SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Museums have been formally accepted as an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. Smithsonian Affiliations is a national outreach program that develops long-term, high-quality partnerships with museums and educational organizations in order to share collections, exhibitions, learning opportunities and research expertise.
The partnership has been made possible through the generous support of the MassMutual Foundation, which is providing a three-year, $145,000-plus grant to bring a wealth of resources and programming to Springfield, starting with the first-ever “Smithsonian Week in Springfield” (September 17 – 24).
The week will feature presentations by Smithsonian experts such as Mary Savig, Curator of Manuscripts at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, who will speak at the Museums à la Carte lecture on September 22 and offer a workshop the following day to students from Springfield’s Conservatory of the Arts. Saturday, September 24 is Smithsonian Magazine’s “Museum Day Live!” which will include a visit to the Museums by Carrie Heflin of the National Museum of American History and free general admission tickets available for download at SmithsonianMag.com/museumday.
“For us to continue to develop a culturally rich community, it is important that all of us – especially our children – have access to some of the world’s most treasured art collections, artifacts, and perspectives of the most renowned experts in the country,” said Roger Crandall, Chairman, President and CEO, MassMutual. “The MassMutual Foundation’s support of the partnership between the Springfield Museums and the Smithsonian helps strengthen the cultural fabric of our community, and we are proud to do our share to provide opportunities that inspire people to never stop learning and growing.”
Joining Crandall at a special announcement ceremony hosted by the Museums was Harold Closter, Director of Smithsonian Affiliations, Springfield Museums President Kay Simpson, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, U.S. Representative Richard Neal, and State Senator Eric Lesser. The day also included a presentation titled “Driving Around Mars” by planetary scientist John Grant from the National Air and Space Museum.
There are currently more than 200 institutions nationwide that have been selected to be Smithsonian Affiliates. In identifying possible candidates for affiliation, the Smithsonian seeks out organizations that share a common mission, a commitment to education and public service, and have the capability of bringing Smithsonian artifacts, exhibits, and programs to their venues. Candidates are subject to a rigorous application process involving all aspects of their organization, from their leadership and financial structure to a review of their collections management and programming protocols.
Those selected to be Affiliates enjoy a range of benefits, from facilitated object and exhibit loans and discounted Smithsonian memberships for their patrons to custom-developed education, performing arts, and public programs. Staff at the Smithsonian and the Museums have already commenced discussions of potential collaborative projects for the first three years of the affiliation, including object loans and additional visits from Smithsonian experts.
“We are very honored to begin this new partnership between Springfield Museums and the Smithsonian Institution,” stated Director Closter. “This affiliation builds on a long history of common interests in art, history, and science and prior collaborations, the Places of Invention exhibition and research project at the National Museum of American History being the latest. We look forward to all the ways we will be working together to bring the Smithsonian to Springfield, beginning this weekend, and to tell Springfield’s incredible story to our national and international audiences.”
Given the diverse multi-disciplinary nature of their art, history, and science collections, the Springfield Museums are natural choice to become a Smithsonian Affiliate. The nationally-accredited consortium is the largest cultural organization in western Massachusetts, with four museums situated “Smithsonian style” around a 5.4 acre Quadrangle in downtown Springfield. The consortium features the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, the Springfield Science Museum, the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts and the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, as well as the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden. A fifth museum, The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss, celebrating the life and career of Springfield resident Theodor Seuss Geisel, will open in 2017.
“We are truly honored and excited to have been selected to become a Smithsonian Affiliate,” said Museums President Simpson. “We see this as an incredible opportunity to offer expanded exhibition, education and membership opportunities to our patrons, and to further enhance our standing as one of the region’s foremost cultural institutions. We deeply appreciate the support provided by the MassMutual Foundation in facilitating this new and exciting partnership.”