News and Notes

A Newsletter for Faculty and Staff of Idaho State University

July 16, 2012 — Vol. 28 No. 25

Museum Announces Partnership

Herbert Maschner

The Idaho Museum of Natural History at Idaho State University has announced a new affiliation and new cooperative research ventures with the Smithsonian Institution.

"This is a great opportunity for Idaho," said Herbert Maschner, director of the Idaho Museum of Natural History. "We're the only museum in the state with a Smithsonian Affiliation, and one of the few in the Intermountain West."

Smithsonian Affiliations offers museums, educational and cultural organizations across the country the opportunity to have greater access to Smithsonian collections and resources. Through the Smithsonian Affiliations program, the Smithsonian shares its artifacts, programs, and expertise across America. The Idaho Museum of Natural History will now be able to host Smithsonian Institution exhibits.

In addition to borrowing objects from the Smithsonian's collections, many Affiliates are incorporating the outreach services the Institution offers-for curriculum development in local schools, lectures, traveling exhibitions, workshops, study tours and other programs. The Smithsonian also shares its staff expertise in areas of conservation, collections care and exhibition development with Affiliate partners.

"Today, Smithsonian Affiliations is doing more than sharing its treasures with the museums of America," said Harold A. Closter, director of the program. "We are building relationships with people in local communities from coast to coast, ensuring that all Americans can enjoy a quality Smithsonian experience, regardless of their proximity to Washington, D.C."

The goal of Smithsonian Affiliations is to establish long-term relationships with Affiliate partners to maximize the cultural and educational benefits that both the Smithsonian and the Affiliate can bring to a community.

With this new Smithsonian Affiliation, those who join as Friends of the Idaho Museum of Natural History will also become members of the Smithsonian and receive the Smithsonian Magazine and other benefits, such as discounts at Smithsonian Museum stores, the Smithsonian Catalogue, SmithsonianStore.com and to some Smithsonian exhibits. Maschner also expressed his excitement about the new research Memorandum of Understanding between the IMNH and Smithsonian Institution.

The Smithsonian has entered into a two-year collaboration with IMNH's Virtualization Laboratory to digitally scan bone artifacts and other items from the Smithsonian collections. Robert Schlader and Nicholas Clement from the IMNH Virtualization Laboratory will travel to Washington, D.C., to take images of Smithsonian collections, and then produce 3-D digital records that will then be transferred back to the Smithsonian.

"The fact that the Smithsonian Institution recognizes the unique services of our 3-D Virtualization Laboratory, and saw the opportunity for us to work together, is a credit to the work we do," Maschner said. "It is an honor to be working with one of the finest museums in the world."

As part of these agreements, the Smithsonian Institution will also send a conservator specializing in methods of preserving and displaying natural history collections, including everything from feathers to fossils.

"These new agreements with the Smithsonian are so wonderful and exciting that I don't even know how to process it," Maschner said. "And they will bring great recognition to Idaho State University."

Maschner expressed his appreciation to all who helped with creating these agreements. Through Idaho U.S. Representative Mike Simpson, Maschner and ISU President Arthur C. Vailas were able to meet with G. Wayne Clough, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to discuss possible alliances between the IMNH and the Smithsonian. Those initial discussions resulted in the new agreements reported here.