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Smithsonian artifacts help tell the story at new National Museum of American Jewish History

The new National Museum of American Jewish History hosts its grand opening celebration this weekend. And you’ve probably already heard the buzz that VIPs such as Bette Midler, Jerry Seinfeld and Vice President Joe Biden will be on hand for the opening.  But did you know there will be some quieter stars sticking around long after opening weekend concludes?  Thanks to loans from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and National Museum of the American Indian, 13 amazing artifacts from the Smithsonian collection that document the history and achievements of Jewish Americans will be on view for visitors long after the fanfare ends.  Here’s a few of the Smithsonian artifacts visitors will encounter:

Albert Einstein’s pipe
One of only 18 Jewish Americans to be featured in the Museum’s prestigious “Only in America” gallery, Albert Einstein, creator of the theory of relativity, Nobel Prize winner, and striver for world peace, is almost as well known for his physical appearance as for his epochal work in theoretical physics. Characteristic of that appearance was a pipe. Although in his later years he restricted his smoking on doctors’ orders, he couldn’t bear to give up the tactile experience of a pipe itself. This one, in fact, gives evidence of Einstein’s long usage in a hole he wore through its bit.   

Polio vaccine vial
Jonas Salk first tested his polio vaccine on humans in July 1952 when he inoculated thirty children at the D. T. Watson Home for Crippled Children near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This vial contains residue of polio vaccine from these first tests, which had a profound effect on American medical history.

 

 

Sandy Koufax’s Rawlings Mickey Mantle Professional Model mitt
Sandy Koufax was signed to his hometown Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955 and started pitching regularly for them when they moved to Los Angeles. In 1961, with a wicked curve ball, Koufax won 18 games and triggered one of the most exciting five-season performances ever seen on a mound. This included the lowest earned-run average in baseball for five straight years, a no-hitter in each of four consecutive seasons, and three World Series championships. Koufax used this left-hander’s glove during his career with the Dodgers.

Shofar (Central Europe, 19th century)
This shofar, a Jewish ceremonial instrument made from a ram’s horn, was the first object of Judaica collected by former curator Cyrus Adler for the (Smithsonian) National Museum in 1889. Want to hear what one sounds like? Click here to listen at Smithsonian Folkways!

Irving Berlin’s Uniform Jacket from WWI
Irving Berlin’s jacket will be exhibited in a gallery devoted to telling the American Jewish experience during WWI.  While a doughboy in WWI, Berlin wrote songs and presented musicals which raised money for Camp Upton.

Did you know that the character of Superman was created by Jewish Americans?   Smithsonian artifacts such as a Superman doll, a gold rush coin, sheet music and more, add an important complement to the Museum’s exhibitions, which chronicle 350 years of American Jewish history.   The Smithsonian could not be prouder to be part of this historic opening event. 

The National Museum of American Jewish History officially opens to the public on November 26.  For more information about this museum, visit http://nmajh.org/

Interested in more headlines about the museum’s opening? See our blog post, Affiliates in the News, for more info.

All images courtesy National Museum of American History.

coming up in affiliateland in november 2010

November is another busy month in Affiliateland!

ILLINOIS
Sousa and His League of Players: America’s Music and the Golden Age of Baseball opens at the Sousa Archives at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in Champaign, 11.1.

NEW YORK:
The Smithsonian American Art Museum loans a 1966 Charmion von Wiegand painting to the Rubin Museum of Art, in New York, 11.5. 

WASHINGTON:
The Museum of History and Industry will announce their Affiliation at an event with Smithsonian Regent Patty Stonesifer, in Seattle, 11.5. 

NORTH CAROLINA:
David Bohaska, collections manager in the Department of Paleobiology at the National Museum of Natural History will participate in the annual Fossil Festival at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, in Raleigh, 11.6. 

MISSISSIPPI:
The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art will host a Grand Opening of their new museum  and will unveil “Blackberry Woman,” a Richmond Barthe bronze sculpture, on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in Biloxi, 11.6.

PENNSYLVANIA:
The National Museum of American Jewish History hosts a Grand Opening Weekend showcasing several Smithsonian loans, in Philadelphia, 11.12-14. 

PUERTO RICO
Three José Campeche paintings travel for the first time from the Smithsonian American Art Museum to the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, in San Juan, 11.18. 

FLORIDA:
Smithsonian Secretary, G. Wayne Clough, will give a public lecture at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University, in Miami, 11.19. 

CALIFORNIA:
The SITES’ exhibition, Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964 will open at the Sonoma County Museum, in Santa Rosa, 11.20. 

*amazing* loans at Affiliates this fall

More than 25 amazing and unique artifacts are on the move from the Smithsonian to Affiliates in six states,  from September to November this year.  This concentration of extraordinary activity gives testament to months (and sometimes years!) of hard work and planning by Smithsonian and Affiliate staffs alike. 

“Americans unable to visit the Smithsonian in Washington now have an opportunity to see some amazing Smithsonian artifacts from our collections in their own communities,” said Harold Closter, Affiliations Director.  “Something special happens when an artifact returns to its location of origin or joins an exhibit where it can be seen in a new context. Thanks to our Affiliates, the Smithsonian has a strong, visible presence in every part of our country.”

From the NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY:

Lexington's skeletal head, next to its image while alive.

The fall season kicked off in Kentucky, site of the 2010 World Equestrian Games.  The International Museum of the Horse borrowed the complete skeleton of Lexington, the most famous 19th-century American racehorse, returning him to his birthplace 160 years later.   Read more about this amazing loan in the upcoming Fall 2010 edition of The Affiliate newsletter. 

Isn’t Monopoly the way most of us learned about finance and economics?  A solid gold, jewel-encrusted Monopoly game from the Museum’s gem collection was unveiled with great fanfare in October at the Museum of American Finance on Wall Street in New York City.  While students competed in a Monopoly tournament, the artifact’s creator, jeweler Sidney Mobell, spoke about this one-of-a-kind artwork.   

From the SMITHSONIAN AMERICAN ART MUSEUM:

Barthe's almost 3' Blackberry Woman

Artist Richmond Barthe’s bronze sculpture Blackberry Woman will soon be on view at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum in Biloxi, Mississippi for the inaugural exhibition in its new African American gallery.  Barthe grew up in Mississippi, and was inspired by the women he encountered there in his childhood.  How elegantly appropriate for this sculpture to return to the genesis of its inspiration!

In November, the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico will display three paintings from SAAM’s Vidal Collection by legendary 18- 19th-century Puerto Rican Old Master, José Campeche.  These inclusions in a definitive retrospective of Campeche’s work represent the first loans ever between these two important art museums, a signficiant accomplishment.

Likewise, SAAM’s painting by Charmion von Wiegand “Nothing that is wrong in principle can be right in practice” will be part of the Rubin Museum’s Grain of Emptiness: Buddhism-inspired Contemporary Art exhibition, the Museum’s first loan to this NYC Affiliate.

 From the ARCHIVES CENTER at the National Museum of American History:  

Detail from the illustrated sheet music, Oh! You Babe Ruth

The Archives Center is making a significant contribution to the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music’s Sousa and His League of Players: America’s Music and the Golden Age of Baseball exhibition, marking the 100th anniversary of the Sousa Band’s World Tour.  With 11 baseball cards (including Ty Cobb’s) and several examples of illustrated sheet music (including Oh! You Babe Ruth and Stars of the National Game music), this exhibition will be the core of the University’s 2010 American Music Month Celebration.

From the NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN:

In an unexpected request, the Museum has loaned a 19th-century Sioux flute and hide scraper from the Dakota Territory to the National Museum of American Jewish History.  What’s the connection?  When NMAJH opens its brand new building on Independence Mall this November, part of the history it will tell is the western expansion of Jewish Americans, and the kinds of peoples and objects they encountered along the way.   

And from the MUSEUM CONSERVATION INSTITUTE:

Within the Emperor's Garden - on view at Flushing Town Hall

MCI’s extraordinary object, the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion, made its way between two Affiliates this fall, from Texas to Flushing, New York.  Flushing Town Hall is located in one of New York City’s largest Asian communities, a perfect context for this 1:5 scale model replica from the Imperial Garden in the Forbidden City in Bejing.  Read more about the deinstallation and NYC installation of this object.

THANK YOU to all of our Smithsonian colleagues for their work on these loans, and for our Affiliate friends who so consistently collaborate with us to bring the Smithsonian to their neighborhoods.

affiliates in the news: week of september 20

Congratulations to these Affiliates making headlines this week!

Museum of American Finance (New York, NY)
The Museum of American Finance will unveil the display of an 18-karat solid gold Monopoly set covered with hundreds of precious gemstones, on loan from the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History…READ MORE

Museum of American Finance To Display Jeweled Monopoly Set and Host Tournament…READ MORE

Polk Museum of Art (Lakeland, FL)
Polk Museum of Art is pleased to announce that it has been accepted into the Smithsonian Affiliations Program…READ MORE 

Polk Museum Gets Affiliation With Smithsonian…READ MORE

Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences (Peoria, IL)
Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences has been awarded a $10,000 Arts Education Invitational Grants Initiative grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to digitize the Picture Person Program educational kits…READ MORE

Hunt Hill Farm (New Milford, CT)
…The Smithsonian curator who got the ball rolling was Rayna Green, curator and director of the American Indian Program, Division of Home and Community Life, who will present “In Julia’s Kitchen”…READ MORE

The Long Island Museum of American Art, History & Carriages (Stony Brook, NY)
The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook announced Thursday it has received accreditation from the American Association of Museums, the highest honor awarded by the national organization…READ MORE

The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar (Richmond, VA)
Richmond visitors have a new starting point for the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War and the end of slavery: Historic Tredegar…READ MORE

Historic Tredegar: The Region’s Gateway to the Civil War…READ MORE

National Museum of American Jewish History (Philadelphia, PA)
On November 12th, the National Museum of American Jewish History will reopen in its new location at Independence Mall. The weekend of celebration will feature performances by Jerry Seinfeld and Bette Midler…READ MORE

Two of the country’s most famous Jewish performers will highlight the opening of one of the most ambitious Jewish museum projects in years…READ MORE

North Carolina Museum of History (Raleigh, NC)
Exhibit in North Carolina Shows the Real George Washington…READ MORE

National Mississippi River Museum (Dubuque, IA)
Foundation awards river museum $1 million grant for river center…READ MORE

Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day
Everybody loves a freebie and this Saturday, September 25, marks Smithsonian magazine’s 6th Annual Museum Day, when more than 1,500 museum and cultural venues across the United States will honor Smithsonian.com’s special get-in-free ticket for two…READ MORE

affiliates in the news: week of July 19

Congratulations to these Affiliates making headlines this week!

During a previous trip to Pinilla del Valle, Spain, Dr. Robert Feranec, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the New York State Museum, picks through small animal bones from sediment recovered from fossil caves. Photo courtesy of NYS Museum.

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 years…READ MORE

The New York State Museum’s curator of vertebrate paleontology has been chosen to participate in a three-month research program at the University of Madrid, Spain. He’s the only American scientist chosen this year: most participants come from the European Union…READ MORE

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Raleigh, NC)
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences introduced Margaret D. “Meg” Lowman as director of their new wing, the Nature Research Center…READ MORE

The Center for Jewish History (New York, NY)
The Center for Jewish History, the largest repository of the modern Jewish experience outside of Israel, has received a $225,000 grant from the Vivian G. Prins Foundation to support Post-Doctoral fellowships for Emigrating Scholars, who seek permanent teaching and research positions in North America…READ MORE

National Museum of American Jewish History (Philadelphia, PA)
Last month, New York media artist Ben Rubin got the go-ahead to produce an LED light sculpture to be placed atop the new National Museum of American Jewish History on Independence Mall, set to open in November…
READ MORE

WASP (photo courtesy of Texas Woman's University)

The Women’s Museum: An Institute for the Future (Dallas, TX)
The Women’s Museum’s Dreams of Flight Exhibit Opening Coincides with Legendary Pilot’s Birthday, Amelia Earhart…READ MORE