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Smithsonian Traveling Exhibits
Washington, DC
We're the largest traveling exhibition service in the world!
Interests: Everything! Art, history, science, natural history, cultural studies, American history and world history.
Recent Activity
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Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History opened the SITES exhibition Farmers, Builders, Warriors: The Hidden Life of Ants with gusto and creativity this fall. A family festival featured scavenger hunts, puppet shows, hat-making, ant-featured games, and snacks of ants and crickets, both raw and chocolate-coated. Visitors also played with a robotic ant that Yale engineering undergraduates created to help children learn how ants use chemical communication — and not eyesight — to navigate their environments. The museum has developed an hour-long program for local students to teach basic topics in evolutionary biology, such as adaptations and social behavior of... Continue reading
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We all know the classic rhyme "In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." But for many of us, our knowledge of Columbus falters after that. Here are a few facts to build your Columbus acumen. 1. Columbus made four trips to the Americas. 2. Money was tight. Columbus had to "shop around" for someone to finance his grand expedition to find the "Orient." Before landing a backer in Queen Isabella of Castile, he made requests to King John II of Portugal and Henry II of England. 3. It's likely that Columbus first landed on Watling Island in the... Continue reading
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SITES’ Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program is turning 20! It’s hard to believe that it’s been two decades since the Smithsonian and state humanities councils joined forces to create exhibitions specifically designed to serve the needs of small and rural museums and cultural organizations. After 20 years of grand openings, incredible local exhibitions, challenging discussions on timely topics, tens of thousands of student visits, and more volunteer hours that we can count, MoMS remains committed to its core purpose—helping museums in small communities focus attention on their local history and culture. MoMS does this by combining Smithsonian exhibitions with... Continue reading
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Learn from the masters. That's what artists do. Young or old, seasoned creators or complete beginners, people look to past masterpieces to understand and often replicate the style of great works of art. That's the scenario that played out at the Georgia Museum of Art as they wrapped up their showing of Women, Art, and Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise. More than 180 works--ranging from pottery to jewelry to textiles and made by a new class of emerging female artisans in the post-Civil War South--are included in the Smithsonian's traveling exhibition. One of those works became the inspiration for... Continue reading
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Recently, we received a question on Twitter about our processes for insuring the safety of objects as they prepare for shipment. The answer to that is multifacted, but one thing we do is to have expert registrars travel with some of our exhibitions, helping to install or pack up each artifact, panel, and label. Here's a sort of "day in the life" of our registrars Josie and Cheryl as they arrive to crate up Smithsonian traveling exhibitions. Day 1: Deinstalltion of Women, Art, and Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise. Packed the large framed works; put text panels in trays... Continue reading
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Every year, when the majority of our summer interns go back to the classroom or jump head first into the real-world, we repeat the same mantra. "Interns rock." They just do. How else could museums accomplish mind-blowing cultural feats? Answer: Not without them. The work of dedicated volunteers and interns--who invest months of their lives into singular, "accomplishable" tasks--is critical. Whether it's clearing image rights, collaborating with partner museums, or developing thoughtful research, the work that comes from our interns is top notch. Here's a shout out to our summer class of 2014, cast as the superheroes they are! Gwen... Continue reading
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In celebration of our upcoming traveling exhibition What's Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones, we're exploring what makes Jones' cartoons so engaging and so darn funny. Aside from the amazing animation, precision timing, and incredible musical scores, the unresolved conflicts between eternally dueling antagonists are at the core of the comic experience, right? In other words, Bugs Bunny is always outwitting his opponents, which include Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, and Yosemite Sam. And the hungry cat Sylvester is never able to catch the elusive Tweety Bird. Then, there's Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote (poor fellow). In 1949,... Continue reading
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He looks spry enough, but your old friend Bugs Bunny is over the hill. The beloved cartoon rabbit, made famous by artist and animator Chuck Jones, is in his seventies! We set out to discover what this iconic character's "bunnyhood" was like: 1938: Warner Bros. director Ben “Bugs” Hardaway created a rabbit character for the film Porky’s Hare Hunt. 1939: For Bugs’s next appearance, in Hare-um Scare-um, character designer Charles Thorson made a model sheet and referred to the rabbit as “Bug’s Bunny.” This bunny was screwball, antic, and cute. Two of Chuck Jones’s early cartoons, Prest-O Change-O and Elmer’s... Continue reading
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From current political leaders and entertainers to the popularity of hot yoga and curry food trucks, the Indian American influence on our country can be seen everywhere. Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation, developed in created in collaboration with the Smithsonian's Asian Pacific American Center, explores the surprisingly long history of Indian immigration to the U.S. and the community's political, professional, and cultural contributions to our society. From struggles for civil rights to today's leaders in medicine, science and technology, Beyond Bollywood documents the heritage, diverse contributions and daily experiences of Indian immigrants and their descendants. Featuring a traveling... Continue reading
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In the first exhibition of its kind, the Smithsonian celebrates Asian Pacific American history across a multitude of incredibly diverse cultures, and explores how Asian Pacific Americans (APAs) have shaped and been shaped by the course of our nation’s history. I Want the Wide American Earth, created by SITES and the Smithsonian's Asian Pacific Amerian Center, is as much a chronicle of the struggles of APAs as it is a story of their resilience and achievement. The exhibition carries the narrative to the present day and celebrates APA individuals and communities that continue to flourish and contribute to every arena... Continue reading
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Each year the Institute for Museum and Library Service bestows the National Medal, the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries, to a select group of organizations for outstanding service to their communities. You can see the full list of finalists here, but we especially wanted to commend the past and current SITES exhibitors listed below. Collectively, they have hosted a dozen SITES exhibits since 2001. (The Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, Conn. hosts its first exhibit from SITES’ Museum on Main Street program this summer, June 21 – August 3, 2014.) Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, Connecticut Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago... Continue reading
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Since Titanoboa: Monster Snake slithered into the Elephant Hall at the University of Nebraska State Museum-Lincoln in February, the stunning 48-foot long scale replica of the prehistoric predator has fascinated visitors and delighted the museum staff with monster loads of media coverage and record-breaking attendance numbers. Over 1,200 people viewed the exhibit on opening day alone. The next day brought a line out the door and around the building for those attending the “Sunday with a Scientist-Titanoboa” program led by Dr. Jason Head, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology and part of the team that made the once-in-a-lifetime discovery of Titanoboa cerrejonesis.... Continue reading
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One of the most common questions we’re asked by a new host venue is “How do I get started?” Whether you are a first-time SITES exhibitor, or it’s been a while since you’ve hosted one of our shows, here are a few tips to make the process a lot easier: Book early. Most exhibitors book at least 1-2 years in advance; for art exhibits, at least 2- 3 years in advance. Stay ahead of the game and secure the show you want (for the time period you want it) by visiting our website often, signing up for our monthly E-newsletter... Continue reading
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Just in time: Patios, Pools & the Invention of the American Backyard takes on summer. Remember when the Cold War was hot, hula hoops were all the rage, and household products were made with the newly-developed materials of plastic and aluminum? Revisit mid-century America with Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Backyard, a new exhibit from SITES and the Archives of American Gardens, available beginning in March 2015. Featuring retro advertisements, photographs, garden designs and groovy text that explores the post-World War II shift from the front porch to the suburban backyard, Patios, Pools, & the Invention of... Continue reading
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Dear Colleagues and Friends, I am writing to let you know that Anna Cohn has stepped down from her position as Director of SITES for health reasons to become a Senior Project Advisor in my office. During Anna's 25 years as director, SITES organized and circulated some 300 traveling exhibitions including In the Spirit of Martin: The Living Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Jim Henson's Fantastic World; Earth 2U, Exploring Geography; The Precious Legacy: Judaic Treasures from the Czechoslovak State Collections; Latin Jazz: La combinación perfecta; Sports: Breaking Records, Breaking Barriers; Native Words, Native Warriors; Star Wars: The... Continue reading
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The star who never toured overseas in his lifetime is doing well in his first non-North American venue. Elvis at 21, the Smithsonian touring exhibition featuring fifty-six images of a very young, very handsome, and very dynamic Elvis Presley, has been well received, and the show is impeccably staged at the National Portrait Gallery of Australia. After touring over a dozen American museums, Elvis at 21 hopped a plane to Canberra, Australia, where the exhibition has made itself at home since December 6, 2013, and where it will remain until March 10, 2014. “The King has settled in nicely at... Continue reading
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The star who never toured overseas in his lifetime is doing well in his first non-North American venue. Elvis at 21, the Smithsonian touring exhibition featuring fifty-six images of a very young, very handsome, and very dynamic Elvis Presley, has been well received, and the show is impeccably staged at the National Portrait Gallery of Australia. After touring over a dozen American museums, Elvis at 21 hopped a plane to Canberra, Australia, where the exhibition has made itself at home since December 6, 2013, and where it will remain until March 10, 2014. “The King has settled in nicely at... Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2014 at Elvis
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When you come back from a conference, you're absolutely bloated with information--like a meniscus pour for your brain. Without a doubt, you're excited about all the brilliant ideas you heard. The problem is, once you're back in your office, the phone starts ringing; you've got to extinguish three fires, and you're required to attend meetings a, b, and c. Dissecting your conference meeting notes keeps getting pushed down . . . down . . . down until it's right up there with cleaning out your file cabinets. This time, I'm actually revisiting my chicken scratch one day after edUi 2013--a... Continue reading
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Museum people tend to be skeptical about the occult. Maybe, it's because of our methodical approach to processing information or our insistence on bullet-proof documentation? Whatever the reasons, when I posed the question, "Have you ever experienced ghostly happenings at a museum where you worked?", there were crickets from my professional colleagues--a group that usually has something to say about everything. Perhaps they were too embarrassed to admit to an unearthly encounter, or just as likely, these 21st-century souls had never been in the presence of an apparition. Regardless of their inexperience with ghouls, hauntings and unexplained happenings at museums... Continue reading
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Last week, we bid farewell to SITES project director Jennifer Bine who has accepted a position at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, New York. We’ll surely miss her dedication, good humor, and super-easy- going management style, but once we heard the news, we all realized that the new job appears to be tailor-made for our outdoorsy colleague (whose Facebook posts regularly include images of enviable ski trips and kayaking adventures). Jennifer has been a part of the SITES family for 20 years, working on popular natural history and science shows such as In Search of Giant Squid, Titanoboa:... Continue reading
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Border Station with agents and braceros. Photo by Leonard Nadel/Smithsonian National Museum of American History A student from Georgetown University recently contacted Christin Chism, one of our PR mavens, to glean more information about the Smithsonian traveling exhibition Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Project. Jose Madrid had seen a film about the Bracero program (1942-1964) at the National Museum of American History and decided to write a paper about the topic. Continue reading
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As one of the most celebrated and prolific musical icons of the 20th century, it’s hard to believe that Elvis Presley, the King of Rock 'n' Roll, rarely traveled outside of the United States. Celebrities are known to jet set, greeting their adoring fans as they bounce from country to country, but Presley curiously remained stateside for much of his career. International fans were undeniably disappointed, but their devotion to the King never faltered, and now the wait is over. Elvis at 21: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer will visit Australia in December 2013, offering an intimate glimpse into the life... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2013 at Elvis
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I haven't heard the 1972 Grateful Dead song "Truckin'" in a couple of years, but suddenly, I'm compelled to listen to Jerry Garcia and the gang harmonize: "Truckin, got my chips cashed in. Keep truckin, like the do-dah man. Together, more or less in line, just keep truckin on." We've had trucks on our minds a lot lately. To that end, we're more than happy to officially announce Animal Connections: Our Journey Together, an 18-wheeler mobile truck exhibit that explores veterinarary medicine and the complex bonds between humans and animals, is officially on the road! Presented by the Smithsonian Institution... Continue reading
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These days the term "social change" seems to refer not to civil rights movements or changes in the political landscape but to the way that our favorite social media platforms are continuously reinventing themselves. This is especially true as the "older," more established channels spot new competitors emerging in the market and begin reskinning themselves to appear fresh, more in touch with the next generation of social users. To this end, I was thrilled when I checked into SITES Flickr presence a few weeks ago! The platform looks incredibly different both behind the scenes and to the end user, and... Continue reading
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What do you get when put a banjo player, a bagpiper, a cook, and a collector all in the same room? You get the class of 2013--SITES newest staffers! Registrar Emily Robinson comes most recently from The Textile Museum in Washington, DC. She has also held exhibitions and registrar positions at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the U.S. Department of the Interior Museum. She holds a master's degree in cultural studies from the University of Edinburgh and a certificate in museum studies from George Washington University. A Washington, DC, resident for eight years, Emily is currently learning to play the... Continue reading