Think Globally

Smithsonian Affiliations staff recently met with Heather Berry, manager of International Programs at the American Association of Museums to learn more about their Museums and Community Collaborations Abroad (MCCA.) MCCA is a program that connects US communities with people abroad using museums as the catalysts and facilitators for connections and collaborations.

The projects are proposed by participating institutions with their international partners and matching funding is available. Heather agreed that working with Smithsonian Affiliates is a wonderful opportunity. “We think Affiliates, which are found all over the country, would make great partners. The diversity of the Affiliates’ missions and collections would be a great fit for international collaboration.”

While visiting the Toh-Atin art gallery in Navajo Nation. US and Taiwan team members talk about weaving techniques

Previous partners  include the World Awareness Children’s Museum in Glens Falls, New York who worked with counterparts at the Museo de la Ciudad in Ecuador. The middle schoolers involved used art and video conferencing to explore challenges faced by their own communities. They produced “traveling culture kits” which can be shared with other middle schools.

The National Taiwan Museum in Taipei City worked with the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History in Boulder to develop an online application that will provide improved access to collections of tribal objects. The application, iShare, enabled both groups to provide additional information about the objects, information not traditionally captured.

To her colleagues from the National Taiwan Museum and the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, Navajo Nation Museum Curator Clarenda Begay explains the use, meaning, and reasons she selected certain items to be included on iShare

“Forging cross-cultural ties is critical to creating a sustainable, prosperous world,” said AAM president Ford W. Bell. “Museums, in partnership with their local communities, are taking a leading role towards that end thanks to the MCCA program and our partners in the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.”

To learn more about how Affiliates can take part in this program, AAM staff will be available at this year’s Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference. Or you may contact MCCA staff at to be added to the emailing list for the next cycle. For more information, visit or follow MCCA on Facebook at