Happy new year! We may still feel cold, but events are heating up at Affiliates across the country.
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
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
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.
The Orange County Regional History Center opens the SITES’ exhibition Things Come Apart in Orlando, 2.10.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Congrats to these Affiliates on their recent accomplishments.
The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania (Strasburg, PA) has met a $50,000 matching grant challenge by the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society, with funds designated for the preservation of five historic Pennsylvania Railroad steam locomotives.
The National Park Service (NPS) announced funding for 39 projects in over 20 states that will preserve and highlight the sites and stories associated with the Civil Rights Movement and the African American experience, including the following Affiliate organizations:
- Ohio History Connection (Columbus, OH) $50,000
20th Century African American Civil Rights Movement in Ohio: Evaluating and Nominating Historic Properties
- Rhode Island Historical Society (Providence, RI) $49,557
African-American Struggle for Civil Rights in Rhode Island: The 20th Century
- Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, AL) $47,000
Preserving History, Building Community” project. This project will focus on the A.G. Gaston Motel as a case study for preservationists and the community to work in partnership to preserve and revitalize a historic civil rights site.
Lowell National Historical Park (Lowell, MA) in partnership with Lowell Community Health Center, Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association, City of Lowell Senior Center, Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter School, and YWCA of Lowell has been selected to receive a 2017 Active Trails grant from the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks. The Discover Lowell’s Urban Trails initiative will offer new outdoor recreational programming to Lowell’s canalway trails and will be targeted toward non-users in adjacent neighborhoods.
The Kenosha Community Foundation has awarded 26 grants totaling over $51,000 to 22 non-profit organizations and projects serving Kenosha County residents including funding to the Kenosha Public Museum Foundation (Kenosha, WI) to support its upcoming “Re-Riding History: From the Southern Plains to Matanzas Bay” exhibit, which features how contemporary art retraces the historical experiences of American Indian communities.
Former cable TV mogul John Sie and his wife Anna have donated $12 million for the construction of a new welcome center at the Denver Art Museum (Denver, CO). The new welcome center is part of the museum’s plans to renovate the North Building. When it’s completed, the new welcome center will include a restaurant, café, ticketing and orientation space, event space, underground art storage and the museum’s conservation lab.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
The Durham Museum (Omaha, NE) housed in Omaha’s Union Station was designated as one of 24 new National Historic Landmarks by the Department of Interior.
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, AL) was recently designated by Former President Barack Obama as part of a new Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument. Along with BCRI, other sites designated as the monument include the A. G. Gaston Motel, 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, and Bethel Baptist Church.
The Hawaii State House of Representatives presented Kona Historical Society (Kona, HI) with a certificate of honor on its 40th anniversary for efforts to preserve local history and share Kona’s culture with residents and visitors.
California African American Museum (Los Angeles, CA) deputy director Naima J. Keith has been named the winner of the High Museum of Art’s David C. Driskell Prize, which is awarded annually to a scholar or artist who has made a major contribution to African American art history.
Spring is stirring, and so are Affiliates with fresh activity!
National Museum of American History curator Shannon Perich will give a lecture on popular culture in the 1970s at the Durham Museum to complement the SITES exhibition currently on view, Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project, in Omaha, 3.21.
National Portrait Gallery curator Taína Caragol will lecture on Dolores Huerta for Women’s History Month at the Rhode Island Historical Society in Providence, 3.23.
The Rockwell Museum continues with its Smithsonian Speaker Series with a talk by Adriel Luis of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, in Corning, 3.23.
National Museum of American History conservator Sunae Park Evans will speak on conserving First Ladies gowns at the Long Island Museum to complement the exhibition Brilliant Partners: Judith Leiber’s Handbags and the Art of Gerson Leiber, featuring the loan of Mamie Eisenhower’s purse from the Smithsonian, in Stony Brook, 3.26.
Rahim Al Haj, Smithsonian Folkways performer and oud player, presents Letters from Iraq at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, 3.24.
The Michigan State University Museum will host a workshop on the Will to Adorn initiative of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in East Lansing, 3.30.
Members of the Smithsonian will enjoy lunch and tours at the B & O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, 3.30.
Is the Smithsonian in your neighborhood? Probably so! These Affiliates are bringing the Smithsonian to communities across the U.S. in February!
National Museum of American History Curator, Paula Johnson, travels to the North Carolina Museum of History for a public program about Julia Child’s kitchen, in Raleigh, 2.2.
Staff from Smithsonian Affiliations and the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation celebrate the opening of Spark!Lab at the Children’s Museum of the Upstate, in Greenville, 2.4
Affiliations Director Harold Closter will be on hand to announce the Smithsonian’s new affiliation with the Schingoethe Center of Aurora University, in Aurora, 2.7.
Smithsonian Science Education Center Director Carol O’Donnell talks about the current state of STEM education at Space Center Houston, in Houston, 2.9.
The Durham Museum opens Searching for the Seventies: The Documerica Photography Project, a SITES exhibition, in Omaha, 2.18
The Rockwell Museum presents its Smithsonian Speakers Series featuring Michelle Wilkinson, curator at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Corning, 2.21.
Students from nine Smithsonian Affiliate communities will host public programs at the National Air and Space Museum as part of the Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos National Youth Summit, in Washington, D.C., 2.22-23.
Special screenings of the original Smithsonian Channel program, The Obama Years: The Power of Words, will take place at multiple Affiliates in February during Black History Month, some with Smithsonian National Museum of American History Curator of Political History Claire Jerry:
At the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, in Baltimore, 2.9.
At History Colorado, in Denver, 2.13.
At the African American Museum in Philadelphia, in Philadelphia, 2.15.
At the Museum of History and Industry, in Seattle, 2.22.
At the Senator John Heinz History Center, in Pittsburgh, 2.23.
At the Western Reserve Historical Society, in Cleveland, 2.24.
Last Chance at Affiliates:
Things Come Apart, a SITES exhibit, closes on 2.19 at the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville.
Greensboro Historical Museum closes I want the Wide American Earth, also a SITES exhibit, on 2.26, in Greensboro.
Special thanks for this guest post to Amy Henderson,Â National Portrait Gallery’s historian emerita. AmyÂ is a cultural historian specializing in â€œthe lively artsâ€â€”particularly media-generated celebrity culture. Her books and exhibitions run the gamut from the pioneers in early broadcasting to Elvis Presley, Katharine Hepburn and Katharine Graham.
In the late 1980s, I met writer-director Garson Kanin at a Washington dinner party, and he set the stage for one of my happiest adventures as a cultural historian at the National Portrait Gallery. When I discovered that Garson, who wrote and directed all of the Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy movies, lived next door to Herself in New York, I whined until he promised to give me her address. My excuse? The Portrait Gallery needed a fine portrait of the iconic actress!
Garsonâ€™s introduction worked, and I got to know Miss Hepburn in the late â€˜80s and early â€˜90s. I would have coffee and cookies with her when I traveled to New York, and we always went on an exploration of all the portraits she kept in her townhouse; there were a lot, since she had known artists her entire life.
She mentioned â€œall the costumesâ€ on the upper floor, but I never got a glimpse. Now, thanks to the Durham Museum in Omaha, the costumes are on full view. â€œKatharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screenâ€ is drawn from the Kent State Museumâ€™s Hepburn Costume Collection, and features more than 35 costumes worn in 21 films and 6 stage productionsâ€”and some of her private life clothes.
Mick Hale, Director of Education at the Durham, heard that I had curated a 2007 Portrait Gallery exhibition celebrating Hepburnâ€™s centennial, and invited me to speak about her life in conjunction with the Durhamâ€™s costume show. I eagerly accepted, and spoke at this Smithsonian Affiliate in April. Talking about her life, I focused mainly on Hepburnâ€™s remarkable ability to fashion her own image, even in the heyday of the Hollywood studio system when studios configured their stars to reflect their own particular movie â€œbrand.â€Â E.g., Warner Bros. had a â€œMurderersâ€™ Rowâ€ of gangsters, while MGM boasted â€œall the stars in the heavens.â€
The Durham has been a Smithsonian Affiliate since 2002, and Mick Hale estimates that they have hosted 25 or so traveling exhibitions such as the Hepburn costumes. Other recent speakers have included Mike Neufeld from the National Air and Space Museum, who spoke about the Apollo 8 mission during the Durhamâ€™s â€œ1968â€ exhibition; and SmithsonianÂ Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture, Richard Kurin, who shared his stories about 101 SmithsonianÂ artifacts last Fall when the Durham hosted the Franklin Instituteâ€™s traveling exhibit â€œIdentity: An Exhibition of You.â€
My visit was enormous fun. First, the museum itself is lodged in what had been a stunning Art Deco train station that opened in 1931; lofty ceilings and a sense of bustle create an instantly uplifting â€œwowâ€ museum experience. Second, for me it was great to see the costumes Hepburn wore during her long stage and screen career. Her waist was TINYâ€”20â€â€”and it was fascinating to see costumes from such landmark performances as the Broadway version of the Philadelphia Story. I also lingered over the section that spotlighted her impeccably tailored tan slacks, of which she had dozens.
My visit came at the end of Mick Haleâ€™s tenure as education director at the Durham. After ten years, he is heading toward new challenges, directing a leadership initiative in Lincoln. But his dynamic partnership with the Smithsonian will remain firmly rooted at the Durham. â€œThe museum and I are very proud of what we have done with the Smithsonian,â€ he told me, â€œand I know the quality work and collaboration will continue for a long time.â€
In 46 states, Puerto Rico, and Panama, there are over 200 Smithsonian Affiliate organizations all working together to preserve our heritage, expand knowledge, and inspire learning.