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Coming up in Affiliateland in November 2017

We’re thankful for all the activity in Affiliateland this month. Happy Thanksgiving Affiliates!

D.C.
Two Affiliates are loaning objects to The Sweat of their Face: Portraying American Workers exhibition at the Smithsonian. The Lowell National Historical Park has lent a wood engraving by Winslow Homer and the High Museum has lent a photograph by Peter Sekaer and an oil painting by Francis Hyman Criss. Opening at the National Portrait Gallery, 11.3.

CALIFORNIA
The San Diego History Center opens the Mail Call exhibition (SITES) which explores the history of America’s military postal system, in San Diego, 11.4.

MASSACHUSETTS
Richard Kurin, Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large, will lecture on his book, Hope Diamond: The Legendary History of a Cursed Gem at the Springfield Museums, 11.5.

NATIONWIDE
Teens at five Affiliates continue to advise the Smithsonian through the Secretary’s Youth Advisory Council, meeting again via videoconference from Fort Worth, Corning, Cincinnati, Dearborn and Greenville, 11.8.

GEORGIA

From the Ocean Optimism initiative website, oceanoptimism.org

Dr. Nancy Knowlton, senior scientist emerita from the Smithsonian’s Tropical Research Institute in Panama, will give a Science on Tap lecture to discuss the Ocean Optimism Initiative, at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, 11.14.

ALABAMA
A new Smithsonian Spark!Lab, an immersive, interactive place for exploring invention, will open at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, 11.24.

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.

Affiliates in the news!

Congrats to these Affiliates making news!  Each month we highlight Affiliate-Smithsonian and Affiliate-Affiliate collaborations making headlines. If you have a clipping highlighting a collaboration with the Smithsonian or with a fellow Affiliate you’d like to have considered for the Affiliate blog, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee.

Dome at the Arab American National Museum. Courtesy of AANM.

Dome at the Arab American National Museum. Courtesy of AANM.

Arab American National Museum (Dearborn, MI)
Dearborn’s Arab American Museum celebrates 10 years of national significance
… the preeminent museum dedicated to documenting and preserving the Arab American story is located in Dearborn. The Arab American National Museum (AANM), the only Smithsonian Affiliate in Southeast Michigan, will celebrate its ten year anniversary this May. As part of the milestone, the museum will roll out a year-long series of events and renovations. “These are huge institutions that tell the American narrative and we’re always striving to include the Arab American story as part of this larger discussion,” says Akmon. “We’re based in Dearborn, but we’re a national institution.”

Birthplace of Country Music Museum (Bristol, TN/VA)
Smithsonian exhibit offers wide range of music styles at BCMM
Visitors to a new exhibit at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum can play albums on a record player or pick up the spoons, a washboard, strum a guitar or try their hand at the banjo or fiddle. New Harmonies, a Smithsonian exhibit that includes a wide range of American music styles, opened Wednesday and will appear there for the next six months.

Interactive Smithsonian exhibit at Country Music Museum
This should be music to your ears! Bristol’s Birthplace of Country Music Museum is showing off an exhibit that used to belong to the Smithsonian in Washington.

New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music
New Harmonies was once part of Museum on Main Street, a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation, and local host institutions. Carol Harsh, director of Museums on Main Street, was instrumental in facilitating the transfer of the exhibit to the BCMM. “The exhibit has found a permanent home at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum,” said Harsh. “We feel it was a perfect fit.”

Photograph of newly built Biomuseo biodiversity museum in Panama City, Panama. Photo by: Fernando Aldo, September, 2014.

Photograph of newly built Biomuseo biodiversity museum in Panama City, Panama. Photo by: Fernando Aldo, September, 2014.

Biomuseo (Panama City, Panama)
Meet Biomuseo: the world’s first biodiversity museum
George Angehr, the Curator of Exhibits at Biomuseo and an ornithologist from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, played an integral role in developing the scientific content found in the eight exhibitions in the museum. He said Panama’s unique position made it the natural choice for the world’s first biodiversity museum…. In a 2015 interview with mongabay.com, Angehr talked about what visitors can expect when visiting Biomuseo and how the new museum could raise biodiversity awareness and further conservation efforts in Panama and beyond.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Raleigh, NC)
Before There Were Crocodiles, There Was the “Carolina Butcher”
But this newfound ancestor of the modern croc had anything but a docile temperament, according to a study by paleontologists at North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. At about 231 million years old, the newly described species offers fresh insight into crocodile evolution and behavior in the days before the reign of the dinosaurs.

Audubon program to focus on ‘E-mammal’ project
The speaker will be Megan Baker-Whatton, who is the citizen science coordinator of the eMammal project at the Smithsonian Institution’s Conservation Biology Institute…She will provide an overview of the e-Mammal project, which links citizen volunteers with researchers at the Smithsonian Institution and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences to document mammals throughout the mid-Atlantic region, and soon, the entire country.

Smithsonian Science How?: Arthropod Adaptations (VIDEO)
The Smithsonian Institution selected the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences as a partner for “Smithsonian Science How?” a new program to deliver real-world science directly into classrooms through free, interactive live webcasts and classroom resources. …This presentation, “Arthropod Adaptations,” featuring Bill Reynolds, Curator, Coordinator, & Containment Director of the Arthropod Zoo, originally aired March 13, 2014. It was followed by “Inside the Insect Zoo” featuring Dan Babbitt, manager of the O. Orkin Insect Zoo and Butterfly Pavilion at the National Museum of Natural History. 

Watch live streaming video from naturalsciences at livestream.com

Smithsonian Science How?: Lemurs  (VIDEO)
“How to Eat Like a Lemur” with Chris Smith, education specialist at Duke Lemur Center, is the second presentation in the series. The Smithsonian’s Briana Pobiner will follow with “Early Human Diets” at 11am.

Heritage Farm Museum and Village (Huntington, WV)
Heritage Farm linked to Smithsonian
Heritage Farm Museum and Village has achieved a new level of recognition and entered a new realm of possibilities. It’s been named West Virginia’s first Smithsonian Institution Affiliate, a distinction that will link Heritage Farm with the many resources and learning opportunities available through the Smithsonian, said Audy Perry, the new executive director of the Heritage Farm Foundation.

Heritage Farm adds Smithsonian connection
Being accepted as part of the Smithsonian network adds an impressive “seal of approval” for the museum project begun by Henriella and the late Mike Perry almost 20 years ago. As their son Audy Perry noted last week, it also marks a “new beginning” for Heritage Farm and a chance to share the Appalachian pioneer story more broadly and more richly than ever before.

A student plays at the new Spark!Lab. Feidt/APRN

A student plays at the new Spark!Lab. Feidt/APRN

Anchorage Museum (Anchorage, AK)
New Anchorage Museum “lab” sparks innovation
“This is not just banging things that’s going on here,” says Arthur Molella, the director of the Lemelson Center at the Smithsonian, which created the Spark!Lab. “This is all done with a purpose. Cause some of the same energies that are happening here — essentially this curiosity, a disciplined curiosity begins here and carries on through the rest of your life.” Molella says that curiosity and creativity lead to innovation and invention. That’s why his center worked with educators to create the Spark!Lab. They’re helping museums around the United States set up their own localized versions. The Anchorage version, the sixth in the country, will soon include activities focused on the innovation required to live in the Arctic.

FORD MOTOR COMPANY FUND, SMITHSONIAN BRING SPARK!LAB TO ANCHORAGE, OPENING THE DOORS TO INNOVATION AND INVENTION
Spark!Lab, the hands-on invention experience from the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, is opening its newest location at the Anchorage Museum in Alaska. With the support of Ford Motor Company Fund, Spark!Lab will engage children and families in the invention process through science experiments, games, activities and special programs, such as SparkNite, a look at the innovation and inventions of Alaska’s history and Arctic environment.

New Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Director, Melissa Chiu, at the Frost Art Museum. Photography by Rodrigo Gaya

New Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Director, Melissa Chiu, at the Frost Art Museum. Photography by Rodrigo Gaya

Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University (Miami, FL)
“Making A Museum in the 21st Century” with Melissa Chiu at Frost Art Museum FIU
The Steven and Dorothea Green Critics’ Lecture Series launched its 34th season at Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU with guest-lecturer Melissa Chiu’s presentation of “Making A Museum in the 21st Century.” Dr. Chiu is the new director of the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C

The Mexican Museum (San Francisco, CA)
The Mexican Museum Hires Cayetana S. Gomez as President and Chief Executive Officer
“We are extremely pleased to have Cayetana join our team,” said Andrew M. Kluger, Chairman of The Mexican Museum Board of Trustees. “Along with her unparalleled communication skills and a vast network of professional relationships throughout the United States and Mexico, she has also held significant leadership positions for some of Mexico’s most important art, culture, and media institutions.”

Mexican Museum Set To House Over 18,000 Pieces Of Art In San Francisco Gets Lease Approved
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a lease in the city’s Yerba Buena neighborhood for The Mexican Museum, expected to house more than 18,000 pieces of art and artifacts from across the Americas.

Mid-America Science Museum (Hot Springs, AR)
Mid-America Science Museum reopens with new look, unique exhibits
It’s a brand new day at the Mid-America Science Museum. Closed since Aug. 11 for renovations, the museum opened its doors Saturday, offering more than 60 exhibits, displays and experiment stations to visitors of all ages.

The exhibition presents paintings, arms and armour and modern work of art. Lakhpreet Kaur/HT

The exhibition presents paintings, arms and armour and modern work of art. Lakhpreet Kaur/HT

UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio, Texas)
Sikh artwork on display at Texas University
Developed by Smithsonian Institution and sponsored by the Sikh Heritage Foundation, the exhibition presents paintings; arms and armour; traditional textiles and dress; musical instruments; jewellery; sacred texts; and modern works of art, apart from a scale model of the Golden Temple. “The bulk of the exhibit originated at the Smithsonian Institution, with whom we’re an affiliate.

Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science (Miami, Florida)
Miami Eyes Huge Tourist Draw With $300M Museum
“The museum has always been a community-led initiative to excite and educate greater Miami and its global visitors. It will enrich the lives of south Floridians and visitors by offering in-depth learning experiences and bring the best global resources to south Florida, creating a link between the education, tourism and business communities.”

HistoryMiami (Miami, Florida)
Keeper of the Past
HistoryMiami has a lot of history. Previously known as the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, this Smithsonian-affiliated museum, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is the oldest nonreligious cultural institution in Miami-Dade County. In fact, the museum is now observing its 75th anniversary, and a big announcement is expected during the museum’s annual membership meeting on April 23.

Flushing Town Hall (Flushing, New York)
Flushing Town Hall meets $35,000 campaign challenge
Flushing Town Hall has met its campaign goal of raising $35,000 to match funding from an anonymous donor ahead of its Feb. 28 deadline. Since September, more than 300 people made contributions by mail or online or dropped off donations. By Feb. 10, the organization had raised more than $41,000.

Kenosha Public Museum (Kenosha, Wisconsin)
FREE space exhibit, Kenosha Family Fun, Wisconsin tourist attraction, Stunning Satellite Images
Earth from Space illustrates how satellite imagery is gathered and used to expand mankind’s understanding of life on Earth. It also explores the remote-sensing technology used to gather the images and describes the individual satellites whose images are on display. Brought to you courtesy of the United States Geological Survey and the Smithsonian Institution.

Kenosha Public Museum Hosts Smithsonian Earth from Space Exhibition
The Earth From Space exhibit is on display at the Kenosha Public Museum now through June 21, 2015. Stunning satellite images and artifacts reveal our dynamic, ever-changing planet.

Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (Spokane, Washington)
[Spokane Public Radio spot] From the Studio: The art of Joe Feddersen
Cecile Ganteaume, Curator, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), Washington, DC and Multi-Media Artist and Colville Confederated Tribal Member Joe Feddersen spoke with Verne Windham on Friday morning about the Museum of Arts and Culture’s three-days of special programs focusing on American Indian Basketry.

Native Film Fest logo.

Native Film Fest logo.

Agua Caliente Cultural Museum (Palm Springs, California)
NativeFest coming of age with mature content
The festival’s mission, Hammond said, is to explore indigenous issues, such as the exploitation of Native land and sovereignty, and showcase indigenous filmmakers from around the world.

Native FilmFest: a celebration of diversity
When you have a guest programmer from the Smithsonian Institution and one of the featured films is produced by the Sundance Institute, those strategic alliances give the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum’s 14th Annual Native FilmFest “street cred” that would be the envy of many other film festivals around the country.

Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta, GA); Cincinnati Museum Center (Cincinnati, OH); St. Augustine, FL (St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum)
Top US family vacation destinations named
The best family-friendly vacation spots in the US as chosen by 2,000 families from across the country. Animal attractions, science museums, and tourist towns resonated with families this year.

U.S. Space & Rocket Center (Huntsville, AL)
Space & Rocket Center celebrates 45 years with cake & Biergarten
In 1968, the state’s citizens voted to finance construction of the Center, which houses the National Historic Landmark Saturn V Moon Rocket, the Apollo 16 Command Module, the Pathfinder space shuttle display and many other exhibits. The Center is a Smithsonian Affiliate Museum and is the Official Visitor Center for Marshall Space Flight Center.

Vintage Photos celebrate the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s 45 years
Enjoy a gallery of vintage historical photos from the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s 45 years of educating America and the world about the NASA and the U.S. Space program. The photos begin with the groundbreaking for the Alabama Space & Rocket Center and include visits by astronauts and celebrities to the center.

Sullivan Museum and History Center (Northfield, VT)
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum curator to speak at Norwich
Norwich University’s Sullivan Museum and History Center, Vermont’s only Smithsonian Affiliate, will host Dr. Tom Crouch, Senior Curator of Aeronautics at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum for a lunch-and-learn on Wednesday, April 8 at noon in Milano Ballroom, located in Roberts Hall.

affiliates in the news- November 2014

Congrats to these Affiliates making news! Each month we highlight Affiliate-Smithsonian and Affiliate-Affiliate collaborations making headlines.  If you have a clipping highlighting a collaboration with the Smithsonian or with a fellow Affiliate you’d like to have considered for the Affiliate blog, please contact Elizabeth Bugbee.

Poverty Point State Historic Site (West Carroll, Louisiana)
Poverty Point to celebrate World Heritage Site designation Saturday
According to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, Poverty Point is the 22nd World Heritage Site in the United States. Dardenne’s office states that Poverty Point was the U.S. Department of the Interior’s lone nomination for world heritage status-adding to the site’s accolades as a National Historic Landmark, National Monument and Smithsonian Affiliate. 

George Catlin, Buffalo Chase, Bulls Making Battle with Men and Horses. 1832-1833, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.

George Catlin, Buffalo Chase, Bulls Making Battle with Men and Horses. 1832-1833, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.

Mennello Museum of Art (Orlando, Florida)
Mennello Museum opens final exhibits in 15th-anniversary season
The Mennello Museum of American Art is wrapping up its 15th-anniversary year with two exhibitions that opened Oct. 3…The two new exhibitions are “George Catlin’s American Buffalo,” on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and “The Taos Society of Artists,” an original exhibition curated by museum executive director Frank Holt. The exhibitions run through Jan. 4, 2015.

The Majesty of the Buffalo, Captured on Canvas [16 Images]
In Great Falls, the exhibit was received enthusiastically, and the museum saw an uptick in attendance. “We’re delighted to have this quality of an exhibition from the Smithsonian,” Burt said, adding that the scenes provided Native Americans with “a great opportunity” for insight into their ancestors’ lifeways and the scenery of the plains.

space-center-houston-smithsonianSpace Center Houston (Houston, Texas)
Space Center Houston is 1st Smithsonian Affiliate in Houston
Space Center Houston is now a member of the Smithsonian’s crew. Space Center Houston, which serves as the official visitor center for NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas, is officially the first museum in Houston to be named a Smithsonian Affiliate.

Another giant leap for Space Center Houston
In a giant leap toward preserving the history of space exploration, Space Center Houston became the city’s first Smithsonian Affiliate on Oct. 8

Witte Museum (San Antonio, Texas)
Witte Museum announces Smithsonian partnership
We purposely waited to become a Smithsonian Affiliate because we’re in a great transformation right now at the museum and we thought it would be the perfect way to say we’re a top-tier museum,” said Marise McDermott, Witte Museum president and CEO.

Witte now a Smithsonian affiliate
The Witte Museum is now a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate. As a member of the program, the Witte will be able to borrow objects from the Smithsonian’s permanent collection and tap into its resources. “It’s such a great time for the Witte to have an affiliation,” said Marise McDermott, president and CEO of the Witte, who will announce the affiliation at a news conference this morning. “Before we were so focused on growing our campus, and now we’re ready to integrate with a national museum.”

wittetv

Berkshire Museum (Pittsfield, Massachusetts)
Smithsonian Leaders Hail Berkshire Museum SparkLab Partnership
“We think that real innovation will happen in this space,” according to Claudine Brown, Assistant Secretary of Education & Access at the Smithsonian. “Every SparkLab is different, and this one is architecturally beautiful.”

Spark!Lab is hands-on science at Berkshire Museum
Berkshire Museum Executive Director Van Shields said, while tinkering on his own Snap Circuits project, that Spark!Lab will “stimulate the kind of creativity and innovative thinking that was the beginning of the journey” of bringing the museum into the 21st century.

biomuseoThe Biomuseo (Panama)
Biomuseo Showcases Panama’s Ecological Diversity
Panama, the Biomuseo proclaims, became a “bridge of life” (the title of its permanent exhibition) and a fountain of biodiversity. Just a bit bigger than Ireland, it has more species of birds, amphibians and animals (if insects are included) than the United States and Canada combined, according to George R. Angehr, a research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. (The Biomuseo is an affiliate of the Smithsonian, which along with the University of Panama helped develop its scientific content.)

Wondrous or hideous? Frank Gehry-designed natural history museum opens to fanfare in Panama
A natural history museum designed by famed architect Frank Gehry opened in Panama City this week. The Biomuseo — a project first conceived nearly 15 years ago and hampered by all kinds of issues — welcomed in the public for the first time Thursday.

Idaho Museum of Natural History (Pocatello, Idaho)
Asian Pacific American History exhibit on display at IMNH
Asian and Pacific Americans make up more than five percent of the U.S. population—more than 17 million people—and those numbers are growing. Their ancestral roots represent more than 50 percent of the world, extending from East Asia to Southeast Asia, and from South Asia to the Pacific Islands and Polynesia. In commemoration of this important history, “I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story” opened at the Idaho Museum of Natural History (IMNH), on September 20 and will run through November 30. “I Want the Wide American Earth” was created by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). The exhibition is supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Smithsonian exhibit heads to local museum
“It’s pretty exciting because we are a Smithsonian-affiliated museum…and we only get it for ten weeks so it’s here before it heads-off to California, so unless you are planning on traveling to California, you won’t get to see it,” Tews said.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

let’s think like inventors

Smithsonian Affiliations would like to thank Kate Preissler, Digital Media Marketing Manager at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, for this guest post.

On October 11, the Berkshire Museum will become the fourth museum in the nation to host Spark!Lab, an exhibition developed at the Smithsonian Institution by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History (NMAH). By opening Spark!Lab we are joining with the Smithsonian in a nation-wide initiative to engage young people in acts of invention.

Staff at the Berkshire Museum get a chance to test out the Spark!Lab activities during a special training with Lemelson Center colleagues.

Staff at the Berkshire Museum get a chance to test out the Spark!Lab activities during a special training with Lemelson Center colleagues.

To prepare, colleagues from the Lemelson Center in Washington D.C. joined the Berkshire Museum staff for several days of training. A significant portion of the training had our staff trying out the activities that will be available in Spark!Lab. These activities, primarily engineering and design challenges, pose problems from the real world for visitors to solve. There are no right or wrong answers to Spark!Lab’s challenges; you may invent a solution that is completely different from my solution, yet we have both succeeded by solving the problem. These activities show young people that every brain is capable of creating something totally new and that by coming up with new ideas, we can make the world a better place for ourselves and each other.

As we tried out wind tunnels and tipping tables, it occurred to me that everyone, not just young people, probably craves opportunities to be inventive all the time. Individuals from all departments– marketing, security, visitor’s services, education – became deeply absorbed in the challenges presented. The mood in the room ran the gamut from laughter during experimentation to intense concentration on final designs, and many people had to be torn from the stations when it was time to move on. When we tested the activities with kids, the results were the same – no one wanted to leave!

The author can't look at her desk anymore without seeing all of the inventions that people devised to make life easier.

The author can’t look at her desk anymore without seeing all of the inventions that people devised to make life easier.

Until I encountered Spark!Lab and the Lemelson Center, ‘inventive creativity,’ especially as a skill set that could be learned, practiced, and honed, was not an idea to which I had given a lot of thought. So although learning about the activities and understanding what will be physically happening in our new space was valuable, it was the other aspects of our training that helped me to really understand the potential that Spark!Lab holds for altering perceptions and empowering the young people who visit the Museum.

During training we learned about many different inventors; inventions which have changed the course of history; and inventions which have made our lives a little easier in subtle ways. I spent the next few weeks seeing inventions everywhere. For instance, I sat at my desk and couldn’t help but notice that each of the items in front of me represented an idea from an actual person who saw a problem in need of a solution. And I don’t think I was the only one. My colleague Lesley Ann Beck came back to the second half of the training with a story about opening a pizza box and realizing that someone, somewhere, had gotten so frustrated with squished pizza and cheese stuck to lids, that they invented a small, round piece of plastic to keep the box lid from denting in, saving the pizza from damage. Once we started thinking about inventions, we couldn’t stop.

Spark!Lab under construction at the Berkshire Museum - a space which took inventive thinking to develop.

Spark!Lab under construction at the Berkshire Museum – a space which took inventive thinking to develop.

As construction of our Spark!Lab space in the Museum takes shape, this new lens has allowed me to see how our architects and staff have used inventive thinking to create a space that has to adapt to different needs, different audiences, and changing activities. It’s exciting to have a space for Spark!Lab that is the result of the creative inventiveness we’re trying to instill there.

We also had a discussion about ways to reinforce inventive thinking in kids, which gave me the chance to think back to my childhood and especially to my father, who built my sisters and me a workbench and encouraged us to create using wood scraps from his own projects. For years I used a Walkman held together by a wood nail because he loved to fix things instead of throwing them out. I thought about the pulley system he had rigged for our birdfeeder, which made it easy to fill but hard for squirrels to get to. I realized that my dad is one of those people who travels through the world with the eyes of an inventor. I also realized that not everyone has a person in his or her life to model and encourage these traits – but that by opening this space and staffing it with trained facilitators, our Museum could play that role for many.

You might now be asking, what do you mean when you say “the eyes of an inventor”? In the training, I wondered that too, and for me the best answer came from one of our facilitators, Michelle DelCarlo, Spark!Lab National Network Manager. She described inventors as people who encounter a problem and react by thinking “I can make this better.” With the mindset of an empowered inventor, problems become sources of motivation, not roadblocks or excuses to give up. So with that thought, I can’t wait to be a part of Spark!Lab because, really, what a wonderful world we could live in if each of us approached our days with inventors’ brains – not just seeing the problems, but feeling confident in our ability to solve them.

Spark!Lab will provide a space for young people in the Museum's community to think like inventors.

Spark!Lab will provide a space for young people in the Museum’s community to think like inventors.

 

 

coming up in affiliateland in october 2014

The air is turning crisp and Affiliates continue to host top-rated programs all over the country.

PANAMA

The BioMuseo, designed by Frank Gehry, is ready to open in Panama.

The BioMuseo, designed by Frank Gehry, is ready to open in Panama.

National Outreach Manager Alma Douglas takes part in the celebration of the BioMuseo, which officially opens to the public in Panama City, 10.2.

TENNESSEE

Smithsonian Associates lead an exclusive tour Inside Oak Ridge National Laboratory featuring two Affiliates, the Museum of Appalachia and American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, 10.4-7.

FLORIDA

The Menello Museum of Art opens George Catlin’s American Buffalo exhibition from the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Orlando, 10.4.

The South Florida Museum opens SITES The Evolving Universe exhibition in Bradenton, 10.25.

TEXAS

Affiliations director Harold Closter will announce the new affiliation with the Witte Museum in San Antonio, 10.7.

Affiliations director Harold Closter will announce the new affiliation with the Space Center Houston, 10/8.

MASSACHUSETTS

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Several Smithsonian staff members will attend the celebration to open Spark!Lab, an interactive exhibit and activity space resulting from a collaboration between the Berkshire Museum and the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, in Pittsfield, 10.10.

The Lowell National Historical Park will host an Innovators in Community Engagement Forum, including Sharon Reinckens from the Anacostia Community Museum, and fellow Affiliate, Cassie Chinn, from the Wing Luke Museum, in Lowell, 10.21-22.

SOUTH CAROLINA

The Children’s Museum of the Upstate hosts their first “Smithsonian Speaker Series” with a talk by fellow Affiliate Dr. Deborah Barnhart, CEO of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The Museum will also present public exhibition of student creations as part of the Smithsonian’s Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos astrophotography project, in Greenville, 10.28.