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Springfield Museums Named Smithsonian Affiliate

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 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.

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 Thursday, Sept. 22 and offer a workshop the following day to students from Springfield’s Conservatory of the Arts. Saturday, Sept. 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 of 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 an announcement ceremony hosted by the museums was Harold Closter, director of Smithsonian Affiliations; Springfield Museums President Kay Simpson; Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno; U.S. Rep. Richard Neal; and state Sen. 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 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 Springfield 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,” Closter said. “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.”

Added Simpson, “we are truly honored and excited to have been selected to become a Smithsonian affiliate. 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.”

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