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¡Escuchame! 5 Questions With Dr. Kathleen Franz

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is working on a new initiative, Escuchame: The History of Spanish Language Broadcasting in the U.S.  The museum has rich collections related to television, but few that tell the story of Spanish-language broadcasting in the U.S. This initiative will document stories from early Telemundo and Univision stations as well as other public and independent stations. Documenting these stories will help show the influence these stations have had on the national narrative and the way the history of American television is written.

Portrait of Dr. Kathleen Franz

Dr. Kathleen Franz, Chair of Work & Industry and Curator of Business History at the National Museum of American History.

To understand more, and how our Affiliate network may participate, I asked five questions of Dr. Kathleen Franz, Chair of Work & Industry and Curator of Business History at the National Museum of American History.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be interested in your area of expertise?
In graduate school, I studied with one of the leading historians of advertising history in the U.S. and really became enthusiastic about the history of television and advertising as business history but also as popular culture. My work sits at the intersections of those two things.

Your current project centers on capturing the history of Spanish-language television in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. What sparked that idea and why is it important to capture this story?
I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and saw first-hand the long history and power of Spanish-language broadcasting in the U.S. through the pioneering station of KWEX whose roots go back to the 1950s. However, general and popular histories of television often leave out the history of Spanish-language TV in the golden era of the 1950s and 1960s. So, building an archive that housed, preserved, and made available the stories of women and men who created stations and the networks is really important, because the earliest Spanish-language broadcasting goes back to the era of radio in the 1930s, and the earliest television stations are there in the golden era with the first successful network, Spanish International Network (SIN), created in 1961.

A common thread to this huge collection of materials—time-worn press credentials, painted tennis shoes, photographs, mic flags, scripts—is that they represent decades of Spanish-language broadcasting from the network Telemundo. (NMAH)

What have you enjoyed most about this initiative? What has been an unexpected discovery, if any?
First, I have two wonderful collaborators at the museum, Dr. Mireya Loza, curator, Department of Work and Industry, and Melinda Machado, director, Office of Communications and Marketing, who have helped make contact with stations around the country and we’ve done the oral history and object collecting as a team. I’ve learned so much from working with them and meeting the various people who run the stations and put the programming on every day. We also had tremendous support from a private donor — of the Nicolas family in San Antonio who founded KCOR in 1954— the Smithsonian’s Latino Center, Telemundo, and Univision. I can’t name everyone here but I am so grateful for the support of the networks! This has been a serious collaboration to capture and preserve this history. One of the best, and unexpected discoveries, was a painting of the Televisa studios in Mexico City commissioned by Emilio Nicolas in the early 1960s. It’s so unusual to have an artist’s rendition of a TV set and the image captures the look and feel of that exciting era in television. Mr. Nicolas traveled regularly to Mexico City to produce programming at the studio and bring it back to the US Spanish-speaking market for SIN.

What would you like to share with Affiliates? And what would you like Affiliates to share with you?
I’m always delighted to talk to local audiences and I would be happy to talk about the collecting and sharing resources with Affiliates. In turn, it would help us to work with Affiliates to do collecting or memory days at their sites, especially ones who are in cities with long-running Spanish-language stations. We really want to capture what audiences thought and how they viewed and used the stations in their own lives.

What is your next project and what are you looking forward to with it?
Dr. Loza and I would like to publish an edited volume of the oral histories and we’ll be working on that over the next 18 months or so. I’m also currently working on the National Museum of American History’s major women’s history initiative exhibition for the centennial of Women’s suffrage. That exhibition will open at the museum in 2020 and then travel the country starting in 2021.

Dr. Franz is open to the possibility of visiting our Affiliate network in the fall to share more about this initiative. Do you have connections to Spanish-language television history? Contact your National Outreach Manager for more information about bringing Dr. Franz to your neighborhood.

Telemundo Microphone cubes

This series of microphone cubes used over the years by Telemundo 51 WSCV-TV in Florida was donated by Marilys Llanos, senior political reporter at at the station. (Photo by Laura Duff, Smithsonian Institution)

Kudos Affiliates! June 2018

Congratulations to these Affiliates on their recent accomplishments! Do you have a kudos to share? Please send potential kudos to Aaron Glavas, GlavasC@si.edu.

Funding

Conner Prairie (Fishers, Indiana) announced a partnership with Ritz Charles to invest approximately $3 million to renovate and expand Eli Lilly’s historic Chinese House. Support for the project includes a $500,000 pledge from Jay and Nancy Ricker, the founders of Ricker Oil Company, Inc., and a $500,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc.

Rhode Island Council for the Humanities announced a total of $136,429 in new grants to 14 humanities initiatives across the state including the Rhode Island Historical Society (Providence). The Society received a $12,000 Documentary Films grant to support films that preserve Rhode Island’s stories and bring its history to life.  The funding goes towards the development of the film Triple Decker, A New England Love Story.

DaVinci at New Mexico Museum of Natural History and ScienceThe New Mexico Humanities Council awarded a $5,000 grant to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science to support its series of education programs, Da Vinci Dialogues. The Dialogues consist of public lectures, panel discussions, and workshops that illustrate the many facets of Da Vinci’s genius as an artist, inventor, and scientist.

Awards and Recognition

Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area (SSNHA) has named the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium (Dubuque, Iowa) the “Silos & Smokestacks People’s Site of the Year.”

During the Pennsylvania Museums Annual Statewide Museum Conference, the winners of statewide Institutional Achievement Awards were announced including two Senator John Heinz History Center sites. Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village was recognized for its newest educational curriculum, First Peoples: Archaeology at the Meadowcroft Rockshelter. The Fort Pitt Museum at Point State Park, Downtown, was recognized for its newest exhibition, From Maps to Mermaids: Carved Powder Horns in Early America.

Leadership Changes

W. James Burns has been named the new executive director of the Arizona Historical Society (Phoenix, Arizona). Dr. Burns comes to the Arizona Historical Society from the University of Arizona, where he served as Director of the Center for Creative Photography and the University of Arizona Museum of Art.

W. James Burns, Ph.D., Executive Director, Arizona Historical Society, Phoenix, AZ

Join the Universe of Learning

Universe of Learning logo

Smithsonian Affiliations, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and funded through NASA’s Universe of Learning, is launching a new, two-year science literacy pilot program and looking for participants. Funding is available–up to $2,000 per year– for seven Affiliate organizations to use resources from the Universe of Learning site to develop programs exploring  art, history, and natural science. The goal of the pilot is to create sustainable models of innovative STEM learning for youth, families, and lifelong learners.

To participate, interested candidates must complete three of  seven professional development online webinars.* The webinars are hosted by astrophysics scientists and educators and discuss NASA’s three main questions: How does the Universe work? How did we get here? Are we alone? An accompanying online forum will further strengthen the discussion topics and address how your organization can best use the available resources to develop and share your program model.

Webinars are every two weeks on Wednesday at 2pm EST (the next one is on Sept 13th). *Two out of the seven webinars have already occurred. However, they were recorded and we encourage for your institution to partake in this great opportunity.

The application opens in November and is only available to Smithsonian Affiliates.

For any inquiries, please email Patty Arteaga at ArteagaP@si.edu.

Affiliates in the news! July edition

Congratulations to these Affiliates making headlines this month! Do you have a Smithsonian collaboration in the news? Email Elizabeth Bugbee, BugbeeE@si.edu, and submit your clipping for review. Each month we compile our newsmakers and distribute in our Affiliate eNewsletter.

Uncrating an exhibition

Rene Rodgers, curator of exhibits and publications, uncrates a Suffolk push mower that is part of the new Smithsonian exhibit called “Things Come Apart” that opens this weekend at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Photo-Earl Neikirk/BHC

Birthplace of Country Music Museum (Bristol, VA)
VIDEO- Birthplace of Country Music Museum hosting Smithsonian exhibit
“They will start looking around at some of the things that they use every day and really start to think about how they work and how theyve gotten to that point from where they started and actually just think about the way things are made,”Dr. René Rodgers, Museum Director and Head Curator for the Birthplace of Country Music Museum said.

Smithsonian exhibit opens Saturday at BCMM
“It’s one of those exhibits the Smithsonian Institution creates to travel around the country to various museums,” said René Rodgers, curator of exhibits and publications at the museum. “We are the third museum to have it. It’s just come to us from the Kansas City Public Library. The exhibit is based on the work of photographer and artist Todd McLellan. He has taken the idea of common, everyday objects to look at their functionality, their design, the change in technology, and he’s done that by taking them down to their component parts and creating artistic renditions of them.”

South Dakota State Historical Society (Pierre, SD)
Former Smithsonian director in Pierre on July 24
“As an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, we are delighted to bring Mr. Glass to South Dakota,” Jay Smith, director of the Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, stated in a release. “He brings with him a message about the value of saving, preserving and visiting historic places which is an important aspect of the mission of the South Dakota State Historical Society. We will be discussing some of our future plans with him as well, so this is an exciting opportunity for our museum.”

Tellus Science Museum (Cartersville, GA)
SMITHSONIAN’S ‘ART OF THE AIRPORT TOWER’ CAPTURES THEIR UNIQUE ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNS
In the midst of a nationwide tour, the Tellus Science Museum near Atlanta is currently hosting the exhibit until September 17. The Smithsonian affiliate is home to many aviation and space flown hardware. “This is a fascinating exhibit – it combines photography, architecture, and aviation in unexpected ways,” Tellus Science Museum Executive Director Jose Santamaria said on Sunday. “It is very unique and the images are stunning.

Art of the Airport Tower exhibition

Carolyn Russo, National Air and Space Museum photographer, in front of her exhibit “Art of the Airport Tower.”

 

Virginia Museum of Natural History (Martinsville, VA)
Prehistoric adventure headed to Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville
There will also be a Stegosaurus display from the Smithsonian and fossils collected by scientists in the field.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West (Cody, WY)
Firearms experts gather for Cody museum symposium
July 17 will feature speakers and session leaders from the following institutions: Cody Firearms Museum, National Rifle Association’s Museums Division, Autry Museum of the American West, Springfield Armory National Historic Site, United States Marshals Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Smithsonian Institution National Firearms Collection, Colonial Williamsburg , Royal Armouries Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Pearl earrings from designer brenda smith

Southern Charm,” pearl earrings from designer Brenda Smith, are among the items on loan from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and included in a traveling exhibit that runs through next March at the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art in Elmhurst.
Courtesy of Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary art

Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art (Elmhurst, IL)
Smithsonian gems on display in Elmhurst
“Most of the pieces are either donated or gifted to the (Smithsonian) museum,” said Asher. “We’re a Smithsonian affiliate.” Asher said she worked with Smithsonian gem curator Russell Feather to select the pieces visitors will see in the “Smithsonian Gems” exhibit.

The Children’s Museum of the Upstate (Greenville, SC) (VIDEO)
Children’s Museum of the Upstate provides perfect atmosphere for solar eclipse
They will also have pinhole projectors, a live stream from NASA in the Smithsonian and activities in Spark!Lab focusing on women in astronomy. “We are an official viewing site of NASA, which means that we are able to have some NASA scientists come,” Halverson told WYFF News 4’s Allyson Powell Thursday.

Tellus Science Museum and Booth Western Art Museum (both in Cartersville, GA)
Travel: Consider Cartersville, Georgia
Despite traveling extensively, I’m still impressed when I discover big things in small places. Cartersville, Ga., a city of 20,000 residents about 40 minutes north of Atlanta, has major draws. It’s the smallest town in the U.S. with two Smithsonian Affiliate Museums. The Booth Western Art Museum houses the largest permanent exhibition space for Western art in the entire country — and what a fabulous place it is.

Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, PA)
Apollo 11 module will visit Pittsburgh next year — after a makeover
Before the Apollo 11 command module embarks on a cross-country tour of four museums — including the Senator John Heinz History Center in the Strip District — it’s getting a makeover for the first time since it arrived in 1976 at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, NPR reported Monday .

Things Come Together for “Things Come Apart”

Disassembled flip clock

Flip clock made by Sanyo in the 1970s, component count: 426 © Todd McLellan

Special thanks to Rene Rodgers at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum for sharing this blog with us. Things Come Apart, organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, is on view at the museum through October 8, 2017.

“Things Come Apart is not our “usual” type of exhibit, one where the focus is on the history of early country music, the musical legacy of this region, or other related social and cultural topics. However, one of our aims with the museum’s Special Exhibits Gallery is to also choose interesting and engaging exhibits that will serve to bring new audiences into the museum and expand the educational resources offered to our local community. With this type of exhibit, we also work hard to find ways to relate the exhibit’s subject to our content or to music, for instance through panels and artifact supplements or the related programming and outreach.”

Read the whole blog post here.