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Kudos Affiliates! May 2018

Congratulations to these Affiliates on their recent accomplishments! Do you have a kudos to share? Please send potential kudos to Aaron Glavas, GlavasC@si.edu.

Funding

The PNC Foundation announced a five-year, $1 million grant to Union Station, Kansas City, Inc. (Kansas City, MO) in support of science education that will benefit approximately 14,000 members of the community, with a focus on Head Start preschool students, children, and families. The funding, made possible through the PNC Foundation as part of its signature philanthropic early education initiative, PNC Grow Up Great, will also support the establishment of a multipurpose classroom space at Science City and touch an additional 260,000 annual visitors to the science center. The grant is PNC’s largest to date in Kansas City.

Fred Beans Family of Dealerships donated $25,000 to Mercer Museum for its educational program, National History Day, through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program. This gift will fund the Mercer’s regional program for students in Pennsylvania’s Bucks and Montgomery counties. Students choose historical topics related to an annual theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research involving interviews and visits to libraries, archives, museums and historic sites. During the competition, they present their work in original papers, exhibits, performances and documentaries. Students who win at the regional level will go on to participate in statewide and national competitions.

NASA has awarded a $750,000 grant to a research effort led by Wichita State University to develop more efficient and compact thermal and water management systems. The grant will also support engineering outreach activities at the partner universities as well as the Kansas Cosmosphere.

Larimer County recently awarded 11 small grants totaling $20,646 to neighborhood and community projects designed to connect people to the outdoors and to promote education and sustainability. This includes a grant for $3,000 to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to study mass extinction and conduct geologic fieldwork and lab analysis of the Lykins Formation at Red Mountain Open Space.

L to R: George Guastello – Union Station; Kim Herman and Dale Klose – PNC Bank; Mayor Sly James – Kansas City, Missouri.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced $18.6 million in grants for 199 humanities projects across the country including the following Affiliate projects:

University of Arizona: $298,000
Project Title: Implementing a Consolidated Collections Information System
Project Description: The continued development and completion of a single, searchable public database for the Arizona State Museum‘s ethnographic and archaeological collections, which document 13,000 years of cultural heritage in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. The database, which contains more than 360,000 entries, will include links to archival records of original excavation notes and reports.

Florida International University Board of Trustees: $91,309
Project Title: War and Healing: A Century of Veterans’ Reintegration
Project Description: A two-day intensive training seminar followed by two four-week discussion programs for veterans in the Miami, Florida, area.

Florida International University Board of Trustees: $6,000
Project Title: Balloon Flight and British Literature of the 18th and 19th Centuries
Project Description: Research and writing for a book on the emerging technology of ballooning in 18th-century England and its impact on literature and the techniques of omniscient narration.

Abbe Museum: $50,000
Project Title: Access to Native American Collections at the Abbe Museum                                              Project Description: The Abbe Museum holds 70,000 objects documenting the 12,000 year history of the five Wabanaki Nation tribes that inhabit northern New England, Maritime Canada, and Quebec. The project will develop a pilot program to work with local tribal leaders to digitize these artifacts, collect information about their history, and share the collections with the public in a way that respects tribal customs.

University of Massachusetts, Boston: $181,000
Project Title: Digitizing Plimoth Plantation’s 17th-Century Historical Archaeology Collections
Project Description: Cataloging, digitization, and creation of access to the archaeological collections connected to the early colonists of Plimoth Plantation. The project encompasses field notes, plans, drawings, and photos associated with the excavations of four key sites. Materials will be made accessible to the public, teachers, students, and scholars via an online database and finding aids.

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center (Ohio History Connection) (Fremont): $1,000
Project Title: NEH on the Road: Jacob Riis

Upcountry History Museum (Greenville): $1,000
Project Title: NEH on the Road: Power of Children

NEH on the Road is a traveling exhibition program presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities and Mid-America Arts Alliance, to strengthen communities and improve lives through extraordinary cultural experiences.

Leadership Changes

After 13 years, Devon Akmon will leave his post as director of the Arab American National Museum (Dearborn). Akmon’s last day is May 31. A national search is underway to select the next leader of the museum, the first and only of its kind focused on Arab-American history and culture.

Dr. Doug Bradburn, new president and CEO of George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

 

The Pacific Aviation Museum Board of Directors named Elissa Lines new Executive Director for the museum. Lines, who joined the Museum in 2013, previously served as the executive director of development at the museum.

The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association announced the selection of its current library director, Dr. Doug Bradburn, to serve as the new president and chief executive officer of George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Kudos Affiliates! for September 2017

Great job Affiliates!

The National Endowment for the Humanities announced more than $39 million will be awarded to nonprofit organizations including the following Affiliate initiatives:

Portrait of Leonard Berstein, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science (Denver, CO) $300,000
    To support a project to rehouse an archaeology collection of 72,000 objects that focuses on North America. The artifacts will be moved to the LEED-certified Avenir Collections Center and placed on custom-created storage mounts and in new cabinetry.
  • Mystic Seaport Museum (Mystic, CT) $154,811
    To support a four-week institute for twenty college and university faculty to study the social, cultural, and environmental history of American maritime regions.
  • Kentucky Historical Society (Lexington, KY) $300,000
    To prepare for digital publication of the papers of the governors of Kentucky during the Civil War.
  • Mississippi Department of Archives and History (Jackson, MS) $274,175
    To progress the Mississippi Digital Newspaper Project, Phase Three
  • National Museum of American Jewish History (Philadelphia, PA) $250,000
    To implement a traveling exhibition about American composer Leonard Bernstein on the centennial of his birth.
  • Buffalo Bill Center of the West (Cody, WY) $200,000
    To upgrade environmental controls and improve fire and security systems at the Cody Firearms Museum, which houses a collection of 7,000 firearms and more than 20,000 related objects chronicling the development of firearms from 1425 to the present.

Humanities Nebraska recently awarded a $5,500 grant to the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum (Ashland, NE) for the case and signage of a new exhibit on Astronaut Clayton Anderson.

October 2016 is BUSY in Affiliateland!

Thanks to all our Affiliates for such great work!

CONNECTICUT
Affiliations program Director Harold Closter will announce the new affiliation with the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford, 10.5.

IOWA
The Dubuque Museum of Art will hold a videoconference on En Plein Air with the American Art Museum in Dubuque, 10.11.

LOUISIANA
The Smithsonian Associates will be working with three Affiliates – the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, the St. Louis Science Center and the Museum of Arts and Sciences on GEAR UP, a science education program for 8th graders in Lafayette, 10.11-13.

MISSOURI
National Outreach Manager Aaron Glavas will announce the new affiliation with the St. Louis Science Center, and National Air and Space Museum educator Tim Grove will present a book talk at a Member Open House event in St. Louis, on 10.13.

HAWAII
The Pacific Aviation Museum will host an astrophotography workshop with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, in Honolulu, 10.13-14.

ARIZONA
The Heard Museum will open the exhibition Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist from the National Museum of the American Indian, in Phoenix, 10.13

GEORGIA
Staff from the National Museum of Natural History will be giving talks at a private event for the Atlanta Regional Host Committee at the David Sencer Centers for Disease Control Museum in Atlanta, 10.13.

NEVADA
The Las Vegas Natural History Museum will open the SITES exhibition Titanaboa in Las Vegas, 10.15.

NORTH CAROLINA
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will host the Board meeting and associated activities of the Smithsonian Science Education Center in Raleigh, 10.17.

WASHINGTON, DC
Over 120 Affiliate staff will help celebrate the 20th anniversary of Smithsonian Affiliations at the annual conference in Washington, 10.17-20.

TENNESSEE
John Franklin from the National African American Museum will announce the new affiliation with the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, 10.20.

OHIO
National Outreach Manager Jennifer Brundage will give comments at the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology groundbreaking, dedication and dinner event in Akron, 10.22.

American Art Museum curator Virginia Mecklenburg will present a talk on Seeing America with Norman Rockwell at the Springfield Museum of Art in Springfield, 10.25.

COLORADO
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Smithsonian Science Education Center will collaborate on workshops on Building Awareness for Science Education in Denver, 10.24-25.

DELAWARE
National Museum of American History curator Katherine Ott will attend and offer commentary at the Making of Modern Disability conference at the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, 10.28.

 

 

Affiliates in the news!

Congrats to these Affiliates making news!  Each month we highlight Affiliate-Smithsonian and Affiliate-Affiliate collaborations making headlines.  This is a compilation of clippings from mid-November until early-January. 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.

Henry Woodward tries his hand at "Snap Circuits" Photo by Jim Levulis WAMC

Henry Woodward tries his hand at “Snap Circuits” Photo by Jim Levulis WAMC

Berkshire Museum (Pittsfield, Massachusetts) RADIO SPOT
An Educational “Spark” At Berkshire Museum
“Hands-on engagement is a really great way to foster creativity and innovative thinking,” says Maria Mingalone, the director of interpretation at the Berkshire Museum. “So that’s really the aim and the goal of our Spark!Lab.” Developed at the Smithsonian Institution, the program features 10 hands-on laboratories for kids 5 or younger…but if you’re older, they’ll let you in.

Springfield Art Museum (Springfield, Ohio)
Springfield Art Museum shows student artists’ work
We were thrilled to take advantage of this exciting educational opportunity and to show that our Smithsonian affiliation is a tremendous boon, not only for the Springfield Museum of Art but for the Springfield community as a whole,” Housh said.

Tellus Science Museum (Cartersville, Georgia)
Tellus Museum adds space artifacts, new exhibits in 2014
Tellus also received for display from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum a real lunar module engine which was test fired by the space agency in Mississippi in 1972. The lunar module was used to taxi two astronauts to the Moon’s surface and back from the command ship soaring in lunar orbit.

In Tellus exhibit, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that bling
But the idea behind it — and the other 46 pieces in the touring exhibit drawn from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s collection — was to show how simple materials can be transformed into remarkable treasures with artistic skill and ingenuity (oh, and bling — can’t forget the bling).

Tellus presents ‘Jeweled Objects of Desire’ exhibit
“Sidney Mobell honored the life of his wonderful wife Ronni Grant Mobell with the donation of 19 of his famous jeweled art creations to the Smithsonian. Since that time in addition to the installation of a Mobell jeweled art collection display at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C., Mr. Mobell’s exhibit has traveled to Smithsonian affiliate museums in Florida, [Louisiana and] Kentucky.

San Francisco jewelry artist Sidney Mobell created this U.S. mail box, plated with 24-karat gold and studded with 137 sapphires weighing 48.20 carats, 100 rubies weighing 24.50 carats, 25 diamonds weighing 2.25 carats, and 10 emeralds weighing 1.75 carats. It’s on view in the exhibit “Jeweled Objects of Desire” at Cartersville’s Tellus Science Museum.

San Francisco jewelry artist Sidney Mobell created this U.S. mail box, plated with 24-karat gold and studded with 137 sapphires weighing 48.20 carats, 100 rubies weighing 24.50 carats, 25 diamonds weighing 2.25 carats, and 10 emeralds weighing 1.75 carats. It’s on view in the exhibit “Jeweled Objects of Desire” at Cartersville’s Tellus Science Museum.

Renowned Jewelry Designer Sidney Mobell Opens Gem Exhibit At Tellus Science Museum
Mobell’s pieces on exhibit were donated by him to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and are on loan to Tellus as part of the Jeweled Objects of Desire exhibit. The exhibition features gems and jewelry from other artists represented in the Smithsonian’s collection such as Aldo Cipullo and John Sinkankas. Tellus has been a Smithsonian Affiliate since opening in 2009.

Smithsonian Curator To Discuss Reportedly Cursed Diamond In Cartersville
Dr. Post’s lecture precedes the opening of Jeweled Objects of Desire, one of the first of many Smithsonian exhibits to be on display at Tellus Science Museum. Tellus Science Museum has been a Smithsonian-affiliate institution since it opened in 2009. 

Tellus highlights Hope Diamond tonight
We’ve been affiliates of the Smithsonian for over five years now,” Tellus Executive Director Jose Santamaria said. “We’ve developed a good relationship, not just with the Smithsonian in general, but with Jeff. Our former curator, Julian Gray, and I have visited him a couple of times to review items to put on display here at Tellus. We actually have a pretty large, significant exhibit opening up in a couple of weeks because of collaborating with him.

Smithsonian Curator To Discuss Hope Diamond At Tellus Science Museum
Dr. Post’s lecture precedes the opening of Jeweled Objects of Desire, one of the first of many Smithsonian exhibits to be on display at Tellus Science Museum. Tellus has been a Smithsonian Affiliate since opening in 2009

Abbe Museum (Bar Harbor, Maine)
Abbe Museum helps bring together Wabanaki youth and astronomy
The full exhibition will include students from other Wabanaki communities and promote increased interest, awareness and knowledge of astronomy content and Wabanaki oral histories.

Students from the Indian Township School will combine their own stories and images of the cosmos as part of the Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos program. The Abbe Museum and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics are helping to provide this opportunity. IMAGE COURTESY OF ABBE MUSEUM

Students from the Indian Township School will combine their own stories and images of the cosmos as part of the Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos program. The Abbe Museum and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics are helping to provide this opportunity. IMAGE COURTESY OF ABBE MUSEUM

Abbe Museum Partners with Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Smithsonian Affiliations
The Abbe is partnering with the Indian Township School to offer the opportunity for students to research, learn, and photograph the cosmos using telescopes owned and maintained by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Museum of the African Diaspora (San Francisco, California)
Museum of the African Diaspora’s Rebirth: Q&A with MoAD Director Linda Harrison
The museum is also now officially a Smithsonian Affiliate, allowing it access to the Smithsonian Institute’s vast array of resources, including its unmatched artifact collection, which houses 136-million cultural and historical artifacts.

Renovated MoAD bigger, better
A recently acquired affiliation with the Smithsonian also boosts MoAD’s draw. This association with the venerated national museum center will allow MoAD to present significant traveling shows and to access the Smithsonian collection for exhibits and research.

MoAD cuts the ribbon and welcomes art lovers to reimagined space
As to MoAD’s recent affiliation with the Smithsonian, “I am delighted after all these years, MoAD has arrived at the point where it is associated with the premier museum in America.”

Celebrate the culture, history and art of people of African descent

MoAD reopens with big changes and big plans
Central to that initiative is the museum’s new status as a Smithsonian Affiliate. Partnering with the powerful Washington, D.C., institution will give MoAD access to the Smithsonian’s enormous resources and expertise. Benefits include touring exhibitions, object loans, and visiting scholars and speakers. The advantages are mutual. “We’re very interested in having a presence with this museum in San Francisco,” said Laura Hansen, national outreach manager for Smithsonian Affiliations.

(From left) Wade Rose, Linda Harrison, Alejandro de la Fuente, Lava Thomas, Naomi Kelley, Willie Brown cutting the ribbon at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD).

(From left) Wade Rose, Linda Harrison, Alejandro de la Fuente, Lava Thomas, Naomi Kelley, Willie Brown cutting the ribbon at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD).

Museum of American Finance (New York, New York)
David Rubenstein to Receive 2015 Whitehead Award for Public Service and Financial Leadership From Museum of American Finance
“There is no more deserving recipient of the 2015 Whitehead Award than David Rubinstein,” said David Cowen, President and CEO of the Museum of American Finance. “His outstanding achievements in the financial world are only surpassed by his deep commitment and dedication to preserving the nation’s history.”

Anchorage Museum (Anchorage, Alaska)
ArtBeat: Three gutsy women at the Anchorage Museum
Three Alaska women have been laying their guts out at the Anchorage Museum this week. Literally. Mary Tunuchuk, Elaine Kingeekuk and Sonya Kelliher-Combs have been working with animal intestines to make traditional items and contemporary art in a weeklong residency in the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center that winds up today.

The Command Module, Apollo 9 (Gumdrop) is on loan to the San Diego Air and Space Museum from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

The Command Module, Apollo 9 (Gumdrop) is on loan to the San Diego Air and Space Museum from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

San Diego Air and Space Museum (San Diego, California) (NASM loan)
New Space Vehicle Orion Launching December 4th; Apollo 9 On Exhibit at San Diego Air & Space Museum
Just as this Orion launch is a precursor to returning people to deep space, so the San Diego Air & Space Museum’s Apollo 9 spacecraft was a vital stepping-stone for astronauts to land on the moon in the summer of 1969.

Museum of Appalachia (Norris, Tennessee)
Tennessee’s Museum of Appalachia is a colourful side trip off I-75
Now operated as a non-profit corporation overseen by a board which includes the founder’s daughter, Elaine Meyer, the Museum of Appalachia recently was accepted into the Smithsonian Affiliation program, an acknowledgement of its importance to preserving the history of mountain pioneers.

Heard Museum (Phoenix, Arizona)
EDDIE VAN HALEN TO Help Launch Smithsonian/Zocalo Initiative
The kick-off event January 14 will feature former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of the Girl Scouts Of The USA, at the Heard Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate in Phoenix. Music icon Eddie Van Halen will headline the next event at the National Museum Of American History in February.

Museum of the Rockies (Bozeman, Montana)
The Scientist Behind “Jurassic World”, Jack Horner, Breaks Down the Movie’s Thrilling Trailer
As fantastical as the Jurassic Park movies are, there’s a real scientist behind the franchise – Jack Horner, a paleontologist at Museum of the Rockies, who not only served as scientific adviser on all four films, but also helped inspire the character of Dr. Alan Grant, played by actor Sam Neill. We spoke with Horner, 68, about making dinosaurs from mosquitoes and what to expect from Jurassic World.

Jack Horner, curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies, poses near the Wankel T. rex, in Fort Peck, Mont., in June 1990. COURTESY MUSEUM OF THE ROCKIES/SMITHSONIAN

Jack Horner, curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies, poses near the Wankel T. rex, in Fort Peck, Mont., in June 1990. COURTESY MUSEUM OF THE ROCKIES/SMITHSONIAN

America’s T. Rex Gets A Makeover
(Affiliate mentioned in caption of one of the images.)

Denver Museum of Nature and Science (Denver, Colorado)
New Volume Documents the Science at the Legendary Snowmastodon Fossil Site in Colorado
Project co-leader and former DMNS chief curator, Dr. Kirk Johnson, and several scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and academic institutions around the world contributed articles to the journal.  “Nothing beats pulling fossils out of the ground,” said project scientist Dr. Jeff Pigati of the U.S. Geological Survey, “but the site also lets us see what the Colorado Rockies were like during a period of time that we simply couldn’t reach before the discovery.” 

Mid-America Science Museum (Hot Springs, Arkansas)
Mid-America Science Museum Renovation on Schedule, Re-opening Set for March
The museum, which opened in 1979 and has been a Smithsonian Institution affiliate since 2001, is undergoing its first renovation and expansion. New features include new classroom space, a maker space, updated exhibits for school groups, activities for adults and opportunities for teacher professional development in hands-on science education.

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (Seattle, Washington)
Wing Luke Museum spotlights Asian-Pacific impact on Northwest history VIDEO
The first affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute is right here in Seattle. The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience offers a unique perspective into the historic and cultural impact of the Asian Pacific community in the Northwest. The museum opened in 1967, named in tribute to Wing Luke, the first person of color elected to the city council, and the first Asian American elected to public office in the Pacific Northwest.

North Carolina Museum of History (Raleigh, North Carolina)
NC Museum of History salutes state’s celluloid past
They set to work, researching to identify as many made-in-North-Carolina films as they could. The oldest one they found was “The Heart of Esmeralda,” a silent film from 1912. Then they started borrowing artifacts such as the coonskin cap worn by Fess Parker in 1955’s “Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier,” which is on loan from the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

From left, objects conservator Jennifer French and registrar Camille Hunt carefully move the coonskin cap worn by actor Fess Parker in the beloved 1950s TV series “Davy Crockett” into a display case. The cap is on loan from the National Museum of American History. JULI LEONARD

From left, objects conservator Jennifer French and registrar Camille Hunt carefully move the coonskin cap worn by actor Fess Parker in the beloved 1950s TV series “Davy Crockett” into a display case. The cap is on loan from the National Museum of American History. JULI LEONARD

Museum exhibit shines spotlight on NC film history
Loaners include the Smithsonian and film companies, but also a stuntman and a make-up artist. “One of the great things about this exhibit — our own collection was small, and we didn’t have a whole lot of really good things,” said exhibit team leader Camille Hunt. “But everyone was so eager to help out and came forward with all these amazing artifacts.”

The saga of Davy Crockett’s coonskin cap
Curator Dwight Blocker Bowers shares the story of Davy Crockett’s coonskin cap, now on view in Starring North Carolina! at the North Carolina Museum of History, a Smithsonian Affiliate museum.

The Children’s Museum of the Upstate (Greenville, South Carolina)
Museum explores space through past, future artists
The space exhibit is just the first project in the Smithsonian affiliation, but its impact so far is exceeding even Halverson’s expectations. “Now the Space and Rocket Center is interested in hosting this exhibit, so the momentum that gets created when these collaborations occur, that is just so powerful,” she said.

Road Report: discoveries in Denver

We’ve all had this experience right? You have a favorite museum that you visit all the time. Then one day, you hear from staff about all the behind-the-scenes work they did to bring something amazing to the museum floor, and you gain a whole new perspective and appreciation of their work.

I had this delightful experience this week. Being from Colorado, I’ve visited the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS) many times with my family growing up. But I was fortunate to attend one day of the Mountain Plains Museum Association (MPMA) Conference in Aspen this week, and heard two staff from DMNS talk about two very different programs that revealed another dimension of their contributions to the community.

Kirk Johnson, former chief curator (and now director of the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian) gave the keynote talk at the MPMA Conference about their Snowmastodon Project, a massive and utterly unique discovery of Ice Age fossils at Ziegler Reservoir near Snowmass Village in the Colorado Rockies.

National Museum of Natural History director Kirk Johnson, digging for mastodon bones in Colorado.

National Museum of Natural History director Kirk Johnson, digging for mastodon bones in Colorado.

In 2010, a bulldozer driver working on an expansion of the Reservoir uncovered bones of a juvenile mammoth. Years later, having tapped an army of volunteers including local school teachers from the Aspen area and world-renowned Ice Age scientists, the Museum recovered over 6000 bones from 50 different species from the site including Ice Age horses, a camel, mastodons of all ages, and a giant bison. There are no other comparable sites at this elevation (over 6000 feet), and the diversity of the mammals represented is extraordinary.

The fossils are now cleaned and preserved, and are in top-rate storage or on view for the benefit of scholars and the public. And the finishing touch? Just this week, the Museum installed a 19-foot bronze sculpture of a mastodon (which would have dwarfed a modern-day elephant by the way). Here’s a timelapse video of its installation.

Later in the afternoon, I sat in on an excellent session with Andréa Giron from the Museum’s Visitor Insights Department (and a Affiliations Visiting Professional alumna). Andréa discussed all the ways the Museum has researched its Latino audiences in particular, and the ways they are honing their programming to attract this important audience. Why? Because the Museum wants its visitation to mirror the demographics of its community (as we all do!), and can boast Latino visitation that is slightly higher than the national average as a result of their efforts. Andréa shared some great ideas such as:

Staff makes sure kids feel right at home at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Staff makes sure kids feel right at home at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

1) crowdsource translation of your materials so they actually make sense to your audience. Google Translate just doesn’t capture nuance!

2) Think about your family membership category. Latino audiences in particular tend to visit in multi-generational groups of 6 or more. DMNS created a Family Plus membership to respond.

3) Language can sometimes be a barrier. Andréa surveyed DMNS staff and found a range of Spanish-speakers, including security and facilities staff, who now wear buttons on the floor offering help to visitors in Spanish. (She also found unexpected speakers of Dutch and ASL experts as well!)

I am always inspired by the great work of our Affiliates, especially when I have the privilege to hear it first-hand from the colleagues doing it. Bravo DMNS! Can’t wait to bring my family back on my next visit to Colorado.

Jennifer Brundage is a National Outreach Manager in Smithsonian Affiliations.

where the buffalo roam

On Saturday, August 30, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo will bring back the American bison in a new exhibit and habitat.  Zora and Wilma are not only beautiful animals, but they also serve as an important reminder about conservation and the Zoo’s inception. In 1887, American bison wandered the National Mall, helping to bring awareness to the endangerment of the species. Two years later, Congress passed legislation to found the National Zoo, celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

Bison roam around the Smithsonian Castle

Bison roam around the Smithsonian Castle, 1887-89

At Affiliations, we are wallowing in the excitement of welcoming these magnificent animals to Washington. So we decided to scan our herd of partners, to see where else the mighty American bison are roaming among Affiliate plains. We found a virtual stampede of bison content in Affiliateland!

– It seems appropriate to start in Wyoming, at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. After all, it was “Buffalo Bill” Cody who offered the Smithsonian a herd of 18 bison in 1888. Painfully, the gift had to be refused for lack of space on the National Mall.  But today, you can find plenty of bison material at the Buffalo Bill Center in Cody. The Center’s museums house an impressive collection of art depicting “Nature’s Cattle,” including beautiful Audubon prints as well as Native artifacts made from the bison, and natural history specimens.

"Scout" at the Durham Museum in Omaha.

“Scout” at the Durham Museum in Omaha

– It was a Nebraska rancher who donated the very first bison to the Smithsonian’s collection, so it seems natural to travel on to Omaha to visit “Scout,” the beloved bison on view at the Durham Museum. At 7 ½’ high and 10’ long, this magnificent specimen helps to tell the important story of the Midwest’s history with the bison. As part of their bison interpretation, the Durham Museum uses the online resource Tracking the Buffalo from the National Museum of American History. Go ahead – take the site’s interactive test to guess what you could make from all the parts of the animal.

–  Some bison though, were revered beyond all that they could provide for Native people. A white bison is extremely rare, appearing once in approximately five million births. For this reason, these animals are considered sacred and possess great spiritual power to Native and non-Native people alike. Given this extreme rarity, where could you ever see one now?! The Montana Historical Society in Helena displays “Big Medicine,” a white buffalo who died in 1959. With blue eyes, tan hooves, and a brown topknot, there’s still plenty of reasons to revere the beauty of this extraordinary specimen today.

"White Medicine" on view at the Montana Historical Society

“Big Medicine” on view at the Montana Historical Society

– As rare as Big Medicine is, perhaps no bison has the hometown spirit of “On the Wind,” the massive bronze bison who greets visitors to the History Colorado Center in Denver. He’s been seen wearing bandannas when the stock show comes to town, a Broncos jersey during football season, and even a bike helmet during the recent Pro Challenge cycling race through the state. He’s also an important reminder of the stories told inside the Center about the historic relationship between bison and the peoples of the West.

– To travel even further back in time, check out the archeological remains of a gigantic Ice Age bison at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Excavated from the Colorado Rockies, this iconic specimen and its neighbors represent one of the most significant fossil discoveries ever made in Colorado.  How gigantic was it?  Twice the size of a modern bison!  How do we know?  It had a horn spread more than 7’ wide (compared with the 2 ½’ spread of the modern buffalo).

HistoryCObison

“On the Wind” in Denver reflects the community

– If you’re finding it hard to imagine the size of a modern bison without actually seeing one, the South Dakota State Historical Society can help you out.  They’ve devised a fun 30-page coloring sheet called How Big is a Buffalo. Bison make quite an appearance in the Society’s education kits, which include objects, lesson plans, worksheets and ideas for additional activities. The Buffalo and Plains Indians, Lewis and Clark, and Archeology kits are just a few that explore all facets of this great American species.

– Lest you think the Affiliate bison only roam west of the Mississippi, think again.  The Mashantucket Pequot Museum in Connecticut is currently displaying The Bison: American Icon exhibition, which explores “the dramatic changes that occurred to the bison and its habitat, and to the people who depended on it for their daily existence.” At the end of September, the Museum invites visitors to take the Bison Challenge – an outdoor activity that will test your speed, strength, and senses against the performance of a bison.  Good luck!

Bison: American Icon exhibit on view at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum

The Bison: American Icon exhibit on view at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum

As the song goes, “oh give me a home… “  It’s gratifying to see how many Affiliate “homes” across America celebrate the iconic bison, and that the Smithsonian will soon provide two of them a home in the nation’s capital.

How does your museum interpret the mighty bison? (We’re looking at you Idaho and Oklahoma)  Tell us your stories!

 

(Footnote:  “bison” and “buffalo” are often used interchangeably.  Culturally this is correct; scientifically it is not.  Technically, bison and buffalo are not the same animal. Click here to compare their differences.)

 

buffalomeThe author is a National Outreach Manager in Smithsonian Affiliations, and a long-time buffalophile.