november 2013 Affiliate kudos

Even though the weather is getting chilly, Affiliate accomplishments continue to shine!!


The Illinois Arts Council Agency recently awarded Peoria Riverfront Museum (Peoria, IL) a grant of $20,600 from state funds. The grant will be used specifically for general operating support of the museum. In addition, Peoria Riverfront Museum received a $2000 grant from Target. The award will be used for a brand new educational kit involving Bee Bots, a new robot designed for use by young children.

The Burton D. Morgan Foundation has awarded $407,000 to the Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, OH) to support a three-year youth entrepreneurship program for students in grades 4-6 in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

The Long Island Museum (Stony Brook, NY) announced that its Long Island Long Ago school program was awarded a grant from Target Corporation. The grant will help the museum reach more than 12,000 Long Island school children annually, including those from underserved communities. Long Island Long Ago encourages students to explore farm life in the mid-nineteenth century through historic tools, paintings and dance.


Making flags for military use in the quartermaster corps depot, Philadelphia, Penn, 1942. Photograph courtesy of Library of Congress. LC-USZ62-95525. Photographer: Howard Liberman.

The State of Maryland has granted $128,000 to the Reginald F. Lewis Museum (Baltimore, MD) as part of its continuing support of programs and events commemorating the War of 1812.  The Museum will use the funds toward the presentation of a new exhibition entitled For Whom It Stands: The Flag and the American People.


Mr. Courtney Wilson, Director of the B & O Railroad Museum, was honored with the 2013 Katherine Coffey Award at the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums conference.  The award is given each year to recognize distinguished achievement in the museum field.  


‘old betsy’ makes multi-generational connections in Peoria

Special thanks to Monica Reardon, Smithsonian Affiliations summer intern, for authoring the 2013 Smithsonian #MuseumDayLive! blog series.

The Peoria Riverfront Museum, located in Peoria, Illinois, focuses on interdisciplinary learning, ranging from art to science to history and then some.  The space includes a planetarium, a sculpture garden, art studios, gallery spaces, and more.  The museum even has a “Green Tour,” which showcases the museum’s sustainable aspects.  Most importantly, it plays a role in the community it is in.

"Old Betsy" at the Peoria Riverfront Museum.

“Old Betsy” at the Peoria Riverfront Museum.

In fact, this Affiliate found a piece of its own community’s history at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.  “Old Betsy,” a 1931 prototype of the first diesel engine mass-produced by Caterpillar, Inc. was brought back to Peoria.  The engine is now an iconic object in the museum’s display of local history, and in the telling of the story of local manufacturing and innovation.  On loan to the museum since 2012, visitors during Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day Live! can get a close-up look at the 3,500 pound “Old Betsy,” officially called Caterpillar Diesel Engine No. 1.

“Probably the most rewarding aspect of having “Old Betsy,” as the engine prototype has long been known, on display at Peoria Riverfront Museum is the reaction of retired Caterpillar, Inc. employees who see it. .They immediately comment on their memories of the engine when it was displayed at Cat” noted Kristan H. McKinsey, Curator at Peoria Riverfront Museum.  These memories can lead to “multi-generational conversations about a myriad of topics such as farming, invention, Caterpillar and this community.”

She adds “I hope that visitors might understand that museums play many roles in society, and “Old Betsy” demonstrates several of them.”

Is the Smithsonian in your neighborhood? Find out which other Affiliates are participating in #MuseumDayLive on September 28, 2013, here.

Check out a video from a local Peoria news station on the arrival of “Old Betsy” here- Historic piece comes to museum

Installing Old Betsy

“Old Betsy” arrives at the Peoria Riverfront Museum.

The Sun Sets on the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion


The IMAS team de-installs the Pavilion. Photos courtesy Don Williams.

After 5-years on the road visiting 5 Affiliates in Illinois, Texas, New York, and Kentucky, a team of experts packed-up the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion at the International Museum of Art and Science (McAllen, Texas) at the end of August. The Pavilion reached nearly 150,000 visitors while on view at Peoria Riverfront Museum, Irving Arts Center, Flushing Town Hall, The Headley-Whitney Museum and IMAS. We’re grateful to Don Williams from the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute who traveled to each Affiliate with a team of volunteers to help install and de-install the Pavilion.

Feeling nostalgic? Wander down memory lane through these past posts from The Affiliate Blog:

Goodbye Texas, Hello New York! Part 1

Goodbye Texas, Hello New York! Part 2

Where Will the Pavilion Go Next?

Center Stage at Headley-Whitney

For more information about the Ten Thousand Springs Pavilion, contact

invention invention everywhere!

Since Smithsonian Affiliations started collaborating with the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History, we’ve learned a lot about Places of Invention.  (See this blog to learn more about our collaboration.) 

Affiliate staff and their community partners, on the roof of the National Museum of American History during the kickoff workshop for Places of Invention

Affiliates have joined the action too.  On June 15, Affiliate staff and their community partners joined a day-long workshop to kickoff their individual research projects around their own communities and what makes them so innovative.  (Read more about the kickoff workshop on the Lemelson Center’s blog, Bright Ideas.)

Now, we are all much more attuned to what makes a place of invention – be it exceptional natural resources, the right mixture of people and skills, or an inspiring location… or something else.  Invention was readily on view during a recent trip to western Massachusetts, and we suspect, can be documented in many other communities as well.

Join the quest for invention and share your stories with us!