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Kudos Affiliates! May 2021

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

FUNDING

The Minnesota Historical Society announced the newest recipients of 30 Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Small Grants including The Bakken Museum (Minneapolis, MN). The Museum received $9,994 to process the Earl Bakken Legacy Collection, allowing for greater public access to these resources. The Bakken Museum will also be a core research partner as part of a $1.5 million grant awarded to Binghamton University faculty. The grant will help improve makerspace learning for youth.

Frank Leta Honda has donated two new 2020 Honda Odyssey minivans to the Saint Louis Science Center (Saint Louis, MO) to transport Youth Exploring Science (YES) Program teens and Science Center educators to events during the summer as COVID-19 safety protocols allow. The YES Program was founded to help teens, particularly those from underserved communities, to recognize their potential in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) career fields.

Framingham State University (Framingham, MA) has been awarded a $62,250 grant from the Massachusetts Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) to coordinate a multi-day Racial Equity Policy Review Institute. Designed for up to 150 leaders within the campus community, participants will gain a better understanding of systemic racism in higher education and how it manifests on campus, be able to define what a racist policy is and how it shows up in student outcomes, and create an initial yearlong plan to undertake policy review.

History Colorado (Denver, CO), Hagley Museum (Wilmington, DE) and USS Constitution Museum  (Boston, MA) were among several Affiliates awarded humanity grants from The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Grant awards support the preservation of historic collections, humanities exhibitions and documentaries, scholarly research, and curriculum projects.

  • History Colorado was awarded a Media Projects Production grant for $310,536 to support the production of the Lost Highways Podcast series, an eight-episode offering focused on Colorado and Western history. History Colorado also received an Exhibitions-Implementation grant for $400,000 for The Sand Creek Massacre Exhibition. The permanent exhibition details the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre of Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal members.
  • Hagley Museum and Library ($194,400) and Center for Jewish History (New York, NY) ($153,292), each received a Fellowship Programs grant. The grants will support 12 months of stipend support for 1–3 fellowships per year for two to three years.
  • USS Constitution Museum will receive a Dialogues on the Experience of War grant for $96,264 to develop Sailors Speak: The Impact of War on Naval Veterans, their Families, and the Country. The award will be used for the training of facilitators to lead three discussion series for naval veterans and their families, based on historical documents and material culture from the War of 1812 and the post-9/11 wars.
  • City Lore (New York, NY) was awarded an Exhibitions-Planning grant for $75,000 to create a traveling exhibit about the 1970s Federal Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA), that provided work for artists.
  • American Jewish Historical Society (New York City, NY), part of the Center for Jewish History, received $131,681 for a Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant for The People’s Relief Committee Project to preserve and digitize materials that document the work of the People’s Relief Committee for Jewish War Sufferers (1915–1924), an American Jewish organization that sought to help Jewish communities and individuals in Europe during and after World War I.

The Rhode Island Historical Society (Providence, RI) received a donation of $50,000 from Walmart to pay for the creation of a curriculum to teach Black history and heritage in the local schools. The curriculum will include lesson plans, teacher training, and virtual learning tools.

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

The Rockwell Museum (Corning, NY) announced Janelle Steiner, events coordinator, and Kate Swanson, interpretation and public engagement educator, have been selected to participate in The Museum Association of New York’s (MANY) “Building Capacity, Creating Sustainability, Growing Accessibility” program. The IMLS Cares Act grant project is designed to help museums impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic share their collections and reach audiences who cannot physically visit their museums. In this two-year program, museums will identify an event or project to deliver virtually to their audiences, focusing on developing programs from stories found in their collections that reveal cultural and racial diversity in their communities.

LEADERSHIP

Stephanie Haught Wade was named the new director of Historic Arkansas Museum (Little Rock, AR). Wade has been a historian with the Department of Arkansas Heritage since 2017, where she managed the Arkansas Historical Marker Program and was a member and administrator of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemoration Committee. She began work on April 5.

visiting Affiliate artifacts… in Washington

In Affiliations, we like to say that our partnerships are two-way streets. We learn as much from our Affiliates as we share. Our Affiliate partners lend ideas, energy and expertise not only to the Smithsonian, but to each other. They also lend artifacts, and often, the very best, rare ones they have in their collections.

Recently, I took an afternoon out of the office to visit the handful of loans currently on view from our Affiliate partners to the Smithsonian. What better pleasure to run in to our Affiliate friends across the country than by discovering pieces from their collections here in Washington?!

A case featuring inductees to the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

A case featuring inductees to the National Inventors Hall of Fame

My first stop on this walkabout was the National Museum of American History and its newly-opened innovation wing. The Inventing in America exhibition features a case that honors inductees to the National Inventors Hall of Fame, our Affiliate in Canton, OH. Visitors can marvel at a selection of inventions made by some of the 500 men and women who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and learn about inventions such as the first intravascular stent from 1984, 3M sticky notes, the first digital camera from 1975, and the 1976 Apple computer.

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Descriptions of the inventions of Hall of Fame inductees

Notably, the case explains the invention of Kevlar, the high strength fabric (used for example, in bullet-proof vests) invented by Stephanie Kwolek in 1965 while she worked at DuPont. Luckily, our Delaware Affiliate, the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, has an extensive collection of material about Kevlar (including Kwolek’s papers) and lent two artifacts from their collection to bring her story to life.

I wandered over to the National Portrait Gallery to see its Dark Fields of the Republic: Alexander Gardner Photographs, 1859-1872 exhibition. At one time, Gardner worked for the famous photographer Matthew Brady before casting out as an influential documentarian in his own right. The profound Civil War-era images on view in these galleries are haunting still. Among them are important works from three Smithsonian Affiliates.

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Field of Antietam photo book on loan from the National Civil War Museum

The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA lent a photographic book titled the Field of Antietam from 1962. Before photomechanical reproduction, books like this one were made by printing each of the original photographs by hand, adhering them to mounts, and binding them as a book. Knowing this process makes the book feel all that more special.

Our Affiliate in Indianapolis, the Indiana Historical Society lent chilling images of the executions of the Lincoln assassination conspirators. Notably, Alexander Gardner was the only photographer allowed to document the hangings, and his position on the wall of the prison grants a panoramic view that is searing and unforgettable.

Sketchbook of the War, on loan from the Western Reserve Historical Society

Gardner’s Photographic Sketchbook of the War, on loan from the Western Reserve Historical Society

Finally, the Western Reserve Historical Society, our Affiliate in Cleveland, OH also lent several works to the exhibition, including what feels like an incongruous view of a picnic in the woods. Alas, one discovers its main subject is Walt Whitman, who lived in Washington, D.C. for part of the war, writing letters for injured soldiers. It’s an unsettling yet bucolic image among the battlefields represented on the walls around it. Another impressive loan is Gardner’s Photographic Sketchbook of the War in two volumes. This large-scale folio published in 1866 features 100 images from Gardner’s vast collection that successfully distill the chronological narrative of the war in a meaningful and emotional way.

Finally, I ended my excursion at the Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian. This retrospective – her first major one – traces the artistic journey of WalkingStick, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Emerging from the art world of New York in the 1960-70s, the show traces her 40+ year career from early figurative work through her famous diptychs to recent paintings of monumental landscapes with symbolic references to their Native links.

Three Affiliates are represented in this exhibition as well. One of our newest, The Rockwell Museum in Corning, NY lent a diptych, Letting Go/From Chaos to Calm from 1990. These rich paintings of mixed dry media on sculptmetal juxtapose the figurative and abstract, the visual and visceral in stimulating and thought-provoking ways.

Visitors can leaf through a touchable version of WalkingStick's artist book, on loan from the Heard Museum.

Visitors can leaf through a touchable version of WalkingStick’s artist book, on loan from the Heard Museum

The Heard Museum in Phoenix, AZ (where the show will travel after Washington) lent two works. One canvas, Cardinal Points from 1983-85, uses acrylic paint and saporified wax to achieve a textured and active surface that rewards prolonged study. Her artist book on loan from the Heard contrasts depictions of herself with the kinds of stereotypical comments about her identity that continue to plague Native people. (Flip through the book here.)

Finally, the Denver Art Museum lent a commanding diptych of a different style, Farewell to the Smokies from 2007. This oil painting on wood blends two views of a majestic mountain landscape, with silhouettes of figures walking across their base. It’s a powerful reminder of Native history, and at the same time, of the indelible legacy of Native peoples on the American landscape.

Thank you Affiliates, for all the ways that you enrich the Smithsonian!

Farewell to the Farewell to the Smokies, 2007. Oil on wood panel, 36 x 72 x 1 in. Denver Art Museum: William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen Collection, 2008.14. Photo courtesy of the Denver Art Museum

Farewell to the Smokies, 2007. Oil on wood panel, 36 x 72 x 1 in. Denver Art Museum: William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen Collection, 2008.14. Photo courtesy of the Denver Art Museum

 

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