Tag Archive for: NASM

sleepless in seattle

There is so much going on at Smithsonian Affiliates in and around Seattle that one can hardly sleep.  Of course being in the heart of America’s coffee capital only adds to this condition.

Entrance to the Museum of Flight

Entrance to the Museum of Flight

This trip started on November 12 at the Museum of Flight, a sparkling and sprawling Affiliate, just south of the city, appropriately recognized as the world’s largest private not-for-profit air and space museum.  Under the dynamic leadership of Bonnie Dunbar, five-time space shuttle astronaut, the museum hosts such remarkables as the first Boeing 747, Air Force One, and a supersonic Concorde.  Astronaut John Young’s spacesuit and various examples of space food, on loan from the National Air and Space Museum (NASM), are also on display in the main building.  I was pleased to run into Dan Hagedorn, formerly of NASM and now senior curator at the museum. Dan’s voluminous knowledge of aircraft and aviation history kept me spellbound for hours. I think of Dan as our permanent loan to the museum.  He is complemented by an enthusiastic set of colleagues who, like the pioneers of flight, are continually dreaming up new ways to expand the museum’s innovative exhibitions and education programs.  Soar on!

A striking installation at the Wing Luke Asian Museum

A striking installation at the Wing Luke Asian Museum

The Wing Luke Asian Museum, in the heart of Seattle’s International District, flies to the heart of Seattle’s complex history as a home for generations of Asian and Pacific Island Americans.  The small community museum led for many years by visionary Ron Chew, and now directed by the equally inspiring Beth Takekawa, recently reopened around the corner in a not so small historic building, brilliantly transformed by the architectural firm Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen.  The renovation allows for contemporary art and community culture displays while preserving the original spaces occupied by workers, family associations, and merchants.  On view at this time are Roger Shimomura’s provocative and disturbing  “yellow terror” artifacts and his paintings that explore and expose the cruelty and harm of stereotyping.

The new Light Catcher building of the Whatcom Museum of History and Art

The new Lightcatcher building of the Whatcom Museum of History and Art

About ninety miles up the coast, in Bellingham, Washington stands the Whatcom Museum of History and Art, an important repository of Northwest  history and culture, and the ultimate destination of this trip. On November 13 the Whatcom celebrated the opening of it new “Lightcatcher” building, an exquisite facility, also designed by Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects, that will rehouse the museum’s art collection and showcase new collections and acquisitions.  It was an honor to join director Patricia Leach, Mayor Dan Pike, the Board and all the local supporters in applauding this great community accomplishment. Bellingham was famous as the jumping off point for the great Alaska gold rush, but the hard work of many in this city, has unearthed the local gold of good will and artistic creativity.  We are delighted that the Smithsonian American Art Museum‘s very relevant exhibition, 1934: A New Deal for the Arts, will be the featured jewel at the Whatcom in 2010.  

Smithsonian Affiliates in Seattle and Bellingham offer so many amazing opportunities for learning and discovery, that what I lacked for in sleep I made up for in inspiration.  Pour me another cup of coffee!

the sky’s the limit at NASM

What do an object loan coordinator, digitized posters, a public observatory and a virtual conference have in common? All are opening the collections and resources of the National Air and Space Museum in new and exciting ways!

Hunter Hollins,

Hunter Hollins, loan coordinator, space history

New Loan Coordinator: Hunter Hollins

Hunter joined the Space History Division of the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in May of this year.  With almost 20 years of experience working with museums to manage exhibitions of art and artifacts of cultural heritage, Hunter is excited to help Affiliates get the most from their relationship with the NASM. He’s currently working with the Challenger Space Center, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Peoria, Arizona, on a loan of artifacts related to life in space. There’s some surprising items on the list- including “ChapStick” (to ensure the astronauts’ comfort) and fishing line and hooks, in case they had too much time floating in the Pacific Ocean when they returned!

Hunter works closely with borrowers to maintain our national treasures while on exhibit so they can be enjoyed and studied by generations to come.

NASM’s “Fly Now!” Poster Collection online


At the end of this summer, staff at NASM achieved a milestone: they had photographed, scanned and catalogued most of the museum’s collection of 1,300 posters.  The posters, which date from 1827 and include contemporary examples, are available for the first time online.  View them here.


Amelia Brakeman Kile, an intern who worked on the project, said that their efforts will allow scholars to “contribute to knowledge, study and discussion of this valuable resource.”  Read more in her blog post.


NASM's telescope, on loan from Harvard

NASM's telescope, on loan from Harvard

Harvard on the Mall: NASM Opens a Public Observatory
400 years ago, Galileo made the first recorded astronomical observations with a telescope. To commemorate his achievement, NASM opened a public observatory on the National Mall. The observatory features a 16 inch, 3,000 pound telescope on loan from the Harvard College Observatory. During daylight hours, visitors can view the moon, bright stars and planets, and with a special filter, the sun. And, for the next three months, visitors can see the Smithsonian Dibner Library’s first edition of Galileo’s “Sidereus Nuncius” after they view the heavens.

Apollo Space Program Virtual Conference for Educators

Join experts from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum for the Apollo Space Program Virtual Conference, a FREE one-day online conference on Tuesday, November 10. Forty years ago the Apollo Space Program met President Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the moon, one of the most significant achievements of the 20th Century. Join experts as they present the challenges of the Apollo Program and examine the remarkable technologies that made the moon landings possible.  Click here for session details and registration .