Is the Smithsonian in your neighborhood? As of this week, the answer to that question for the community in Newport, RI and for supporters of the International Tennis Hall of Fame around the globe, can be a resounding, "yes it is!"
The Smithsonian may be synonymous with Washington, D.C., but the institution's reach expands well beyond the capitol through Smithsonian Affiliations, a national outreach program that develops long-term partnerships with museums and educational organizations in order to share collections, exhibitions, learning opportunities, and research expertise. In 46 states, Puerto Rico, and Panama, more than 200 Smithsonian Affiliate organizations are connecting the Smithsonian with local communities, and on May 17, 2017 the International Tennis Hall of Fame became the newest museum to hold this prestigious designation.
That sounds nice on paper, but what does that mean in the real world? It means plenty! At the Hall of Fame, we are elated about the our new Smithsonian Affiliation, because it will better position us to create a more enriching experience for fans like you - our local community, tennis fans around the globe, students, educators, and ITHF Advantage Program participants, just to name a few!
How will this affiliation benefit you and the ITHF? Let us count the ways:
1. New artifacts to explore! The Smithsonian collections include more than 130 million pieces over 19 Smithsonian Museums. A quick search of the archives reveals more than 900 objects that are related to the sport of tennis, including racquets used by Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson, the dress worn by Billie Jean King at the Battle of the Sexes, and rare paintings of the historic courts at Newport, just to name a few. As a Smithsonian Affiliate, the Hall of Fame now has the opportunity to work with the Smithsonian on object loans to bring a piece of the Smithsonian to our community.
2. Collaborative Exhibits and Programs Discussions about future collaborations have already begun! Potential opportunities that have been identified through the program may include a retrospective on the life and career of Hall of Famer Althea Gibson, utilizing Smithsonian loaned artifacts; an expanded tennis and art exhibition at the Hall of Fame; and development of a national traveling exhibit.
3. Advantage, You. Participants in the ITHF Advantage Program are now eligible to recieve a complimentary Smithsonian Membership. Consider it, two memberships in one! As part of this new partnership, ITHF Advantage Program participants can now opt in for a complimentary Smithsonian Membership, which includes a subscription to Smithsonian Magazine or Air & Space Magazine as well as other great discounts, offers, and benefits! Learn more.
4. Look who's coming to town! As a Smithsonian Affiliate, the Hall of Fame will receive first notice of Smithsonian speakers, authors, workshops, distance learning programs, webinars, and special exhibits in our area - and we'll be sure to spread the word!
5. Partnerships The Smithsonian Affiliate network includes 216 museums, libraries, and science centers in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Panama! From art to aviation to history, our relationships with these institutions will offer the Hall of Fame unique professional development opporutnities, as well as access to a network of supportive organizations and shared expertise, all of which help us develop enriching and improved eperiences for our visitors and fans, as we work to preserve and promote the history of tennis and its champions.
6. Education The ITHF already offers a variety of curriculum-based lesson plans for area schools focused on subjects including science, math, geography, and social studies. We look forward to expanding and supplmenting these programs through object loans, online educational programs, and other creative ways through this new parternshp.
The dream of Smithsonian Affiliations is a big one — to enrich lives by expanding the boundaries of the Smithsonian outside Washington, D.C.– and to make their work, their collections, and their research more widely accessible to communities throughout America. At the International Tennis Hall of Fame, we're thrilled to welcome them to the neighborhood.