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Road Report: The Biomuseo Grand Opening in Panama

National Outreach Manager Alma Douglas is on the road in Panama this week celebrating the grand opening of the new Frank Gehry-designed Biomuseo (which opened on September 30, 2014). Dr. Matthew Larsen, Sharon Ryan and Beth King of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute joined in celebrating. While on her travels, she shared some great photos of the opening ceremony!

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The colorful, Frank Gehry-designed museum which tells the story of Panama’s biological diversity from the formation of the isthmus of Panama over three million years ago.

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Maria del Pilar Aroseman de Aleman, president of the Biomuseo gave opening remarks and introduced the new president of Panama Juan Carlos Varela.  President Varela acknowledged the long history (more than 100 years) of the Smithsonian in Panama and the special relationship the Biomuseo has with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the research and scholarship that the Institute has made available to the Panamanian people. Bruce Mau and the team of exhibition designers were also in attendance.  At a gala later that evening, Dr. Matthew Larsen, presented the Biomuseo with a Certificate of Affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution.

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While in Panama, Alma had meetings with Dr. Larsen, STRI director, and with Public Programs Director Sharon Ryan at Punta Culebra, one of STRI’s education sites, and toured the exhibitions.  Not the best photo, but these are fossils found in Panama in a new exhibit by STRI at the Biomuseo.

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And this is Sharon Ryan getting a tour of the Biomuseo with Alma.

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And finally, everyone enjoying the Panamarama exhibit, a three-story projection space with ten screens will immerse the visitor in an audiovisual rendering of the natural marvels that compose all of Panama’s ecosystems.

 

Keep checking our blog for more Road Reports from Affiliateland!

Art, Community, and Culture on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Special thanks to Sharon Shaffer, Executive Director, Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, for this guest post.

Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art, Welcome Center

The Ohr O’Keefe Museum of Art (Gulfport, MS) tells three significant stories through its museum and collections. It is the museum design of Frank Gehry, the unparallelled collection of pottery by George Edgar Ohr, and the artifacts of freed slave and craftsman Pleasant Reed that tell important stories of culture and heritage in the Mississippi Coastal Region.

The Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (SEEC) partnered with the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art (OOMA) to bring these stories to area students through educational field guides, supported by an IMLS grant.  SEEC museum professionals–Sharon Shaffer, Betsy Bowers, and Anna Forgerson– authored the field guides, while OOMA professionals will vet, edit, and create the visual design for the materials.

The student field guides are specially designed for developmental levels (early elementary, upper elementary, middle school, and high school) with six individual experiences defined for each level.  Each set offers an introduction to the museum, an exploration of the work and life of George Ohr, Pleasant Reed, and Frank Gehry, and a culminating experience that looks at the intersection of these individuals.  The intens is to fully engage students to look, reflect, connect, relate, and imagine, in the galleries and then return to the classroom to extend learning with standards-based ideas provided in teacher’s guides.

"Blackberry Woman" by Richmond Barthe on loan to OOMA from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

A group of K-12 educators from local Mississippi schools serve on an educational planning committee and have offered an inside voice for the experiences crafted by SEEC educators.  They will also play a role in the two days of professional development that SEEC will lead at OOMA in January 2012.

Teachers are eager to begin using the new standards-based materials and the museum is excited to be able to serve area students through newly developed experiences that highlight the stories of their museum.  For all, particularly SEEC, this has been a labor of love… collaborating with exceptional museum professionals and dedicated classroom teachers to tell stories of Mississippi culture and heritage through the beauty of the museum.