been a few days since the latest Rogue One: A Star Wars Story trailer was released, and it’s another two months until the film hits theaters—but don’t despair. You can get your fill of the Star Wars world in the interim with Star Wars and the Power of Costume, which takes over the second floor of the Denver Art Museum (DAM) from November 13 through April 2.

New Mexico Museum of Space History (Alamogordo, NM)
New Exhibit to Showcase Gene Roddenberry’s Vision
But the smallest exhibit cases may be the ones that hold the real treasures, straight from the vault of the Smithsonian. The Star Trek episode The Trouble With Tribbles, written by David Gerrold who will be a special guest on opening night, revolves around furry little critters that multiply at an incredible rate and who also have a serious dislike for Klingons. Although the Starship Enterprise was overrun by tribbles at the time, only a very few remain in existence today. The tribble visitors will admire inside its eight inch case was actually used in that episode and is on loan to the museum from the Smithsonian.

National Civil Rights Museum (Memphis, TN)
The Smithsonian Names the National Civil Rights Museum as an Affiliate Museum
The National Civil Rights Museum has been named a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate. The Museum is the second Smithsonian Affiliate in Memphis, and seventh in the state of Tennessee. 

Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA)
National Museum of American History Examines Religion in America
Led by Richard Pickering, deputy executive director of Plimoth Plantation, the documentary theater program will explore the intersection of two musical traditions: hymns and psalms from the Church of England and Calvinist congregations and the sacred songs and dance of the Wampanoag, the indigenous people of Cape Cod, the Islands and southern Massachusetts.

Peoria Riverfront Museum (Peoria, IL)
Peoria Fine Arts Society hosts lectures on new national African American museum
Author, lecturer and teacher John W. Franklin will speak at the Peoria Riverfront Museum on Oct. 13 about the National Museum of African American History and Culture that recently opened on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

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Researchers simulated a gannet plunging into water, capturing the process with a high-speed camera. (Image by Sunny Jung/Virginia Tech)

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Raleigh, NC)
STUDY SHOWS HOW BIRDS DIVE SAFELY AT HIGH SPEEDS
To analyze the bird’s body shape and neck musculature, the team used a salvaged gannet provided by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. They also created 3-D printed replicas of gannet skulls from the collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, which helped them measure the forces on the skull as it enters the water. 

DuSable Museum of African American History (Chicago, IL)
What’s Ahead for Chicago’s DuSable Museum (VIDEO)
The DuSable Museum of African American History was founded in 1957 and it continues to showcase a rich and sometimes difficult history. Over the last year, two new executives have taken charge of the DuSable Museum. President and CEO Perri Irmer and chief curator Leslie Guy join host Eddie Arruza in discussion.

Las Vegas Natural History Museum (Las Vegas, NV)
Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Introduces World’s Largest Snake
Slithering in at 48 feet long and weighing an estimated one-and-a-half tons, a realistic replica of the world’s largest snake will on exhibit at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum from Oct. 14 through Jan. 8.

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November in Affiliateland

Is the Smithsonian in your neighborhood? Probably so! These Affiliates are bringing the Smithsonian to communities across the U.S. in November!

Georgia

From Clay to Copper: The Story of the Etowah Valley, a new exhibition at the Tellus Science Museum, includes 64 Native American artifacts and minerals from the National Museum of Natural History, in Cartersville beginning 11.5.

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Washington, D.C.

National Museum of American History features Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA) in Waking the Ancestors: Recovering the Lost and Sacred Sounds of Colonial America, a public program at the museum on 11.5-6.

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Florida

Daniel Piazza, curator at the National Postal Museum will present a lecture on communicating during the Revolutionary War at St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, in St. Augustine 11.10.

 

Colorado

Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Warsâ„¢ and the Power of Costume opens at the Denver Art Museum, in Denver 11.13. The exhibition was developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in partnership with the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and Lucasfilm Ltd.

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Wisconsin

The Civil War Museum, part of Kenosha Public Museums, will display Changing America:  The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963, an exhibition presented by the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History, in Kenosha 11.16.

Button for the 1941 March National Museum of American History, gift of Rita Jaros

Button for the 1941 March
National Museum of American History, gift of Rita Jaros

forging a connection between America’s industrial past and the innovations of today

The National Museum of Industrial History opened its doors on August 2, 2016. The Smithsonian’s very first Affiliate, the NMIH “forges connections between America’s industrial past and the innovations of today by educating the public and inspiring the visionaries of tomorrow” said NMIH Director, Amy Hollander. PBS39 recently aired this video showing the opening of the museum.

The story on NMIH runs from 11:13-19:29. 

coming up in Affiliateland: May 2016

Washington, D.C.
The National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, 5.5.

Smithsonian Affiliations welcomes staff from Affiliate organizations at a reception celebrating our 20th Anniversary on the first day of the American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting, 5.26

Florida
Maria del Carmen Cossu, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service project manager, will serve as a juror at the Mayfaire Arts Festival at the Polk Museum of Art, 5.7.

The Mennello Museum of American Art opens Pop Art Prints, an exhibition of 37 items from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The installation includes works from the 1960s by Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, and others. The installation is part of a series that highlights objects from the collection that are rarely on public view, opening 5.6.

Missouri
Last chance to see Above and Beyond at the Saint Louis Science Center. The exhibition celebrates the power of innovation to make dreams take flight and features two artifacts from the National Air and Space Museum. The exhibition closes 5.8.

California, Michigan, Washington, Hawaii, Colorado
Four Affiliates– Arab American National Museum, Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, and History Colorado – and the National Museum of American History will connect via webcast to a live Youth Town Hall at the Japanese American National Museum for National Youth Summit: Japanese Incarceration in World War II, 5.17.

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Ohio
The Ohio History Connection will host a videoconference featuring Dr. Jeremy Kinney, curator at the National Air and Space Museum.  The videoconference will connect NASM with the Ohio History Connection and Stone Gardens Assisted Living Complex near Cleveland. Kinney will discuss the Enola Gay and its restoration while a curator from OHC will address the Ohio connections to the plane, 5.19.

Virginia
Last chance to see two of George Washington’s battle swords together for the first time in over 200 years. One sword is on loan to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens from the National Museum of American History. Exhibit closes 5.30.

clippings2Idaho
There’s still time to see Titanoboa: Monster Snake at the Idaho Museum of Natural History, an exhibition organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. On view through 6.12.

“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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