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2011 Affiliations Conference Wrap-Up

Thank you to everyone who traveled to Washington, D.C. in June to join us for the Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference.   So much happened in just 3 short days! We don’t want anyone to feel left out, so we’ve created a conference recap and included links to important information you may have missed. 

Click here to view 2011 Conference photos on our Flickr site and add your own! 

Welcome Reception in the Smithsonian Castle Commons. Photo by Smithsonian Affiliations.

Day 1, Monday, June 13: The 2011 Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference opened with a bang at the Smithsonian Castle.  During Orientation in the Castle Library, attendees reunited with fellow Affiliates and met new staff members from recently affiliated organizations. Affiliations Director, Harold Closter, discussed the advantages of partnering with the Smithsonian.  Click here to view the Orientation session PowerPoint presentation. 

We wrapped-up the first day with a Welcome Reception in the Smithsonian Castle Commons. Special guest Sidney Mobell thanked Affiliates and the Smithsonian for hosting Jeweled Objects of Desire, a traveling exhibition based on his jeweled art creations, which over the years has traveled to six Affiliates and is in the National Gem Collection at the National Museum of Natural History. Interested in hosting the exhibition? Contact your National Outreach Manager.   

Photo by tony brown/imijphoto.com

Day 2, Tuesday, June 14:  Focusing on education at this year’s conference, we invited Claudine Brown, Assistant Secretary for Education and Access, to be our Keynote Speaker. She spoke on the future of education at the Smithsonian, the role of partnerships in advancing the work of Affiliates, and challenged Affiliates and the Smithsonian to expand education and access. “At the Smithsonian, our collections and exhibitions inspire. Our people teach and our programs help students apply what they have learned. We aspire to be a veritable educational engine, using the resources of America’s museum to create a stronger, better America for our children to inherit. Through our National Outreach Programs, we will expand our exhibition-based education programs to cities and towns across the country.” Click here to view Claudine Brown’s Keynote Address PowerPoint. 

Photo by tony brown/imijphoto.com

Following Claudine Brown’s keynote, attendees were invited to brainstorm collaborative ideas in education in the roundtable session What’s the Big Idea: Revitalizing Education Through Partnership and Collaboration. From education technology to dedicated spaces, early childhood education to programs in your own backyard, there was ample opportunity to discuss the “big ideas” and then share them at the end of the session. What was shared? Click here to find out. 

The afternoon was filled with sessions introducing new initiatives, increasing membership, expanding mobile platforms and STEAM programming. We wound down the day with a curator-led tour of the exhibition Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Warriors: A Photographic History by Gertrude Käsebier. 

Click on the links below for the PowerPoint presentations from each session:

An Introduction to “The Immigration Initiative: Exploring and Presenting America’s Cultural History of    Migration and Immigration.” –Fath Davis Ruffins, Curator of African American History and Culture, National Museum of American History 

Building and Increasing Membership: A Museum-Wide Approach—Christina Di Meglio Lopez, Business & External Affairs Manager, Smithsonian Affiliations; Meg Colafella, Director of Membership, Senator John Heinz History Center

You CAN Take It With You: A Practical Look at All Things Mobile—Nancy Proctor, Head of Mobile Strategy & Initiatives, Smithsonian Institution 

Success with Science: New Approaches for New Audiences—Tricia Edwards, Education Specialist, Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, National Museum of American History; Judy Brown, Senior Vice President, Programs, Miami Science Museum. 

Photo by tony brown/imijphoto.com

Day 3, Wednesday, June 15: The final day of the conference may have been the most exciting of the three days! National Museum of the American Indian Chef Richard Hetzler started the day off with a cooking demonstration and book signing of his cookbook, The Mitsitam Café Cookbook.  After the demonstration, several Affiliate attendees shared how they use food to connect with their visitors and Chef Hetzler was enthusiastic about traveling to Affiliate venues for cooking demonstrations and book signings. Want to book Chef Hetzler? Contact your National Outreach Manager.

Following breakfast, conference attendees met with Smithsonian staff at four museums—National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of American History, National Museum of African Art, and National Museum of Natural History—to get a behind-the-scenes look at the Smithsonian loan process. Have a loan policy question? Contact your National Outreach Manager.

In the afternoon, attendees hopped on a bus and took a guided tour of the Anacostia neighborhood before meeting with staff at the Anacostia Community Museum to discuss museum issues at the community level and get a guided tour of the exhibition Word, Shout, Song. 

And to top it all off, senators, representatives and Capitol Hill staffers joined Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough and Affiliates at the congressional reception at the Rayburn House Office Building.   

Browse through our conference guidebook here. 

Have questions about any of the sessions? Want to contact a Smithsonian staff member from the Resource Fair, or another Affiliate you met during the Conference? Contact your National Outreach Manager who will be happy to assist you!

Here’s what Affiliates said about the conference: 

“It was positively exhilarating!”—Natalie De Riso, Community Programs Manager, Heinz History Center 

“Thank you so much for an excellent Smithsonian affiliation conference, we all came back full of ideas and inspiration!”—Carmen Fishler, Director, Universidad del Turabo 

“I brought back a lot of great ideas and contacts. I think the most important thing I came away from the conference with is a renewed feeling of excitement. It was inspiring to see all the good work people are doing both at the Smithsonian, and at all the sibling museums. Altogether an excellent experience and I’m looking forward to next year.”—David Unger, Director of Interpretation, American Textile History Museum 

“I thought it was an excellent conference and a great introduction to the Affiliates program.  Thanks for all the efforts everyone made to have a successful conference.”—Will Ticknor, Director of Museums, City of Las Cruces

 

what’s the big [education] idea?

In keeping with this year’s education theme at the annual Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference, we’ll be hosting a series of roundtable discussions in a session titled “What’s the Big Idea: Revitalizing Education Through Partnership and Collaboration.” 

 This dynamic session will follow a format well-known to most  museum professionals.  Smithsonian colleagues from across the Institution will present at their tables for 10 minutes each about their current projects, with the express goal of encouraging ideas for collaboration or input from Affiliates.  After the talks, all participants at the table – Smithsonian and Affiliate staff – will be encouraged to brainstorm ideas and next steps on ways to participate, partner, or stay in touch as projects develop.  During the last half hour, we’ll ask a representative from each table to “share out” so everyone in the room can reap the benefits of every table’s discussion.

Each table represents a theme that Smithsonian educators are thinking and talking about at our own meetings and workshops.  The Smithsonian educators form an array of content across art, science and history, and will be addressing the following themes:

  • Education technology
  • Dedicated spaces for education
  • Citizen Science/Citizen History programs
  • Early Childhood Education in museums
  • You + Your Schools + the Smithsonian. 

Affiliate conference attendees are encouraged to consider the project descriptions attached here, and to join that table that best aligns with their home museum’s strengths and interests.

We anticipate a lively and fruitful discussion, and hope to see you there!    

announcing the 2011 affiliations conference keynote speaker

CLAUDINE K. BROWN NAMED KEYNOTE SPEAKER OF 2011 AFFILIATIONS NATIONAL CONFERENCE

Claudine Brown, Assistant Secretary for Education and Access

We are pleased to announce that Claudine K. Brown, the Smithsonian’s Assistant Secretary for Education and Access will provide the keynote speech on June 14 at the 2011 Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference, underscoring the centrality of education and the role of partnerships in advancing the Smithsonian’s mission.  Appointed in June 2010 to this newly established position, Brown serves as the overall leader of educational initiatives at the Smithsonian and coordinates the efforts of 32 education-based offices in museums and science centers.

Brown had been the director of the arts and culture program at the Nathan Cummings Foundation in New York since 1995.   In 1990, she joined the Smithsonian to serve as director of the National African-American Museum Project and in1991 she also became the deputy assistant secretary for the arts and humanities, developing policy for many Smithsonian museums.

Prior to her earlier work at the Smithsonian, Brown held several positions at The Brooklyn Museum:  museum educator, manager of school and community programs, and assistant director for government and community programs.  For more than 20 years, Brown served as a faculty advisor and instructor in the Leadership in Museum Education Program at Bank Street Graduate School of Museum Education in New York City, giving her the opportunity to work with some of the pre-eminent museum evaluators, educators and thinkers in the field.

Following Brown’s speech, conference attendees and Smithsonian educators will join in a series of roundtable discussions to identify potential areas of collaboration.

View the Smithsonian Affiliations Conference web page for further announcements.

lisa falk: summer at the smithsonian

We invited our recent Smithsonian Affiliate interns and visiting professionals to blog about their experiences in our “Summer at the Smithsonian” series. Below, Lisa Falk, Director of Education at Arizona State Museum (Tucson), describes her residency at the Smithsonian. Special thanks to Lisa for this post!

As I crisscrossed the Mall and marched to Smithsonian sites beyond, I clutched my cell phone and lugged my laptop, always mobile and ready for my daily Smithsonian adventure. The Smithsonian is embracing mobile technologies as it strives to serve visitors in their museums and in cyberspace. My Visiting Professional residency provided me the contacts and time to learn about the ways the Smithsonian is engaging visitors through digital means as well as some more low-tech “human” engagements in their halls.

Each week I visited different museums and spoke with my colleagues about their work. Days were filled with talking, observing, and playing. As I texted my way through museum exhibits, playing several digital games and even creating some, I realized that cell phones are more than devices for making calls on; at the Smithsonian they became guides for discovery. With so many excited educators working with content managers and web and mobile developers, many new ways to experience the resources of the museums are being developed and tested. It was exciting to be around so much spark! 

Week One: National Museum of the American Indian, D.C. and NYC. 
In D.C. I learned about their Cultural Interpreter program that has Native educators work with visitors on the floor giving tours, demonstrations, and instruction for hands-on crafts projects (I learned to weave a basket!) among many other exciting initiatives. 

At NMAI in NYC I visited exhibits and spoke with staff about film programming. Arizona State Museum already collaborates on our Native Eyes Film Showcase with NMAI and this gave me the opportunity to learn a bit more about what they do and plan for our next festival. I tested a new text messaging quiz initiative their visitor services manager is offering to attract more Latino visitors to NMAI’s galleries. It has spurred an idea for a text messaging quiz I want to develop in conjunction with a new exhibit opening at ASM this fall. 

Week two: Smithsonian Affiliates Conference and Mobile Media Learning workshops 
During the Affiliations National Conference, I heard and saw a lot! As my focus is digital, the high point for me was playing the Ghosts of a Chance game with my peers. We interacted together in the galleries at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and talked with a developer about how the game was created. We dashed through the halls discovering clues from art works, computer collection information, and even made tin foil sculptures. I think I saw more of the museum in one visit than I ever have before! 

At the Mobile Media workshops, we used Nokia phones to photograph objects and add augmented reality information to them, i.e.: we created short video that added meaning to the objects. It was good to have hands-on time actually trying to create using cell phone technology and to work with other peers as we questioned not only how the technology worked, but how we could use it, and how youth might interact with it. 

Week Three: National Museum of American History 
The high point was talking with Xavier Carnegie, Actor and Trainer for museum theater programs. He spoke about the power of theater to emotionally involve visitors with the history and ideas behind museum objects. Observing him in two different on-floor drama presentations was powerful. 

Week Four: Meetings with digital media strategists and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival 
I hopped around this week, gleaning knowledge from different sources. At the American Art Museum I further explored the digital media text messaging scavenger hunts in the Luce gallery as well as cell phone audio tours, and old-fashioned paper-based treasure hunts. 

At National Museum of Natural History I enjoyed talking with staff about how they approach the use of digital media, particularly with their Facebook page. They see the Facebook page as a very interactive program where they disseminate information, questions, and encourage comments and questions. 

The highlight at NMNH was my meeting with Robert Costello who developed a web comic to go with the Written in Bone exhibit. I’m also trying to develop a web comic so it was great to talk with a colleague who had already done the research on youth use of such a tool and had evaluation notes showing how people were using it (more adults then youth seem to use it!). 

On my last day, in honor of my explorations, I was invited to moderate a panel about digital media at the Smithsonian on one of the stages at the Folklife Festival. Smithsonian staff spoke about how their jobs had changed over time and how they were approaching making their resources available using digital media. The audience expressed interest in access to content and images and applauded their efforts. 

During my residency I was all over the place, but it was a great! The connecting strand was audience involvement with Smithsonian resources and using digital media to engage and reach out. My SI colleagues were inviting, open, and encouraging. Their work is inspiring and has given me many ideas and broadened my understanding of the possibilities and some of the difficulties in creating digital and face-to-face museum interactions! I look forward to sharing what I learned with my ASM colleagues and trying out some of the Smithsonian approaches.

conference extra! FREE mobile media workshops for Affiliates

mobile-learning-instituteThe Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies (SCEMS), with sponsorship from Pearson Foundation and Nokia, is offering free mobile media learning workshops June 16- 18, 2010 after the Affiliations National Conference.  Affiliates are the first to have the opportunity to sign up to attend these free day-long mobile media learning workshops.  Extend your conference stay with these bonus workshops!

Click here to register. 

Leadership Summit Digital Media
Wednesday, June 16
10 am to 4:00 pm
Free to Affiliates 

The summit brings leaders in digital media together with school and museum decision makers. Participants will explore current research and effective practices in the educational use of social networks, cell phones, and social-media-based games and applications.  They will engage in digital media activities, view short media presentations, and discuss digital media in their own context and its potential to bring new life to learning.

Mobile Learning Workshop
Thursday, June 17, and Friday, June 18
10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Free to Affiliates

Learn to use digital media to engage young people with the tools they are already using in their lives outside of school. You’ll create media projects based on Smithsonian resources-digital tours, podcasts, wikis, and more. During the workshops, participants will collaborate with content experts from the Smithsonian and digital media experts from Pearson Foundation and Nokia to create new approaches for reaching today’s students.  The programs will make it possible to test and share how to use mobile technology in a museum setting.

affiliates, want to play with MIT?

Kids playing at the Natural History Museum's Fossil Lab

@ the Smithsonian's Fossil Lab

The educational game designers at MIT’s Education Arcade have been working with Smithsonian scientists and educators to create an online curated game for middle school students to be played over six weeks in the spring of 2011.

 

In the game, players will receive encoded messages from scientists in the far future.  These scientists are writing because much of the scientific record has been destroyed.  Through scientific reasoning, research and exploratory challenges at museums, online collaboration with other players, and online experiment simulations, players unravel a multilayered mystery about the possible future of our earth – a science fiction scenario that incorporates very real environmental issues and natural science.

Players will explore, hypothesize, and test in the areas of cryptography, mathematics, anthropology, astronomy, climatology, zoology, environmental science, paleontology, archeology, and forensics.

 

How can Affiliates play?  During several weeks, players will be encouraged to collect “clues” – many of which can come from the Affiliate network.  Affiliates are encouraged to participate at any number of levels – from minimal to fully engaged.  Here are some examples of Affiliate involvement:

 

  • Encourage your Museum’s after-school club to play the game or distribute information sheets to your teacher constituents to encourage their students to play.
  • Distribute a “clue” at your front desk to visitors who provide a particular password.
  • Discuss any relevant exhibits or collections you have with the game designers, so that they may possibly be included in the game itself.
  • Maintain a “drop box,” placing items (hidden clues!) in a Tupperware box on your property for gamers to find.
  • Host a dedicated treasure-hunt style challenge in conjunction with the game.

The game hopes to drive student players and their families to their local Affiliate museums, to discover the resources in their own backyards that unlock the mystery of the future.  

 

Interested in more information or how to sign up?  Contact Jennifer Brundage, National Outreach Manager at 202.633.5306 or brundagej@si.edu.  Game designers will also be discussing this opportunity at the Affiliations Annual Conference – hope to see you there!