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NMAI colleague couriers artifacts cross-country to Affiliates

Thanks to Raj Solanki of the National Museum of the American Indian for the guest blog post.  

The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) received a loan request from Smithsonian Affiliate Riverside Metropolitan Museum in California for their exhibition Beyond Craft: American Indian Women Artists. Curated by Dr. Brenda Focht, this exhibition includes four contemporary Native artists Anita Fields, Pat Courtney Gold, Teri Greeves, and Margaret Wood.

Preparing to install the quilt at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum

What was so compelling about the exhibit, is the relationship that the Museum and Dr. Focht developed with each artist. Each artist was a co-curator to the exhibition and had a hand in developing content and programming. Because of this, NMAI eagerly said yes to the loan request of a Margaret Wood work titled Ribbon Shirt Quilt (NMAI 26/5800).

In March, I couriered the quilt and oversaw the installation at Riverside Museum. As a courier, I get to “see the behind the scenes” before a show goes up, and I was impressed by the objects chosen for the exhibit. Some objects came directly from the artists and private collectors. Other works were lent by other Smithsonian Affiliates – the Heard Museum in Phoenix, and Michigan State University Museum in East Lansing. I wished I could have stayed longer to see their “Meet the Artist” Program, which took place in April. However, the objects spoke for themselves.

Each artist has a way of conveying a story in her medium. The Riverside Museum allowed space for each artist to tell her story whether it was family history or Native identity in today’s context. Displayed prominently is Margaret Wood’s Ribbon Shirt Quilt, which was inspired by the meaning of a ribbon shirt as a symbol of ‘Indianness’. Explained on her website, Margaret writes “The origins of the ribbon shirts harkens to the fringed leather shirts of the Plains Indians…When woven cloth and ribbons became available as trade items, Plains women used the new materials to create facsimiles of the original leather shirts. There are some tribal styles and characteristics and a lot of variety and originality displayed in the ribbon shirts being made. They are worn by men, women, babies, elders and teenagers.”

Margaret Wood's Ribbon Shirt Quilt, installed.

The Riverside Metropolitan Museum is in the heart of Riverside, CA and is part of the city’s effort to revitalize the area. The façade of the building is under renovation. But don’t let the scaffolding fool you. It is not closed! This little building offers some great exhibits on natural history of the area, history on the Native population as well as the community that settled in the area and its continuing growth.

The Riverside Museum was a recipient of the 2010 National Museum of the American Indian’s Indigenous Contemporary Arts Program.

Look for Raj at the 2011 Affiliations’ National Conference Resource Fair on Tuesday afternoon, June 14.  The first five Affiliate staff members to mention this blog post win a prize!

Coming Up in Affiliateland in June 2011

Summer is in full swing with great events at Affiliates!

NATIONWIDE:
The Smithsonian’s Latino Center hosts its Latino Young Ambassadors in June, which brings students to Washington, DC for a week of cultural enrichment programs.  Following their Washington week, the Ambassadors will return to Affiliate sites for month-long internships in their home communities. 
Participating Affiliates include: Museum of Latin American Art (Long Beach, CA); California Science Center (Los Angeles, CA); Chabot Space and Science Center (Oakland, CA); Miami Science Museum (Miami, FL); Adler Planetarium (Chicago, IL); Museum of Flight (Seattle, WA); Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico  (San Juan, PR); International Museum of Art and Science (McAllen, TX).

Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture

WASHINGTON:
The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture celebrates 10 years as an Affiliate with an award ceremony featuring Affiliations Director Harold Closter in Spokane, 6.2.

GEORGIA:
At the Controls exhibition of cockpit photographs of aircraft and spacecraft from the National Air and Space Museum opens at the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, 6.4.

CALIFORNIA:
National Museum of Natural History Museum scientist Rusty Russell leads a citizen science program with the Riverside Metropolitan Museum in Riverside, 6.11 

PUERTO RICO:
A workshop on “Linking the Museum to the Classroom through Education” will take place at the Universidad del Turabo in Gurabo, 6.23-25.

NEW YORK:
Monica Smith, Exhibition Program Manager at the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, will give a public lecture on the history of the electric guitar at the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook, 6.26.

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.

 

coming up in Affiliateland in April 2011

Hello spring!   Like the cherry blossoms in D.C., activities at Affiliates are budding all over the country in April.

MARYLAND:
The
Smithsonian Associates presents a public tour, “The Birthplace of American Railroading,” at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museumin Baltimore, 4/2.

The B & O Museum will also open The War Came by Train, an exhibition commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and featuring the 1851 Pioneer locomotive, on loan from the National Museum of American History and recently restored by the B & O Museum, 4/14.

National Museum of American History curator Nancy Davis will serve on the jury panel for the upcoming Supersize exhibition at Annmarie Garden, 4/8.

COLORADO:
NASM curator Michael Neufeld will give a public lecture and book signing for the National Air and Space Museum: An Autobiography at the Littleton Museum in Littleton, 4/6.  

VIRGINIA:
National Museum of Natural History curator Doug Owlsey will present the keynote lecture for the VMNH Foundation Thomas Jefferson Awards at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville, 4/8.

PENNSYLVANIA:
Smithsonian Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture Dr. Richard Kurin will present a 10th Affiliate Anniversary Plaque to the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh at their annual History Makers Award Dinner, 4/8.

CALIFORNIA:
Riverside Metropolitan Museum will feature a modern quilt on loan from the National Museum of the American Indian in its upcoming exhibition American Indian Women Artists: Beyond Craft, opening in Riverside, 4/7.

LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes will celebrate the opening of their new building with an exhibition including artifacts on loan from the National Museum of American History in Los Angeles, 4/15.

NEW YORK:
National Postal Museum curator Cheryl Ganz will present a public lecture, “Fan Dancing and Fan Belts: Selling Optimism at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair” at The Long Island Museum of American Art, History & Carriages in Stony Brook, 4/10.

NORTH CAROLINA:
The Charlotte Museum of History opens SITES’ Becoming American: Teenagers and Immigration exhibition in Charlotte, 4/23.

FLORIDA:
The South Florida Museum and Parker Manatee Aquarium opens SITES’ Farmers, Warriors, Builders:  The Hidden Life of Ants exhibition in Bradenton, 4/30.