Posts

Katharine Hepburn at The Durham Museum

Special thanks for this guest post to Amy Henderson, National Portrait Gallery’s historian emerita. Amy is a cultural historian specializing in “the lively arts”–particularly media-generated celebrity culture. Her books and exhibitions run the gamut from the pioneers in early broadcasting to Elvis Presley, Katharine Hepburn and Katharine Graham.

In the late 1980s, I met writer-director Garson Kanin at a Washington dinner party, and he set the stage for one of my happiest adventures as a cultural historian at the National Portrait Gallery. When I discovered that Garson, who wrote and directed all of the Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy movies, lived next door to Herself in New York, I whined until he promised to give me her address. My excuse? The Portrait Gallery needed a fine portrait of the iconic actress!

Garson’s introduction worked, and I got to know Miss Hepburn in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. I would have coffee and cookies with her when I traveled to New York, and we always went on an exploration of all the portraits she kept in her townhouse; there were a lot, since she had known artists her entire life.

She mentioned “all the costumes” on the upper floor, but I never got a glimpse. Now, thanks to the Durham Museum in Omaha, the costumes are on full view. “Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen” is drawn from the Kent State Museum’s Hepburn Costume Collection, and features more than 35 costumes worn in 21 films and 6 stage productions–and some of her private life clothes.

image001

Mick Hale, Director of Education at the Durham, heard that I had curated a 2007 Portrait Gallery exhibition celebrating Hepburn’s centennial, and invited me to speak about her life in conjunction with the Durham’s costume show. I eagerly accepted, and spoke at this Smithsonian Affiliate in April. Talking about her life, I focused mainly on Hepburn’s remarkable ability to fashion her own image, even in the heyday of the Hollywood studio system when studios configured their stars to reflect their own particular movie “brand.”  E.g., Warner Bros. had a “Murderers’ Row” of gangsters, while MGM boasted “all the stars in the heavens.”

The Durham has been a Smithsonian Affiliate since 2002, and Mick Hale estimates that they have hosted 25 or so traveling exhibitions such as the Hepburn costumes. Other recent speakers have included Mike Neufeld from the National Air and Space Museum, who spoke about the Apollo 8 mission during the Durham’s “1968” exhibition; and Smithsonian Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture, Richard Kurin, who shared his stories about 101 Smithsonian artifacts last Fall when the Durham hosted the Franklin Institute’s traveling exhibit “Identity: An Exhibition of You.”

image002

My visit was enormous fun. First, the museum itself is lodged in what had been a stunning Art Deco train station that opened in 1931; lofty ceilings and a sense of bustle create an instantly uplifting “wow” museum experience. Second, for me it was great to see the costumes Hepburn wore during her long stage and screen career. Her waist was TINY–20”–and it was fascinating to see costumes from such landmark performances as the Broadway version of the Philadelphia Story. I also lingered over the section that spotlighted her impeccably tailored tan slacks, of which she had dozens.

My visit came at the end of Mick Hale’s tenure as education director at the Durham. After ten years, he is heading toward new challenges, directing a leadership initiative in Lincoln. But his dynamic partnership with the Smithsonian will remain firmly rooted at the Durham. “The museum and I are very proud of what we have done with the Smithsonian,” he told me, “and I know the quality work and collaboration will continue for a long time.”

image003All photos courtesy of the Durham Museum.

coming up in Affiliateland in April 2015

Spring is here in Affiliateland!

PENNSYLVANIA
The National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) will open the Richard Avedon: Family Affairs exhibition featuring reproductions of the photographer’s work from Smithsonian collections, 4.1 . The National Museum of American History will collaborate with NMAJH to host a Let’s Do History workshop for teachers in Philadelphia, 4.7.

The African American Museum in Philadelphia will co-sponsor the Emancipation 2015 Symposium, featuring a keynote by Nancy Bercaw, curator at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Philadelphia, 4.25.

WeCanDoItThe Heinz History Center will open You Can Do It! World War II exhibition, featuring six artifact loans from the National Museum of American History and the National Air and Space Museum, in Pittsburgh, 4.25.

VIRGINIA
The Smithsonian Associates lead a tour on “Politics and Society in Civil War-era Richmond” featuring the American Civil War Center in Richmond, 4.4.

VERMONT
The Sullivan Museum and History Center will feature a lecture by Tom Crouch, senior curator at the National Air and Space Museum on Lincoln’s military aeronautics in the Civil War in Northfield, 4.8.

NEBRASKA
The Durham Museum will host National Portrait Gallery curator Amy Henderson for a lecture on “Katharine Hepburn: Master of Her Own Image,” in Omaha, 4.9.

COLORADO
History Colorado will feature a lecture by National Air and Space Museum curator Mike Neufeld on Apollo 8 as a complement to the 1968 exhibition in Denver, 4.21.

TENNESSEE
The Museum Center at 5ive Points will open SITES IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas in Cleveland, 4.24.

national_youth_summit_0NATIONWIDE
The National Museum of American History will host a National Youth Summit: War on Poverty program in collaboration with several Affiliates: the Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, MI); HistoryMiami (Miami, FL); Museum of History and Industry (Seattle, WA); National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati, OH); and Oklahoma History Center (Oklahoma City, OK), 4.28.

GEORGIA
Will you be at the American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting? So will we! Say hi to Affiliations’ national outreach managers Laura Hansen and Caroline Mah in Atlanta, 4.29.

coming up in affiliateland in november 2014

Even though the weather is turning chilly, Affiliates are keeping things hot with events from coast to coast.

CALIFORNIA
General John Dailey, Director of the National Air and Space Museum, will be inducted into the International Air and Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air and Space Museum, 11.1.

pins on loan

Environmental pins on loan from the Smithsonian to an Affiliate in California

The Sonoma County Museum will present Hole in the Head: The Battle for Bodega Bay and the Birth of the Environmental Movement exhibition, featuring 13 protest buttons on loan from the National Museum of American History, in Santa Rosa, 11.2.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
The National Inventors Hall of Fame will participate in the Smithsonian Innovation Festival in Washington, 11.1-2.

Organized by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, an exhibition titled Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College opens at the Smithsonian, presented by the National Museum of African American History and Culture in their gallery at the National Museum of American History in Washington, 11.7.

PENNSYLVANIA
The Heinz History Center presents jazz innovation as part of its Places of Invention ongoing project with the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center, in Pittsburgh, 11.1.

NEBRASKA
Undersecretary Richard Kurin presents a talk and booksigning on The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects at the Durham Museum in Omaha, 11.4.

Earth from Space exhibition in New Mexico

Earth from Space exhibition in New Mexico

NEW MEXICO
Dr. Andrew Johnston, geographer and curator at the National Air and Space Museum, presents a public talk at the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, 11.6.

VIRGINIA
George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens presents The Face of the Nation: George Washington, Art, and America symposium, featuring National Portrait Gallery curator Wendy Wick Reaves and curator emerita Ellen Miles, at Mount Vernon, 11.7.

GEORGIA
National Portrait Gallery researcher and author Warren Perry presents a public lecture on Guns, Horses, Uniforms, and More Guns: Themes of American Civil War Visual Culture at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, 11.13.

Jeff Post, Curator at the National Museum of Natural History will present a public lecture on the Hope Diamond at the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, 11.21.

PUERTO RICO
Affiliations Director Harold Closter leads a workshop on Designing Museum Budgets at the Museo y Centro de Estudios Humanísticos in Gurabo, 11.15.

25 Smithsonian artifacts from the film industry will be on view soon in North Carolina

25 Smithsonian artifacts from the film industry will be on view soon in North Carolina

NORTH CAROLINA
The North Carolina Museum of History will present Starring North Carolina! an exhibition of the state’s role in the film industry featuring 25 artifacts on loan from the National Museum of American History, in Raleigh, 11.15.

LOUISIANA
Undersecretary Richard Kurin presents a talk and booksigning on The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, 11.18.

 

Have you caught up on Smithsonian news in your neighborhood?

cover2Extra! Extra! Read all about it! The Fall 2013 issue of The Affiliate Newsletter just wrapped up production. In this issue:

West Coast Partner Brings SI to LA

Get a peek at several Smithsonian collaborations at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles that are helping to tell the American story through the Japanese story.

2013 conference attendees participated in hands-on workshops at ImagiNATIONS education space in the National Museum of the American Indian.

2013 conference attendees participated in hands-on workshops at ImagiNATIONS education space in the National Museum of the American Indian.

Connecting Communities, Classrooms, and Colleagues at the 2013 National Conference

A record-breaking 119 attendees from 74 Affiliates attended the 2013 Affiliations National Conference. Check out some conference photos and see what your Affiliate colleagues said about the meeting.

Hanging Out with Elvis in Fort Worth

Guest author Amy Henderson, cultural historian at the National Portrait Gallery, shares her experience visiting Fort Worth Museum of Science and History while the Elvis at 21 exhibition was on display.

Smithsonian EdLab Shares New Twist to Digital Learning

Smithsonian EdLab workshops at four Affiliates demonstrated the power of going beyond the walls of the classroom to create a 21st-century idea of what education can be.

Announcing the I. Michael Heyman Smithsonian Across America Fund

We’re announcing a new fund to support the work of Smithsonian Affiliations in sharing resources with people in their own communities.

2013 Intern Partners and Visiting Professionals

Quick highlights from our four Affiliate staff members and one Affiliate intern during their residencies at the Smithsonian.

Ed Nichols, History Colorado director, and Harold Closter, Smithsonian Affiliations director view Jefferson's Bible before it is displayed at History Colorado (Denver).

Ed Nichols, History Colorado director, and Harold Closter, Smithsonian Affiliations director view Jefferson’s Bible before it is displayed at History Colorado (Denver).

A Conversation with History Colorado

Five questions with History Colorado about the impact of bringing Thomas Jefferson’s Bible to the Denver community.

Smithsonian In Your Neighborhood

A recap of events, exhibitions and programs in Affiliate neighborhoods from May to October 2013.

Visit our ISSUU library for past editions of The Affiliate Newsletter.

coming up in affiliateland, July-August 2013

Spend your summer at a Smithsonian Affiliate! Check out these events in your neighborhood in July and August.

MAINE
Kevin Gover, National Museum of the American Indian and Harold Closter, Smithsonian Affiliations, attended the public announcement of the Abbe Museum as a new Smithsonian Affiliate in Bar Harbor, 07.05.

Gabrielle Tayac (Piscataway), National Museum of the American Indian curator of the IndiVisible exhibit will give a public lecture on the similar histories of African-Native Americans and Acadian/Wabanaki relations at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, 7.10. 

FLORIDA

Lindsay Bartholomew, science curator at the Miami Science Museum, presented as part of the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access online webinar, Do It Yourself Astrophotography:  Applications for the Classroom and Beyond, along with Mary Dussault, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, in Washington, D.C, 07.10.

MARYLAND
The B&O Railroad Museum collaborated with the Smithsonian Science Education Center for a Science Education Academy for Teachers workshop, in Baltimore, 07.10.

Warren Perry, National Portrait Gallery curator, will guest jury the exhibition Humor Me! at Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center, in Solomons, 08.07.

COLORADO
National Outreach Manager Aaron Glavas will be speaking at the public announcement of the Telluride Historical Museum as a new Smithsonian Affiliate in Telluride, 7.29.

IDAHO

The Idaho Museum of Natural History will host the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) exhibit Native Words, Native Warriors in Pocatello, 07.20.

MISSOURI
The American Jazz Museum will host SITES’ American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music, in Kansas City, 08.01.

MASSACHUSETTS
The USS Constitution Museum will host a teacher workshop featuring a lecture by Sidney Hart, Senior Historian from the National Portrait Gallery, in Boston, 07.26 and 08.09.

NATIONWIDE
Ten Affiliates are hosting student interns as part of the Smithsonian Latino Center’s Young Ambassadors Program, through 08.02–Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, Musical Instrument Museum, California Science Center, Museum of Latin American Art, Chabot Space and Science Center, Miami Science MuseumMuseum of Flight, and the International Museum of Art and Science.

Four Affiliates are participating in a Smithsonian EdLab teacher workshop, Connecting Classrooms, throughout July and August –the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre; the International Museum of Art and Science in McAllen, Texas; the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico in San Juan; and Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum in Arizona.

LAST CHANCE! See these exhibitions in your community before they close!

CONNECTICUT

The SITES’ exhibit Ramp It Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America closes at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, in Mashantucket, 07.21.

TEXAS
Within the Emperor’s Garden: The Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion exhibit closes at the International Museum of Art and Science, in McAllen, 08.18.

MAINE
SITES’ exhibit IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas closes at the Abbe Museum, in Bar Harbor, 08.04.

coming up in affiliateland in may 2013

May is a busy time in Affiliateland! 

CALIFORNIA
The
Japanese American National Museum will open SITES’ American Heroes: Japanese American WWII Nisei Soldiers and the Congressional Gold Medal, 5.4. The museum will also host the National Portrait Gallery’s traveling exhibition Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits in Los Angeles, 5.11.

bbhc

Detail of a historic firearm to be displayed in Cody, Wyoming.

WYOMING
64 artifacts from the National Museum of American History’s firearm collection go on display at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, 5.4.

FLORIDA
The Polk Museum of Art will host the Mayfaire Arts Festival. Beverly K. Cox, formerly Exhibits Coordinator for the National Portrait Gallery, will serve as the jurist for the museum’s annual two-day arts festival in Lakeland, 5.10. 

St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum will host a public program on the Art of Boatbuilding, featuring curator Douglas Herman from the National Museum of the American Indian. He will present a public  demonstration on boatbuilding by Pacific Islanders in St. Augustine, 5.18.

NORTH CAROLINA
The Schiele Museum of Natural History and Lynn Planetarium will open an exhibition entitled Mammal Safari, featuring 25 mounted specimens on loan from the National Museum of Natural History, in Gastonia, 5.18.

MARYLAND
College Park Aviation Museum will host their second Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos workshop in College Park, 5.19.

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum hosts a reception for all Affiliate staff during the American Alliance of Museums annual meeting in Baltimore, 5.21.

ramp

Native skateboard culture is headed to Connecticut

CONNECTICUT
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center hosts SITES’s Ramp it Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America in Mashantucket, 5.25.

TEXAS
Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is hosting SITES’ Elvis at 21, featuring 40 Smithsonian artifacts in Fort Worth, 5.23.

MAINE
Abbe Museum opens SITES’ IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas, in Bar Harbor  5.23.