TRAVERSE CITY – Imagine what it would be like to see the Columbia capsule of the Apollo 11 Command Module in person.
Not a replica of the capsule – the The Neil Armstrong capsule came out and climbed a ladder that led to the surface of the moon.
How about Armstrong’s famous words 52 years after the astronaut crew landed?
“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. “
You wouldn’t be the first. Tourists frequent the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC to do just that, which now houses the Apollo 11 capsule.
And, now the doors are open for the Dennos Museum in Traverse City to loan out national artifacts that most can only see in person on their way to the nation’s capital.
Northwestern Michigan College’s Dennos Museum Center has been approved for Smithsonian Affiliate status, joining 200 museums in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Panama.
In return for the offer of artifacts that could contribute to a collection at a Smithsonian museum in Washington, Smithsonian affiliated museums are permitted to request loans of artifacts and host traveling exhibits from those same museums.
This means that residents of Traverse City could one day get a first-hand glimpse of an artifact like Abraham Lincoln’s top hat, the 1903 Wright Flyer, the Hope Diamond, or the desk that Thomas Jefferson used for. write the declaration of independence.
All were organized by Smithsonian Museums.
It’s a two-way street, according to Craig Hadley, executive director of the Dennos Museum.
“They are also looking for partners who can power the Smithsonian system,” Hadley said. “So for us to be able to offer our Inuit collections as an opportunity to share with the Smithsonian – that’s appealing to them as well. “
The Inuit art collection at the Dennos Museum is one of the largest in the country, housing nearly 3,000 works of art. Approximately 1,600 are engravings and sculptures made by the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic, Greenland and Alaska.
Founded in the 1960s, Hadley is delighted to share the collection with the National Museum of the American Indian.
Those conversations are already happening, Hadley said.
“They’ve actually contacted us about a narwhal exhibit they’re putting together,” Hadley said. “They said, ‘Hey, you have a collection that’s definitely related to arctic wildlife, and we’d like to tell you more about the traveling shows that we’re repackaging.
“I think their conservation staff are immediately interested in contacting us and sharing ideas. “
There are only five other museums in the state of Michigan that hold Smithsonian Affiliate status, all located in the upstate. Affiliates of the Smithsonian are the Yankee Air Museum in Bellville; the Arab-American National Museum in Dearborn; the Michigan Science Center in Detroit; the Michigan State University Museum in East Lansing; and Air Zoo in Portage.
The Dennos Museum applied for affiliate status in March 2020, just as museums in the United States closed due to concerns over COVID-19. In December, Hadley said the Dennos Museum found out his application had been accepted.
He said the verification process was based on things like: What types of collections does the museum have? How far are affiliates located from each other?
Another part of the application process proved that the Dennos met museum standards for curatorial, collections maintenance, and galleries to borrow Smithsonian artifacts. It’s a process that could take up to a year with paperwork and loan fees, Hadley said, and likely won’t happen until at least 2022.
“We have a Hubble feed and all kinds of space related content in our kids gallery,” Hadley said. “One idea we had as staff was” would it make sense to maybe borrow something related to a space mission? Or the exploration of the moon? Where else in Traverse City would you get to see something like this?
For now, Hadley said residents of the TC area will be able to enjoy the digital artifacts through the Smithsonian channel.
“We can deliver Smithsonian film and media through the museum, whether it’s an in-person screening or we can broadcast content,” Hadley said. “This is something that we are excited to bring to members of the community.”
He stressed that the Dennos Museum is still open during the pandemic and will continue to open more, encouraging members to see the new programming it has to offer.
“We have two relatively new shows open,” Hadley said. “We have photographs by New York artist Dexter R. Jones, and then our inflatable contemporary art exhibit is exploding as well. “
The museum is open Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission for adults is $ 6, for children 17 and under it is $ 4, children 3 and under are free.
Membership opportunities are available starting at $ 50.
NMC students and teachers are free with ID.
“I think their conservation staff are immediately interested in
get in touch with us and bounce back some ideas. Craig Hadley, Executive Director of Dennos