New director will oversee programming for Arts and Industries Building

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Rachel Goslins, the former executive director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, has been named director for the Arts and Industries Building beginning Aug. 22. She will be responsible for developing and implementing plans for the building, including programming, exhibitions and infrastructure.

Portrait of Goslins

Rachel Goslins becomes director of the Arts and Industries Building, effective August 22, 2016 (Photo by Blink Photography)

The Smithsonian is developing plans for the building to also host a Smithsonian Latino gallery that will draw from the expertise and collections across the Institution. A dedicated gallery space will allow the Smithsonian to continue to tell the important and growing story of Latinos in America in a more comprehensive and focused way.

Before joining the Smithsonian, Goslins was the executive director of PCAH (2009–2015), which advises the White House on cultural policy. While there, she facilitated significant private investment in the arts and humanities and launched several major national initiatives, including “Turnaround: Arts,” which brings arts education to the country’s lowest-performing elementary schools; “Film Forward,” a film-based cultural diplomacy program; and the National Student Poets Program, the nation’s top honor for youth poets.

Goslins also worked with the Smithsonian, UNESCO and the U.S. State Department on the Haiti Cultural Recovery Project to rescue, recover and restore Haitian artwork, artifacts and documents damaged or endangered by the 2010 earthquake and its aftermath.

Before joining PCAH, Goslins was an awarding-winning documentary filmmaker and producer, directing feature documentaries and working on productions for PBS, Discovery, National Geographic and History. She was also the director of the Independent Digital Distribution Lab, a joint PBS/ITVS project.

Goslins began her career as an international copyright attorney. She received her bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her Juris Doctorate from UCLA’s School of Law. She is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and serves on the advisory committee for the Halcyon Social Entrepreneurship Incubator at the S&R Foundation.

The Arts and Industries Building

After being closed for nearly 12 years, the Arts and Industries Building reopened for special events last fall and has hosted several activities, including the 2016 Folklife Festival Marketplace and the Asian Pacific American Center’s “Crosslines Culture Lab” and exhibition (Memorial Day weekend), which explored in new and innovative ways important issues of identity in America.

The building opened in 1881 as the “United States National Museum” and has served since then as an initial home for the collections of the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of American History, the National Air and Space Museum and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Shortly before its opening to the general public, the building was the venue of the official inaugural ball for President James A. Garfield.

In the 1960s, a lineup of rockets outside the building was a popular display of new technology. In 1976, following a partial renovation, the building reopened with a huge exhibition in honor of the nation’s bicentennial. “1876: A Centennial Exhibition” gave visitors a sense of the centennial exposition in Philadelphia with the latest inventions, medical instruments, steam-powered machines and a locomotive on display. The exhibition was phased out in the 1990s, and the four exhibition halls were open for changing exhibits, often from other museums around the country.

Posted: 11 August 2016
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3 Responses to New director will oversee programming for Arts and Industries Building
    • Mignon Erixon-Merritt
    • Seeking to broaden my horizons as a 23 year-old, I transferred from STRI. Striding through the main doors on my way to “Personnel”, I encountered an old coffee grinder from the Philadelpha Company that was the exact model that I’d lovingly used as a child in Panama. I felt that the building had given me a big welcoming hug. But it was the staff – the Smithsonian family – that made the A&I “home” for 26 years. Although the offices moved, staff increased, the exhibits decreased, it holds many happy and humorous memories. My children grew up exploring the nooks and crannies of the building, delighted in visiting the museum on weekends. They used what they saw & learned in the exhibits as a foundation for many a school project. We loved riding the Carousel!

      The Shops were located off the main entry. The “Personnel Dept” (now known as OHR), and the Building Manager’s office was located in the Northwest quadrant. The Magazine, “Computer Services” (now OCIO), and Affiliations occupied the Southwest quadrant. The mainframes were housed on the third floor. The Archives and “Education Dept” (now SCEMS) occupied the Northeast quadrant. TSA, OFEO and AHHP shared space in the Southeast quadrant.

      Some exhibits rotated. We surreptitiously peeped from the balcony offices as movie scenes were filmed for “First Monday in October”. We marvelled at the orchid shows and participated in decorating the Christmas trees. We served as models for the “Death Mask” exhibit. When there was a dagguerotype exhibit, the shops hired a fellow to make tintypes for visitors.

      Some of the exhibits ran on various schedules. The pipe organ located on the SE balcony played multiple times throughout the day and we would hear strains of music filtering through the cubicles as staff opened and closed the doors. At 11am and 3pm, we would hear the quiet “chhh” sounds of the Corliss steam engine that was embedded in the marble floor of the west hall.

      We have humorous stories of surviving the various times when the weight of snow and ice broke through the skylights. We have sad memories of what we were doing when an assasination attempted was made on President Reagan, when the national tragedies of the space shuttle Columbia and 9-11 occurred.

      As the paint began to blister, water ran down the walls, entire offices moved out, our hearts broke. We felt a deep loss when the building was shuttered and we moved to new digs in 2006. We waited with bated breath to find out if the funding would be appropriated to restore the national treasure that had housed so much for so many. We are glad she’s back.

      Yes indeed, the A&I building has a special place in my heart.
      Thank You, Jim Hobbins, for caretaking the A&I for all those years.
      Welcome Rachel Goslins. May you be blessed with many happy memories caretaking the Arts & Industries building.

    • jim doherty
    • For many years the editorial staff of Smithsonian magazine occupied three floors of one corner of the A&I Building. My own office on the 3rd floor overlooked the staff parking lot that became the subterranean African arts museum, topped by the Enid Haupt (I think) gardens. It would be an understatement to say there was a synergy between the A&I Building and the magazine. I was by no means the only staffer who fell in love with that quirky place. It was always fun– okay, inspiring– to walk in there every day past the goofy artifacts from the Columbian Exposition, the shimmering fountain under the central dome, the noisy line of school kids awaiting admittance to the mini-theater adjacent to the magazine’s first-floor suite of offices . . . and then to climb the Charles Adams staircase up to my cozy perch. To my mind no building on the Mall, not even the Castle, personified, if you will, the spirit and personality of the Institution as well as “ours.” Working late nights in the shadowy confines of that historic place I often somehow felt a connection to its past and to other folks long gone who no doubt felt the same way I did: Lucky to be quartered in such a unique place doing important work for such a classy, fascinating employer. I lost track of the number of writers who remarked, upon visiting our offices, how “perfect” the A&I building was for a magazine dedicated to celebrating what the Smithsonian Institution was all about. Toward the end of my nearly 20-year association, we magaziners had to vacate the A&I Building for new, sterile quarters downtown. For me, and for other staffers, no small amount of the magic that had made our work seem so special was lost in that transition. If the “new” A&I Building is to become a laboratory for creativity, its newly appointed director could do worse than bring Smithsonian magazine back home . . . back where it began, and where it still belongs.

      • Beth Lieberman
      • @disqus_WkPhUDJb9g:disqus Jim Doherty. What a great tribute to our special place. And what a great idea! #SmithsonianMagReturns. I might add that our third floor offices was home to the truly cool editors—or perhaps it was more about those of us in possession of enough vigor to climb all those winding stairs.