German Village Gazette

Historical Society now an official affiliate of Smithsonian

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The Ohio Historical Society is now an official affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The new relationship allows the two groups to exchange artifacts for exhibitions, educational initiatives and research programs.

Jane Mason, spokeswoman with the Ohio Historical Society, said the society has more than 1.6 million artifacts -- from 10,000-year-old mastodon skeleton to toys from the 1950s -- it would be proud to share on a national level.

Meanwhile, the arrangement with the Smithsonian also allows reciprocal agreements with the historical society's network of 58 historic sites, which includes more than a dozen museums.

That will help get the word out about other important historical sites in the Buckeye State, Mason said.

"This is a challenge for us," she said.

"People do not realize the richness of Ohio's history and the artifacts in the collection of the Ohio's historical society and museums across Ohio. We have so much diversity."

Yet, it could be years before either of the groups strike a reciprocal agreement, as many exhibits are planned years in advance and some of the exchanges call for "conservation," or physical stabilization efforts, for objects that travel for display, Mason said.

"These are just long-term negotiations, so it just takes a while," she said.

Harold Closter, director of Smithsonian Affiliations, also lauded the effort.

The Smithsonian has 137 million artifacts, works of art and scientific specimens that stretch out across 19 museums and the National Zoo.

"The whole purpose of the Smithsonian Affiliations program is to find more ways of bringing the Smithsonian out to people in their own communities," Closter said.

"What it does for us is it helps make us more local," he said. "What it does for the affiliates is make them more national."

Closter said the Smithsonian's connection to Ohio dates back to 1846, when the organization conducted a study of the Serpent Mound in Southwest Ohio.

"Ohio is such a big state with such an interesting and diverse history, our own interests have intersected with Ohio since the very beginning," he said.

"And that's what makes this new association with the Ohio Historical Society so worthwhile."

 

 

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