Friday, November 10, 2017

Smithsonian | Leibniz Association Meetings, October 2017

Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton (r) and 
Leibniz Association President Matthias Kleiner (l)
Nancy E. Gwinn and Martin R. Kalfatovic attended a two day meeting, "Aim, Scope, and Challenges of Research Museums: An exchange between the Smithsonian Institution and the Leibniz Association " on 30-31 October. Anne Evenhaugen also participated in the meetings as part of her Emerging Leadership Development Program. Organized by Scott Miller, Deputy Undersecretary for Collections and Interdisciplinary Support (DUSCIS), the meeting brought together a number of Smithsonian staff and representatives from a number of the 91 institutional members of the Leibniz Association. The Leibniz Association is a union of German non-university research institutes from various branches of study and has a number of similarities to the Smithsonian Institution.

The meeting opened with a discussion between Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton and
Leibniz Association President Matthias Kleiner. The two discussed areas of overlap, common goals, and areas of collaboration between the two organizations. The first session was "Understanding of Research Museums at Smithsonian and Leibniz". Participants introduced themselves and Scott Miller provided an overview of the Smithsonian while Sunhild Kleingärtner (German Maritime Museum) did the same for the Leibniz Association.

There followed a number of focus sessions:

Focus: Evaluation Systems and Metrics
  • Smithsonian Speakers: Martin Kalfatovic (Bibliometrics, SRO), Amy Marino (Metrics and dashboards, Smithsonian Profiles)
  • Leibniz: Britta Horstmann (Leibniz Head Office)
Stephanie Norby, Smithsonian Education
Focus: Collections 
  • Smithsonian Speakers: Bill Tompkins (collections space), Diane Zorich (mass digitization), Martin Kalfatovic (Biodiversity Heritage Library)
  • Leibniz: Christoph Häuser (Leibniz-MfN) (German national digitization program); Helmut Trischler (Leibniz-DM)
Focus: Exhibitions
  • Smithsonian Speakers: Rex Ellis (National Museum of African American History and Culture)
  • Leibniz: Ruth Schilling (Leibniz-DSM); Daniel Hess (Leibniz-GNM)
There followed a discussion: Discussion / Questions: What status does research have in your exhibitions? How do research and exhibitions interact? What social role and responsibility do museums have with regard to a culture of remembrance (Erinnerungskultur)?

Focus: Research Themes for Potential Collaboration 
  • Smithsonian speakers: Stephanie Norby and Carol O’Donnell (education), Bob Koestler and Paula DePriest (materials conservation)
  • Leibniz: Alexandra Busch (Leibniz-RGZM, interdisciplinary research, e.g., Educational Research, Biodiversity, Cultural Heritage as a Resource), Stefan Brüggerhoff (Leibniz-DBM, collection-based research, e.g. Material Conservation Research, Historical Authenticity)

Summary and Concluding Remarks
The meetings concluded with a session on looking at further collaborations and next steps. Smithsonian Provost John Davis joined the group for this portion of the discussion. There was a discussion about possible collaborative projects around the German+American experience. The planned exhibition research from SAAM around Alexander von Humboldt.

Other topics for further conversations included education, material conservation, audience metrics, interactions of collections and research, staff exchange (specifically on the technical, digitization, and administrative), funding and business models, initiate a Smithsonian/Leibniz communication platform

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Leibniz Association participating organizations:
  • Leibniz Association Head Office and Central Staff
  • Leibniz Association Senate 
  • Federal Ministry of Education and Research
  • Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) 
  • Deutsches Museum, Munich
  • Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
  • Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung
  • Zoological Research Museum
  • German Maritime Museum
  • ermanisches National Museum
  • Museum für Naturkunde
  • Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum 
Alexandra Busch, Director for Research
Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum
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The Smithsonian Research Online and Biodiversity Heritage Library presentations are available here:

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