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The Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion Highlights the Best of Affiliate – Smithsonian collaboration

Three people stand in front of an exhibition at its opening.

The director of the Peoria Riverfront Museum, community leader, and Affiliations Director Emeritus Harold Closter stand in front of the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion at its debut opening in Illinois in 2008.

During the Affiliations annual conference in 2007, an Affiliate director marveled at a red sandalwood carving on display in the Ripley Center on the Smithsonian’s campus. The structure was one-fifth scale model of the celebrated and intricate classical Chinese pavilion that stands within the Forbidden City in the heart of Beijing, the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion.

The director of Lakeview Museum (now Peoria Riverfront Museum in Illinois) had been exploring ways to connect with the local Chinese community and inquired about the availability of the exhibition. After a series of conversations with staff from the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute, the exhibition was approved for travel. This simple inquiry sparked a national tour that reached several Affiliate communities and connected with thousands of visitors.

What is the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion exactly? Made by Chinese artisans using traditional Chinese carving and fine furniture techniques, the model captures the beauty of the original pavilion, and is an outstanding example of traditional Chinese carving. Artisans at the China Red Sandalwood Museum constructed the model of red sandalwood, treasured for its dark glossy color and musty floral fragrance. No nails are used; the entire structure is put together with mortise-and-tenon joinery. The China Red Sandalwood Museum in Beijing donated the model to the Smithsonian.

Pieces of the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion are laid out on the floor prior to assembly.

The Pavilion’s thousands of pieces are unpacked from customized crates and laid out prior to assembly.

Obviously, the Pavilion was no ordinary exhibition. The model contains 3,000 individual pieces packed into special crates constructed specifically to fit each piece into its own slot. Design and installation advice was provided in both English and Mandarin, and the Smithsonian provided files of photo murals and bilingual labels for Affiliates’ use.

Still, the Pavilion’s specialized construction and installation required specialized expertise. In another stroke of collaboration serendipity, the former senior furniture conservator at the Museum Conservation Institute, Don Williams, was available to travel to Affiliate sites to both assemble and dissemble the Pavilion. In whichever Affiliate city Don traveled, he recruited volunteers from the “Professional Refinishers Group” from across the country to travel to Affiliate cities to assist with the installation.

Expert Smithsonian furniture conservator Don Williams dusts the roof of the Pavilion.

Senior Smithsonian furniture conservator Don Williams accompanied the Pavilion to all of its stops, overseeing installation and deinstallation.

 

 

A volunteer carefully installs the top piece of the Pavilion.

A volunteer expert carefully places the crowning decoration atop the Pavilion.

 

The Pavilion traveled to five Affiliates between 2008-2013. Its tour after Peoria included the International Museum of Arts and Sciences in McAllen and the Irving Arts Center in Irving, TX; Flushing Town Hall in Queens, New York; and the Headley-Whitney Museum, a former Affiliate in Lexington, KY;.

A child makes Chinese lanterns from art supplies.

Crafting Chinese lanterns was one of the many educational programs that Affiliates created to celebrate the Pavilion in their cities.

In every city that hosted the Pavilion, the Affiliate was able to craft significant and meaningful outreach to its Chinese community. Programming included traditional Chinese art workshops such as calligraphy and tea ceremony, as well as presentations on tai chi, traditional medicine, folklore and opera. For the Pavilion’s opening ceremonies, Affiliates invited the Chinese diplomats from their cities, and featured traditional dance troupes. Community relationships forged as a result of the Pavilion flourish still.

While in Flushing Queens, our collaboration saw yet another instance of serendipity. Volunteers assembled at Flushing Town Hall to unpack the Pavilion a day before Don Williams was able to arrive. They had some trouble deciphering the unpacking directions. Flushing Town Hall sits in the center of one of the largest Chinese immigrant communities in America, so a staff member suggested they seek the help of a local resident. A waiter from a nearby restaurant was recruited to translate the instructions from Mandarin so the team could lay out all the pieces to be ready when Don arrived.

Such is the magic—and impact—of Smithsonian and Affiliate collaborations.

The fully assembled Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion made from sandalwood.

The beautifully completed Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion in Flushing, New York (thanks in part to a waiter in a Chinese restaurant near the gallery!)

kudos Affiliates! february 2017

Congrats to these Affiliates on their recent accomplishments.

FUNDING

Union Station Kansas City (Kansas City, MO) received a $1 million gift for the creation of an outdoor concert and festival space from the Michael and Marlys Haverty Family Foundation. The landscaped festival plaza is part of the station’s nearly $8 million expansion that also includes a new traffic and pedestrian bridge. The gift will also be used to create an indoor gallery to house paintings depicting the 12 original railroads that formed a consortium to create Union Station in 1914.

Ball Brothers Foundation awarded $3.7 million in grants to nearly a dozen organizations including $25,000 to the Indiana Historical Society (Indianapolis, IN) for the Delaware County History Journeys project.

Conner Prairie Interactive History Park (Fishers, IN) received a $400,000 grant from Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation, to support a capital improvement project aimed at increasing energy efficiency at the park’s Welcome Center. The funds will be used to replace several aging HVAC air-handling units with high-efficiency units.

The founders of Ricker’s fuel and convenience stores pledged $500,000 to Conner Prairie to help restore the museum’s Chinese House, a historic venue on the property.

Wild Swan Theater announced a $29,200 grant award from the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) Charitable Foundation Fund of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. The funds will be used to develop, in collaboration with the Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, MI), an original, main stage and touring production for elementary school audiences inspired by Arab folktales-Marketplace Stories: Folktales from the Arab World.

Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), joined by the Board of Directors for the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, announced the allocation of $125,000 for renovations to Flushing Town Hall (Queens, NY).

The Kenosha City Council approved $500,000 for a new exhibit at the Kenosha Public Museum (Kenosha, WI). The second-floor “A World of Diversity” permanent exhibit will be redesigned to interweave with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) standards.

 The Kona Historical Society (Captain Cook, HI) has received a $28,000 grant from the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority (HTA) to expand its Hands On History program at Kona Coffee Living History Farm.

 

AWARDS and RECOGNITION

Kyle Wenger, Chief Financial Officer of Conner Prairie (Fishers, IN) has been name 2016 CFO of the Year by the Indianapolis Business Journal.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has given its Driehaus Preservation Award to the Charles W. Morgan whaling ship at Mystic Seaport (Mystic, CT).

Independent Sector, the only national membership organization that brings together nonprofits, foundations and corporations to advance the common good, announced its 2016-17 American Express NGen Fellows, which includes Devon Akmon, director of the Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, MI).  The 12 outstanding charitable-sector leaders aged 40 and under will engage over the next year in a range of activities that deepen individual capabilities, expand collective knowledge and grow professional networks.

President Barack Obama appointed Beth Takekawa, Executive Director of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (Seattle, WA) to the National Museum and Library Services Board.

 

LEADERSHIP and STAFF CHANGES

The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum (Palm Springs, CA) has hired Julia Bussinger, former director of the Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts in Texas, to be its new executive director.

 

 

Kudos- July/August 2016

Congrats to these Affiliates on their recent accomplishments!

Funding

The San Diego Air & Space Museum (San Diego, CA) recently selected 13 graduating seniors from San Diego County high schools to receive a total of $51,000 in scholarships. These scholarships are awarded annually to inspire young people to tackle the challenges of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics academic disciplines, and to make a difference in tomorrow’s world through an innovative, adventurous spirit.

Framingham State University (Framingham, MA) received $7,800 from The MetroWest Health Foundation for the development of programs and resources related to sexual violence education and prevention.

Duke Energy Foundation has awarded a $15,000 grant to Conner Prairie (Fishers, IN) to help establish a new maker’s program set to debut in phases starting later this year. The grant will help Conner Prairie develop and prototype programming, create temporary venues to implement and evaluate its programs and provide continued learning opportunities for teachers that focus on how the making movement supports STEM learning. The grant will also help the museum build a permanent maker space that will feature year-round programming and maker-oriented school programs that meet or exceed Indiana’s educational standards.

Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs through the Historical Resource Development Program awarded Dubuque Museum of Art (Dubuque, IA) $14,500 to help the museum conserve and exhibit a set of historic architectural drawings, created by renowned landscape architect Alfred Caldwell, of Eagle Point Park.

The Flushing Council on Culture and Arts, based in Flushing Town Hall (Flushing, NY), received nearly $600,000 in capital funding from the borough of Queens.

The Connecticut Humanities Council announced that Mystic Seaport (Mystic, CT) is the recipient of a $9,979 grant that will help the maritime museum establish two training programs for the museum staff. One program will explore methods of producing interpretive techniques while the other will encourage the use of evaluation for continuous improvement.

Awards and Recognition

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) announced the winners of the 71st annual Leadership in History Awards including the following Affiliate initiatives:

California African American Museum (Los Angeles, CA), Stephanie DeLancey, and dewdropstudios: for the exhibit Coloring Independently: 1940s African American Film Stills from the Collection of the California African American Museum.

HistoryMiami (Miami, FL) for the exhibit Operation Pedro Pan: The Cuban Children’s Exodus.

Indiana Historical Society (Indianapolis, IN) for the project Indiana History for the Secondary Classroom.

Montana Historical Society (Helena, MT) for the exhibit Forgotten Pioneers: The Chinese in Montana.

North Carolina Museum of History (Raleigh, NC) for the exhibit Starring North Carolina!

Greensboro Historical Museum (Greensboro, NC) for the exhibit Warnersville: Our Home, Our Neighborhood, Our Stories.

Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, PA) for the exhibit We Can Do It! WWII.

Birthplace of Country Music Museum (Bristol, TN) for the Birthplace of Country Music Museum permanent exhibits.

Museum of History & Industry (Seattle, WA) for the exhibit The Legacy of Seattle Hip-Hop.

The Antique Automobile Club of America Museum (Hershey, PA) received six NAAMY Awards during the National Association of Automobile Museums (NAAM) Conference in the following categories:

Second Place – Division II Newsletters & Magazines for the Reflections Newsletter publication intended to share information about the AACA Museum exhibits and activities with our members and donors.

Second Place – Division II Events & Public Promotions for the Back to the Future 30th Anniversary Tribute Car & Future Day promotional event.

Second Place – Division II Film & Video for the Motorbikes for the Masses exhibit promotional video hosted on the AACA Museum website and social media channels.

Second Place – Division II Educational Programs for the grade specific educational materials created by Lebanon Valley College Masters students inspired by AACA Museum exhibits.

Third Place – Division II Events and Public Promotions related to the 6th Annual Wedding Showcase event held in February.

Third Place – Division II Films & Video for the Lotus: The Art of Lightness video to promote the exhibit to visitors of the AACA Museum website.

The readers of Miami New Times have named The Wolfsonian (Miami Beach, FL) as Miami’s Best Museum of 2016!

The Honorable Dennis Ross (Florida) recognized in the Congressional Record, the Polk Museum of Art (Lakeland, FL) for its’ 50 years of service to the community.

The Mid-America Science Museum (Hot Springs, AR) is one of 10 recipients of the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community. For 22 years, the award has celebrated institutions that respond to societal needs in innovative ways, making a difference for individuals, families, and their communities.

Leadership and Staff Changes

Best wishes to President and chief executive, Stuart Ashman of the Museum of Latin American Art (Long Beach, CA) who announced he will be stepping down from his position in July to take a leadership position at the Center for Contemporary Arts Santa Fe in New Mexico.