Tag Archive for: Museum of the Rockies

Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2012: Dinosaur Dig

Special thanks to Smithsonian Affiliations intern, Neema Amadala (University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada), for this guest post.

In contrast to the University of Illinois’ cool, canopied hard-court, Lisa and I stumbled back in time to a dinosaur dig. It was a 100 degree day (or 38°C for those of us metrically inclined) and perhaps an inopportune time to be outside digging for dinosaurs. In my opinion, the best part of being a Smithsonian Affiliations intern is meeting the Affiliates: seeing the dedication they have to their projects is wonderful. For this reason, I hoped to meet a celebrity of sorts, Dr. Alan Grant of Jurassic Park fame. Not the fictional character but Dr. Jack Horner on whom Sam Neill’s character in the trilogy was the partial inspiration for and paleontological advisor to. To my chagrin, Dr. Horner had left the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival but there were still dinosaurs to discover.

Visitors watching intently at the preparation of a specimen. Photo courtesy Smithsonian Affiliations.

On this particular dig, we were under the cover of the Museum of the Rockies (MOR), a Smithsonian Affiliate in Bozeman, Montana. I watched as children and adults wandered in, fascinated as always, by these prehistoric creatures who we discover anew every day. Festival goers could choose to conduct their own dinosaur dig, learn how casting a fossil works, watch a member of the Field Crew prepare a specimen for the lab or just learn more about Montana’s prehistoric past. Everyone on the dig was engaged and the wealth of experience and excitement MOR brought to the Folklife Festival was visible on the faces of all who passed through on the dig.

Lisa Lundgren, with MOR’s educational team, helped visitors learn about the history not just beneath the soil of Montana’s badlands but visible in its multicolored sedimentary strands. Explaining MOR’s own connection and contribution to fossil history Lisa and I were introduced to Maiasaura or ‘good mother lizard’: a giant dinosaur that unlike its contemporaries raised and fed their hatchlings. There were plenty of tactile and visual aids to keep us engaged and connected to the subject matter and like the children around me, I relished my time with the dinos.

Smithsonian Affiliations intern Lisa Hung with Lisa Lundgren from Affiliate, Museum of the Rockies. Photo courtesy Smithsonian Affiliations.

This time travelling experience showcased the expertise and knowledge that Affiliates can bring to the Smithsonian. Being an Affiliate can be about more than the loaning of artifacts, there can be an exchange of programs and expertise along with interaction with the community at large. Not only did the Festival provide exposure to visitors about Montana’s primordial past, perhaps embedding MOR as a potential stop on a future trip, but also enriched the learning experience that the Smithsonian seeks to provide to all.

see for yourself: a conference adventure

Many thanks to Natalie DeRiso, Community Programs Manager at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for this guest blog post. 

As I sat down to write this blog post about attending my first annual Smithsonian Affiliations Conference, I tried to take mental stock of all the amazing things I wanted to talk about. I hemmed and hawed for a few days trying to decide what would be the most interesting to everyone reading. I thought about all I had learned just from the other attendees: the absolutely marvelous space camp program at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson; or the fact that Museum of the Rockies in Montana has one of the best dinosaur collections in the world including 12 T-Rex skeletons. There is a fabulous new facility, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, with a hands-on room that allows artists of all levels to try out instruments from around the world; and that the Las Cruces Museum System in New Mexico is way ahead of schedule in creating a new LEED-certified facility for their Science and History Museum. In fact I could probably fill multiple posts talking about all of the creative, brilliant people I met at the conference.

I could also go on for ages about the conference itself. The Smithsonian’s focus on education was invigorating, especially for a community program manager in the education department of her museum, the Heinz History Center. Every session I attended gave me something new to chew on, and pushed me to move out of my comfort zone when thinking about education in my community programs. I had a light bulb go off at one point on the most basic aspect of my job, and was slightly embarrassed that I hadn’t thought of it before!

Behind the Scenes in the paleobiology department in the National Museum of Natural History

In the end though probably the coolest thing I got to do was go behind the scenes at the National Museum of Natural History. The session itself was about the loan process for the museum. It was great to hear the insiders’ view of the loan process, and also to see that all institutions, big and small, are facing the same issues when it comes to their artifacts and archives. But for a kid who dreamed of being an archaeologist or paleontologist from a young age (I wasn’t picky, I just wanted to dig stuff up, preferably in the desert), it was mind-blowingly cool to have Kathy Hollis, Collections Manager for the Paleobiology Department, casually point out the triceratops skull we were passing.

Sometimes, in the day-to-day of museum life, we can lose track of what makes our jobs so cool. Budgets, strategic plans and meetings, while important, have a tendency to weigh heavily on us and keep us up at night. It’s easy to lose perspective, but looking into the skull of a dinosaur can certainly knock you back down to earth. We get the chance to work with amazing collections, to hear and tell remarkable stories and sometimes, on those most treasured days, it really is like being Indiana Jones.

Conference attendees snap pictures of a kited salmon at breakfast at the National Museum of the American Indian

So in the end, that’s what my blog post is all about. The conference helped breath new life into me; it gave me the much-needed opportunity to remember why I went into this field. Maybe that’s a little cheesy but what else would you expect from a girl whose ring tone is still Raiders of the Lost Ark ?

 

coming up in Affiliateland, May 2011

Sliding into summer with lots of activity!

FLORIDA:
The South Florida Museum opens SITES’ Hidden Life of Ants in Bradenton, 5/7.

PENNSYLVANIA:
Smithsonian researcher Warren Perry presents a lecture on “William E. Doster’s Defense of the Lincoln Conspirators” at the Historic Bethlehem Partnership in Bethlehem, 5/8.

MONTANA:
Dr. Rick Potts, Director of the Human Origins Program at the National Museum of Natural History will lead a workshop and lecture focused on human evolution at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, 5/13.

CONNECTICUT:
Hunt Hill Farm celebrates Steinway in May with Anna Karvellas, project director for the Steinway Diaries exhibition at the National Museum of American History, presenting a lecture on “The William Steinway Diary,” 5/14.  Smithsonian Scholar Robert Wyatt will speak on Steinway artists past and present in New Milford, 5/21.

CALIFORNIA:
Riverside Metropolitan Museum celebrates “Smithsonian Week” in Riverside, 5/19.

TEXAS:
The Women’s Museum: An Institute for the Future will display a painting by Lois Mailou Jones, on loan from the National Portrait Gallery, in its exhibition, Loïs Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color in Dallas, 5/21.

 

Kudos for December 2010

Great job Affiliates for ending the year on a high note!  and congratulations to all Affiliates for their accomplishments this year.   Bravo!

Big congratulations to Conner Prairie (Fishers, Indiana) and Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, California) for being two of 10 museums and libraries to receive the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from The Institute of Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries that make extraordinary civic, educational, economic, environmental, and social contributions. In addition to the National Medal, each institution receives a $10,000 award.

 As part of the Illinois Public Museums Capital Grants Program, the Adler Planetarium(Chicago) will receive a $750,000  grant towards new and expanded facilities, exhibits and infrastructure improvements.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has awarded a new $3 million grant to  the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art (Biloxi, Mississippi) to complete the structure for the gallery that displays the work of the celebrated Mississippi potter, George Ohr. The new addition will be named the John S. and James L. Knight Gallery.

The Heard Museum (Phoenix, Arizona) recently won two grants to help support free school admission for students to tour the museum during field trips. The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, awarded the museum $75,000 to support school tours, while the Orange County, California, Community Foundation’s S.L. Gimbel Foundation Fund gave a $7,500 grant to support student programming.

PPL Montana Community Fund awarded the Museum of the Rockies (Bozeman, Montana) a $2,500 grant to allow eligible Head Start families a free annual museum membership, part of a team effort between the museum and Head Start to provide financially disadvantaged children the opportunity to visit a museum.

The New York State Museum (Albany, New York) has received a $1 million federal grant to conduct a new research project aimed at protecting endangered species of native freshwater mussels from the lethal fouling impacts of invasive zebra mussels. The grant from the  Environmental Protection Agency, through its Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, will allow museum scientists to use their environmentally safe invention to continue their research with a new emphasis on open-water applications.

Museum of Design Atlanta (Atlanta, Georgia) received a $50,000 grant from the Charles Loridans Foundation to help support its move from downtown to Midtown, where it will open across Peachtree Street from the High Museum of Art in February.

affiliates in the news

Congratulations to these Affiliates making headlines this week!

Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, Massachusetts)
The real Thanksgiving unveiled at Plimoth Plantation. READ MORE
History Channel airs show on Thanksgiving produced by local native. READ MORE  
Plimoth Plantation helps reveal “The Real Story of Thanksgiving”. READ MORE

 

The Air Zoo (Portage, Michigan)
Air Zoo expanding. READ MORE
Air Zoo expansion to consolidate exhibits. READ MORE

Arizona State Museum (Tucson, Arizona)
Southwest’s roots on exhibit at Arizona State Museum. READ MORE

National Museum of American Jewish History (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Refined Jewish Museum Shows Up Drab Philadelphia Mall: Review. READ MORE
National Museum of American Jewish History, designed by James Polshek, opens. READ MORE
National Museum of American Jewish History’s new home unveiled. READ MORE
National Museum of American Jewish History comprised of multiple interlocking volumes. READ MORE 

Museum of the Rockies (Bozeman, Montana)
MSU Paleontologist Receives International Award. READ MORE

affiliates in the news: week of July 12

Congratulations to these Affiliates making headlines this week! 

The John E. Kushner Restoration Pavilion will consist of a build-out of the existing 940 Magazine St. warehouse.

National World War II Museum (New Orleans, LA)
For the past 10 years, visitors to the National World War II Museum have gazed upon such carefully restored artifacts as tanks, Jeeps and Higgins landing craft.By next spring, they should be able to watch restorers preparing those treasures for prime time…READ MORE

Frazier International History Museum (Louisville, KY)
WKU graduate student selected for prestigious Smithsonian internship…READ MORE 

MSU paleontologist Jack Horner and team arrive in August 2007 at a site on the Hell Creek Ranch to excavate a Triceratops (Photo by Lon Bolick)

Museum of the Rockies(Bozeman, MT)
MSU finds Triceratops, Torosaurus were different stages of one dinosaur… READ MORE

North Carolina Museum of Natural Science (Raleigh, NC)
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences on Tuesday introduced the director of its new Nature Research Center and accepted a $1.5 million gift to support the centerREAD MORE  

Conner Prairie (Fishers, IN)
Kids often hear “Look, don’t touch.” At Conner Prairie, families are encouraged to explore with all their senses…READ MORE

New York State Museum (Albany, NY)
A New York State Museum paleontologist has become the only scientist in the U.S. selected to participate in an all-expense paid research program in Spain that will enable him to investigate the effects of climate change on mammals over the last 2 million yearsREAD MORE 

 

Francis Koenig, founder of AnnMarie Garden, lived long enough to see the first permanent sculpture installed as he requested, a sculpture fountain dedicated to the oyster tongers. (Annmarie Garden, Baltimore Sun / July 14, 2010)

Annmarie Garden(Solomons, MD)
…Today, Annmarie Garden is a Southern Maryland gem – a woodland preserve dotted with art ranging from world-class sculptures to whimsical fairy houses created by staff…READ MORE