Sullivan Museum earns Smithsonian affiliation

Norwich University’s Sullivan Museum and History Center (SMHC) was named as a Smithsonian Affiliate and is the first military university’s museum and the first museum in Vermont out of the 196 affiliates in the program, according to the museum’s director.
The SMHS is one of three universities in the affiliate program to date since the programs beginning in 1996, Sarah Henrich, Director, Sullivan Museum and History Center said.

“It is an honor to become a Smithsonian Affiliate,” announced Richard Schneider, Norwich University President at the recognition ceremony on Sept. 2, 2014. “We are the first Smithsonian affiliate in the state of Vermont.”
In 1819 Norwich, achieved the distinction of being the first private Military College in the United States and this joining is, “another case of the living Norwich that is going on today,” Schneider said.
“This is the gold standard for museums to be a Smithsonian affiliate. This is very hard and we are very, very proud of it,” Schneider said. “This is a very special day in our history as a university.”
Norwich standards have always been high and, “acceptance into the Smithsonian Affiliates program is a great credit to the Sullivan Museum and Norwich University,” U. S. Senator Patrick Leahy said at the recognition ceremony.
“This is a gem right here in Central Vermont,” Leahy said. “It signifies the museum’s vitality and high standards.”
A Norwich graduate in 1831, George Colvocoresses, traveled the Pacific Ocean region as part of the Wilkes Expedition collecting numerous objects. Some of those objects are now on display at the SMHC, Henrich said.
“It was that expedition that actually became the nucleus of the Smithsonian and why the Smithsonian was even founded,” Henrich said. “It was to house these materials.”
After collaboration between both Norwich and the Smithsonian, “it makes perfect sense to now join forces,” Harold Closter, Director of Smithsonian Affiliations said. SMHC is, “Happily our first in Vermont.”

One of the Wilkes Expedition artifacts on loan from the Colvocoresses family on display at the SMHS.

One of the Wilkes Expedition artifacts on loan from the Colvocoresses family on display at the SMHS.

“Norwich University, founded in 1819, is one of the few Smithsonian Affiliates that is actually older than the Smithsonian,” Closter said.
When the idea was first conceived to build the SMHC the trustees took a lot of time and consideration with regards to the standards of the building, and the importance of Norwich history and the preservation of the university legacy according to Schneider.
“We properly resourced it, financed it back in the old days even when we did not have a lot of money, but we wanted to protect the things of Norwich,” Schneider said.
Norwich has been active in the preservation of historical artifacts. The design and construction of SMHC was completed to, “equate the value of storage square footage and exhibition square footage,” Henrich said. “When they designed this facility they got it right in so many ways.”
As a Smithsonian Affiliate the SMHC is now part of an exclusive group which protects the most important historical objects to the United States as well as the stories they tell Henrich said.
“We owe a huge debt to the people that passed before us that protected these wonderful artifacts,” Schneider said. “They had the vision that they knew this was really, really important and they protected it.”

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