Springfield Museum of Art partners with Smithsonian on speaker series

The Springfield Museum of Art will present the new Smithsonian Speaker Series on Wednesday focusing on "African American Women's Activism in Historical Perspective" as the first topic. Crystal Moten, Curator, National Museum of American History, will be one of the presenters. Courtesy photo
The Springfield Museum of Art will present the new Smithsonian Speaker Series on Wednesday focusing on "African American Women's Activism in Historical Perspective" as the first topic. Crystal Moten, Curator, National Museum of American History, will be one of the presenters. Courtesy photo

The Springfield Museum of Art (SMOA) is working with the most celebrated museum in America for a new series debuting this week.

As the only Ohio art museum that is a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate, the SMOA offers access to the Smithsonian Speaker Series, a virtual exploration of various historical and art topics led by prominent speakers using the Smithsonian’s vast collection to tell stories.

The first program, “African American Women’s Activism in Historical Perspective” will be presented at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 3. The program is free and accessible on Zoom through SMOA’s website or social media. Early registration is suggested as slots are limited.

SMOA Executive Director Jessimi Jones and staff previously met to discuss the best ways to use the Smithsonian Affiliation, a unique way to access the organization’s vast resources and keep the public aware of the distinction.

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An opportunity came when the SMOA won an award early last year to have a live Smithsonian speakers series event here, creating several events surrounding it, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented it. The Smithsonian instead opted to go virtual, allowing more access.

Having the SMOA as a touchpoint and conduit for the Smithsonian is a point of pride for the staff.

“This is just another illustration of how this small museum in Springfield is doing big things in the community. I hope everyone knows about it,” said SMOA museum educator Amy Korpieski, who has worked with Smithsonian programmers.

Wednesday’s program will feature various speakers highlighting objects related to African American women’s history from the Smithsonian’s collection.

Originally designed to tie into the 100th anniversary of American women earning the right to vote, Korpieski likes that the initial program is still relevant to that, while also tying into both Women’s History Month in March and Black History Month in February, straddling the two.

The second speaker program, “Women Artists Respond to Place,” will be 5 p.m. March 31, and focus on the significance of landscapes, places and narratives of contemporary women artists in the Smithsonian collections, which will also feature African American and Native American speakers.

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This also relates to one of the SMOA’s current exhibitions, “Celebrating Women” Female Artists from the Permanent Collection” in the Quinlan and Bosca Galleries. The SMOA will also do a series of social media posts on some of the artists to be profiled in the March 31 presentation.

“These topics are so relevant and thrilling,” said Korpieski.

There will be future virtual Smithsonian speaker programs, although nothing is currently scheduled. Korpieski looks forward to continuing the association and for what it can bring to the community.

“It shows the Smithsonian values Springfield,” she said.

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