July 28, 2006 — The Kentucky Horse Park’s International Museum of the Horse learned this month that it has been approved to become a new affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. Smithsonian Affiliations is a unique outreach initiative that allows museums and educational and cultural institutions to obtain Smithsonian collections for exhibition. The program’s mission is to make the extensive Smithsonian collection more accessible to the American people by sharing artifacts and other resources with museums and cultural institutions across the country.
In addition to artifact loans, the Smithsonian helps affiliate organizations identify other Smithsonian resources to accompany exhibit loans: education and performing arts programs, expert speakers, teacher workshops and technical assistance. Smithsonian Affiliates also receive access to professional development workshops and research opportunities for staff, and internships for students in affiliate communities.
“This is a wonderful honor for our museum,” said John Nicholson, park executive director. “Having the opportunity to access the collections of the Smithsonian will be a tremendous asset in raising the International Museum of the Horse to an even higher standard prior to hosting the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010.”
The Smithsonian considers proposals from institutions whose missions are parallel to the Smithsonian’s and who demonstrate a strong commitment to serving their communities. Since 1996, affiliate museums have borrowed more than 7,000 artifacts from the Smithsonian collections.
“Being accepted as an affiliate by an organization as prestigious as the Smithsonian Institution is a true watershed event for the International Museum of the Horse,” said Bill Cooke, the museum’s director. “This partnership will open doors for us to expand our interpretation of the relationship between horse and man by incorporating both art and artifacts form the nation’s preeminent museum into our exhibits. At the same time, it will allow our staff to develop their knowledge and skills under the guidance of some of the nation’s finest museum professionals. We are very honored to receive this designation.”
The goal of Smithsonian Affiliations is to establish long-term, meaningful relationships with similar organizations in order to maximize the cultural and educational benefits that they can bring to a community. More than 20.6 million people visited Smithsonian affiliate museums and gained exposure to the Smithsonian through programs, performances, events, media recognition and business initiatives in 2005. More than 7.5 million visitors saw Smithsonian artifacts at affiliate venues, and attendance at some affiliate museums increased as much as 37 percent as a result of loaned Smithsonian collections in 2005.
“The International Museum of the Horse is one of America’s great treasures,” said Harold A. Closter, director of Smithsonian Affiliations. “Their commitment to education and the display of world class exhibits enriches our understanding of the unbreakable link between horses and humankind. We are very proud to establish this affiliate partnership between the International Museum of the Horse and the Smithsonian Institution and look forward to an exciting exchange of artifacts, programs and ideas.”