Posts

Wiki + Affiliates: Help Represent the Under-Represented!

Wikipedia is created and edited by volunteers around the world—and Affiliates can help! As one of the web’s most visited reference sites, Wikipedia serves as a starting point for many individuals looking to learn about art, history, and science. Smithsonian Affiliations and the Smithsonian’s new Open Knowledge Coordinator,* Kelly Doyle, are looking for Affiliate partners to help add under-represented groups and topics on Wikipedia. And we need your help. Affiliate collections and archives contain countless local stories and images that can help tell a fuller and more accurate history.

The first way Affiliates can become involved is through the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative (AWHI). The AWHI illuminates women’s pivotal roles in building and sustaining our country and strives to be the nation’s most comprehensive undertaking to document, research, collect, display, and share the rich, complete and compelling story of women in America. With a digital-first mission and focus, the initiative uses technology to amplify a diversity of women’s voices to reach millions of people across the nation and around the world.

“Local and regional histories are an important part of the national story,” said Doyle. “We know that the collections of our Smithsonian Affiliates include notable women from their communities. Affiliates can provide this content to make sure these incredible women are represented online.”

Affiliates that contribute content will support the Smithsonian AHWI initiative and its goal to tell a more inclusive history. Each Wiki post will note the contributor’s connection as an Affiliate, and the post will be linked back to the Affiliate providing the content. We want to be clear that our Affiliates have amazing content to contribute to not only the Smithsonian initiative, but to the larger historical record of our nation’s women.

On October 10, 3:00 pm Eastern Time, we’ll host a call to introduce interested Affiliates to the Wikipedia project and talk about how Affiliates can help improve the quality and accuracy of Wikipedia entries. Together, our goal is to make sure those often overlooked in history are represented.

RSVP for the call here.

African American abolitionist and women’s rights activist, Sojourner Truth. This clearer, historically appropriate image was sourced from the National Portrait Gallery during the first AWHI Wikipedia edit-a-thon.

What you can expect on the call:

  1. Why is the Smithsonian investing in this initiative?
  2. How can Affiliates participate in Wiki edit-a-thons?
    • Host an event
    • Provide content
  3. Next steps

Want to learn a little bit more about similar successful projects? Check these blogs out:

* So, tell me, what does the Smithsonian Open Knowledge Coordinator do?
The Open Knowledge Coordinator (OKC) for the American Women’s History Initiative (AWHI) works to bring notable American women from Smithsonian collections into digital spaces, specifically the Wikimedia projects. Wikipedia is the 5th most visited website globally, with thousands of libraries, galleries, archives, and museums contributing content for free public use. However, Wikipedia’s content has a significant gender imbalance. Only 18% of biographies on Wikipedia English are about women. The OKC, together with curators and archivists across the Smithsonian, makes our content and collections about women visible on Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons. This allows for greater public access to our collections and gender equity online.

Questions prior to the call? Email affiliates@si.edu.

No cost poster exhibitions featuring “Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans And World War II” and more!

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) consistently offers traveling exhibitions to organizations across the U.S. and around the globe. But did you know SITES also develops and offers FREE poster exhibitions on a variety of subjects? Below we’ve compiled a list of poster exhibitions you can bring to your community free of charge:

Mochida Family, Courtesy of National Archives

Featured Poster Exhibition
Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II
This exhibition traces the story of Japanese national and Japanese American incarceration during World War II and the people who survived it. Young and old lived crowded together in hastily built camps, endured poor living conditions, and were under the constant watch of military guards for two and a half years. Meanwhile, brave Japanese American men risked their lives fighting for the United States. Some 40 years later, members of the Japanese American community led the nation to confront the wrong it had done—and urged Congress to make it right. Based on an original exhibition at the National Museum of American History, the Righting a Wrong poster exhibition centers around eight core questions that encourage viewers to engage in a dialogue about how this happened and if it could happen again. Embracing themes that are as relevant today as they were 75 years ago, the poster exhibition brings forth themes of identity, immigration, prejudice, civil rights, courage, and what it means to be an American. A limited quantity of printed posters are available on request at no cost. These posters are expected to be ready for shipping by Fall 2019. Request a copy here.

Additional available poster exhibitions:

  • A Place for All People
  • Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964
  • Choosing to Participate
  • City of Hope: Resurrection City and the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign
  • Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission
  • Earth from Space
  • From Sea to Shining Sea: 200 Years of Charting America’s Coasts
  • I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story
  • Journey Stories
  • World War I: Lessons and Legacies

Click here to see more information about each poster exhibition.

Poster exhibitions are available for download at sites.si.edu. Each poster exhibition includes design files to print posters, as well as programming resources. Recipients are required to complete a short survey about how the poster exhibition was used. Some poster exhibitions are also available as free printed copies. For more information, visit the website or contact SITES’ Poster Coordinator Stephanie McCoy-Johnson at (202) 633-3105 or mccoys@si.edu.

Congrats to the new class of Affiliate Visiting Professionals!

(This is an excerpt of a longer article in the Spring 2019 edition of The Affiliate newsletter)

2018 class

The 2018 Visiting Professional class.

In October 2018, a group of 10 Affiliate colleagues from around the country convened in Washington, D.C., for a two-week, transformative experience at the Smithsonian. They were selected to participate in the Smithsonian Affiliations Visiting Professionals Program (VPP), a unique professional development opportunity for mid-level museum staff at Affiliate organizations. With generous support from The Getty Foundation, the cohort focused on a single topic — using digital technologies to broaden access to art collections — and added a leadership and personal development component to the curriculum.

Participants were selected from Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, Alabama); Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, California); Museum of Latin American Art (Long Beach, California); Museum of the African Diaspora (San Francisco, California); Peoria Riverfront Museum (Peoria, Illinois); Schingoethe Center of Aurora University (Romeoville, Illinois); Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, Michigan); American Jazz Museum (Kansas City, Missouri); The Rockwell Museum (Corning, New York); and Springfield Museum of Art (Springfeld, Ohio).

They represented various departments within their organizations and agreed that discussions about workplace challenges made a significant impact on them, especially since it’s often not the thrust of academic degrees. “The leadership piece was so important — how to build allies, how to communicate, managing change, even being a good follower,” mused Charles Woods, educator at Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. “My biggest takeaway was understanding that you can lead from wherever you are.”

People smiling at a table

The 2018 VPP class hard at work at the Smithsonian Affiliations office.

Each participant came to the VPP with a specific organizational objective. Aspirations were high for all participants, but the program taught the cohort how to take achievable action steps and think about iterating over time. “When I came, I had no idea what to expect,” said Erin Shapiro, curator at the Springfield Museum of Art. “But now, I think we have a high chance of success for our project. I don’t say that lightly. Everybody here recognizes that this will be beneficial. I feel fortunate to have participated. The Smithsonian Affiliations team did a fantastic job. It’s an important program.”

With the support of The Getty Foundation, Smithsonian Affiliations will host a second cohort in 2019. We’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate and welcome the 2019 class from the following Affiliate organizations:

Jewel Clark, Heard Museum (Phoenix, Arizona)

Susan Bolaños, Museum of Latin American Art (Long Beach, California)

Melanie Tran, California State Railroad Museum (Sacramento, California)

Melissa de Bie, History Colorado (Denver, Colorado)

Tasha Caswell, Connecticut Historical Society (Hartford, Connecticut)

Teresa Stenstrup, National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Elizabeth Barrett Sullivan, Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, Michigan)

Kendra Newhall, Montana Historical Society (Helena, Montana)

Nicole Markham, International Tennis Hall of Fame (Newport, Rhode Island)

Katie Staib, Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (Spokane, Washington)

Congratulations! We’re excited to meet them all and can’t wait for the collaboration to begin!

Using Artifacts to Inspire Critical Thinking

This article has been re-posted from the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access page. It was written by Mary Manning, College and Career Readiness Specialist, at Cleveland History Center of the Western Reserve Historical Society, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Ohio.

You don’t need to be a museum curator to use artifacts in a classroom. If you decide to use visual thinking strategies, which offer powerful ways to unravel all the symbolic power of artistic images, they may not seem to apply to artifacts, especially those used in daily life that may not carry symbolic meanings. However, artifacts are the most often forgotten yet most compelling kind of primary source—they may not tell us a story in words and figures, but they can lead us down trails of questions that can stimulate critical thinking and research in the classroom.

Sasaki Family Photograph, 1960.

Sasaki Family Photograph, 1960.
Members of the Sasaki family are shown in their kitchen, preparing the actual cakes and treats that were made from the sticky mashed rice created in the mochi barrel. Cleveland History Center.

Making Sense of Mochi

When I began to design a Learning Lab collection that featured Asian Pacific American stories from the Cleveland History Center’s collections, I found one such compelling artifact—a mochi barrel used by the Sasakis, a Japanese-American family that lived in Cleveland, Ohio. At around two feet tall, our mochi barrel is a deceptively heavy contraption of wood curved around the cement dish inside. Inside the lid, a series of Japanese characters confirms that the barrel  was made in Cleveland in 1947. I became fascinated by this object, so I began exploring its history through all the questions that it brought to my mind.

First, who was the Sasaki family? How did they come to Cleveland? I knew that much of Cleveland’s Japanese population arrived during World War II, and indeed, after being interned on the west coast, they were placed in Cleveland through the local War Relocation Authority office and efforts of local churches. Telling the story of the Sasakis and their mochi barrel meant combing through these local records, seeking references to the specific family or to situations that mirrored their experience. I also realized that I couldn’t explain how the barrel was used.

After some searching, I learned that making mochi could be a very intensive process, but one that has persisted through centuries of Japanese New Year celebrations. Telling the story of the mochi barrel then became about the process and science behind its function. The more I learned the more I saw these lines of questioning coming together: I wondered if their oppressive experience in internment camps made even more important to preserve cultural rituals like mochi making in their lives.

Questioning Through Artifacts

If you ever find one compelling object or image, don’t hesitate to bring it into your classroom, and use it to build out a lesson. Students are curious; when you let them observe an object for some time, and then ask what they see, they often respond with questions that cut to the core of why the object exists in the first place. They are often able to intuit the purpose of an unfamiliar object from what they already know. They can use their questions as a guide to research the historical context that fills in gaps of knowledge about the object and, potentially, creates more questions. In this process, there doesn’t always have to be just one story—strands of history inherently relate because they all tie back to that one original object.

Through this process, students seek a holistic view of an artifact or image, weighing information for value and bias and how it does or does not fit into the object’s story.  There may be no bad questions, but there are certainly deeper questions that lead to higher-quality answers. By pushing students to question what they see through an intensive engagement with a single object, you hone a process of learning to interpret and draw meaning that enhances the way that students view the world around them. The Sasaki family and their mochi barrel provide the perfect example of why these skills serve students so well. The Sasakis do not play a role in any of the great triumphs and magnificent failures that would characterize a history of Cleveland in the twentieth century, but the ways in which they experienced internment and remade their lives tell us much about what is possible to find in between the events in our history books.

The Cleveland History Center is a Smithsonian Affiliate museum that collaborated on the Teacher Creativity Studio program. This program received Federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

Kudos Affiliates! February 2019

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

FUNDING

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced $14.8 million in grants to support 253 humanities projects in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. An additional $47.5 million was awarded to fund 55 state humanities council partners. The following Affiliates are included in the awards:

Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum (Chicago, IL): $178,961
Extending Zooniverse.org’s online platform to allow individual crowdsourcing project teams to review, compare, and edit transcriptions, and to work directly with raw text data generated from community transcription projects.

Michigan State University Museum (East Lansing, MI): $5,968
The purchase of two storage cabinets for a recently acquired collection of 433 items from Europe and the United States that were made or used by, or that represent, the Romani people.

Ohio History Connection (Columbus, OH) $6,000
The purchase of archival supplies to preserve the 800 dolls in the recently donated Lillian M. Bartok Doll Collection.

Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, Inc. (San Juan, Puerto Rico): $10,000
Development of a long-term preservation plan specific to the library and archives, physical relocation of collections, purchase of supplies, digital reformatting of VHS tapes, and preservation training for staff.

International Tennis Hall of Fame (Newport, RI): $6,000
A preservation assessment of a museum collection of approximately 30,000 artifacts housed in the historic Newport Casino, site of the first U.S. National Lawn Tennis Championship in 1881.

Fort Worth Museum of Science and History (Fort Worth, TX): $6,000
A preservation assessment of history, archival, and science collections related to Texas and the Southwest. The collections comprise more than 180,000 items, with emphasis on pre-Columbian, Native American, and ranch and agricultural life in Texas and the southwestern United States, as well as Fort Worth history.

Cape Fear Museum (Wilmington, NC) was awarded $3,000 from International Paper’s Riegelwood Mill and the International Paper Foundation. Funds will be used to enhance the Uplands Forest section of the Michael Jordan Discovery Gallery including hands-on, interactive components, construction materials, and print displays.

The Putnam Museum & Science Center (Davenport, IA) received a $200,000 endowment fund which will give the museum annual perpetual grants. From the estate of Louise Fidyke Potter McCarty-a grant of about $3,000 a year will be given to help support arts- and culture-related programs and projects.

AFL Telecommunications awarded a grant of $3,500 to The Children’s Museum of the Upstate location in Spartanburg, SC, to support after-school STEM education programs. The FIRST LEGO League program provides fourth through eighth graders the opportunity to learn more about science and engineering, and help spark an interest in STEM fields at a young age.

Springfield Museums (Springfield, MA) received $100,000 for literacy-based interactive exhibits in The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. The state grant will allow the museum to add several bilingual interactive exhibits.

Kay Simpson, president of the Springfield Museums, center, is joined by state legislators and representatives of the museums in praising a $100,000 state allocation for expansion of bilingual interactive exhibits for the Dr. Seuss Museum. (Peter Goonan / The Republican)

Bank of America presented $480,000 in grants to several nonprofits in the Philadelphia region in celebration of Giving Tuesday including $40,000 to the African American Museum in Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA).

Abbe Museum (Bar Harbor, ME) received a $10,000 Enterprise Grant from the Maine Office of Tourism. The funds will be used to expand the reach of the Abbe Museum Indian Market – both before and after the May event – contributing to the wider tourism goals of the region. Projects include a podcast and online press room.

RCB Bank is partnering with the Cosmosphere International Science Education Center & Space Museum (Hutchinson, KS) to award a ten camp scholarship to students in sixth through eighth grade to attend a Cosmosphere Camp this summer.

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION

The USS Constitution Museum (Charlestown, MA) has been selected to receive a pro bono consulting study by Harvard Business School Association of Boston’s Community Action Partners (CAP). The study is scheduled to begin this fall. For the past 18 months the USS Constitution Museum has been working with the National Park Service, U.S. Navy, and Waltham-based design firm Sasaki Partners on a plan to make the Charlestown Navy Yard experience more unified, engaging, and relevant. The CAP study will look at the museum’s proposal to move to the Hoosac Warehouse next to USS Constitution.

The Abbe Museum received an excellence in marketing award from the DownEast Acadia Tourism Association (DART) for its new Abbe Museum Indian Market. DART recognized the market as an important event for the region’s tourism and creative economies.

Hyperallergic revealed its’ Best of 2018: Top 20 Exhibitions Across the United States featuring Unsettled at the Anchorage Museum (Anchorage, AK).

Conner Prairie Interactive History Park (Fishers, IN) has been named a Site of Conscience by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. Conner Prairie is now one of more than 250 members across 65 countries to be honored for its high standards and initiatives to connect history to current events.

SITES Corner: New Exhibitions for a New Year

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) has some exciting exhibitions for 2019 and beyond. Check out what’s available and bring a Smithsonian exhibition to your neighborhood soon.

Soldier with painting.

Courtesy Matt Mitchell.

100 Faces of War
Featuring 100 portraits of Americans from every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, the subjects represent a cross section of those who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan, and reflect a variety of military branches, job descriptions, and personal backgrounds. Each oil painting is coupled with a personal statement from the participant to create a fuller portrait. Tour through fall 2020.
For more information, contact Ed Liskey, liskeye@si.edu, 202.633.3142

Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill: Photographs by Jerry Dantzic
The exhibition offers a rare glimpse into the iconic jazz musician’s public and private life just two years before her death at the age of 44. Includes 65 pigment prints with labels, panels, objects, ephemera, projected video, and vinyl excerpts from the work of renowned writer/author, Zadie Smith. Tour launches 2019. Special discounts for February 16, 2019 to May 12, 2019 ($10,000) and for September 29, 2019 to January 5, 2020 ($15,000), all plus shipping.
For more information, contact Michelle Torres-Carmona, torrescm@si.edu, 202.633.3181.

Girl in Red by R. Blackburn

Robert Blackburn, Girl in Red, 1950, Lithograph, 18 1/4 x 13 1/2, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Photograph by Karl Peterson

Robert Blackburn & Modern American Printmaking
Explore the work of the Robert Blackburn, the first Master Printer for the Universal Limited Art Editions, and founder of his own highly influential Printmaking Workshop. Viewers will trace his artistic journey leading up to and during the “graphics boom” in American printmaking and his later experimental works. Seventy original prints by Blackburn and his contemporaries are included from significant public and private collections. Tour launches May 2020.
For more information, contact Minnie Russell, russellm@si.edu, 202-633-3160.

The Way We Worked
We are pleased to expand the offering of The Way We Worked, a highly successful exhibition from our Museum on Main Street program, to qualified venues. The Way We Worked explores how work became such a central element in American culture by tracing the many changes that affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years. The exhibition draws from the National Archives’ rich photography collections to tell this compelling story. Tour launches summer 2019.
For more information, contact Minnie Russell, russellm@si.edu, 202-633-3160.

Photo of children working.

Photo by Lewis Hine, 1909. Courtesy National Archives, Records of the Children’s Bureau