Kentucky Historical Society
Smithsonian Senior Curator Assumes #2 Spot at Kentucky Historical Society
FRANKFORT, Ky. --- Only a few weeks ago, Marilyn A. Zoidis was senior curator of one of the nation’s most treasured artifacts, the Star-Spangled Banner, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. As of November 1, she is the assistant director at the Kentucky Historical Society, headquartered at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in Frankfort; her major responsibilities are museum collections and exhibitions.
“We are thrilled that Marilyn Zoidis has chosen to bring her considerable talent and vast experience to the Kentucky Historical Society,” says Kent Whitworth, executive director of KHS. “She is distinctively qualified to provide leadership as we continue to understand, cherish and share Kentucky’s history. She will be instrumental as we steer the course for the future of the Kentucky Historical Society.”
Since 1999, Zoidis served as senior curator of the Star-Spangled Banner Project at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. She was involved in exhibition planning, collections development, educational activities, and conservation decisions for the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that flew over Baltimore’s Fort McHenry on September 14, 1814. Francis Scott Key, upon seeing the enormous flag flying proudly after a 25-hour British bombardment, was inspired to write the poem, which later became America’s national anthem.
The Smithsonian has cared for the Star-Spangled Banner for nearly a century and placed it on view for the American people. The Star-Spangled Banner Project, formally launched in 1998, applied the latest scientific research and techniques to preserve the fragile woolen and cotton fibers of the flag and to exhibit it in a controlled environment that still allows the public to appreciate its history and meaning.
Zoidis first visited the Kentucky Historical Society last summer as the featured speaker during the exhibition on Kentucky’s historic flags, History Unfurled: Flying Kentucky’s Flags, at the Society’s Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History. “She just fit right in during that weekend,” Whitworth recalls. “We never imagined that her visit would lead to this appointment. We are very pleased that Kentucky will benefit from her expertise.”
The Star- Spangled Banner exhibition at the Smithsonian ended when the National Museum of American History closed its doors in September for a two-year major renovation project. While Zoidis had the opportunity to remain in Washington, she was intrigued by the opportunities presented in Kentucky. “I was impressed with the Society’s rich collections, professional staff, and grand buildings. But most of all I was drawn in by the commitment of Kentuckians to their history and its preservation,” says Zoidis.
“Obviously, Marilyn is eminently qualified to be entrusted with the care of Kentucky’s treasures and telling their stories,” says Whitworth, who has headed the Society’s operations since 2004. “Her rich professional experience also includes leadership at regional and local historical societies, cultural and historical scholarship, as well as serving as a public school educator.”
During the 1980s and 1990s, Zoidis served as director for research and collections at the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania and as executive director of the Freeport (Maine) Historical Society and the Bangor (Maine) Historical Society. She began her professional life as a middle and high school social studies teacher.
During her seven-year tenure at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Zoidis curated several exhibitions that explored the complex meaning of the American flag. July 1942: United We Stand presented a lively collection of magazine covers featuring the American flag. In 2002, she co-curated September 11: Bearing Witness to History, which commemorated the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States. So Proudly We Hail brought together four historic World War II flags, including one raised at Iwo Jima and the first American flag to enter Berlin after the German surrender. The exhibition coincided with the dedication of the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in 2004.
Among Zoidis’s published works are “Expressions of Patriotism: Symbols of A New Nation” and Woodsmen and Whigs: Historic Images of Bangor, Maine. She is a frequent resource for radio, television, and Web-based interviews.
As a former history teacher, Zoidis seeks ways to engage the public in learning about our national past. She holds advanced degrees in education and American history. Zoidis was recognized for her contributions to the National Museum of American History with the Director’s Award for Outstanding Contributions and a Peer Recognition Award for Special Achievement. Active in the academic fields of cultural history, public history and museum studies, Zoidis serves as a Visiting Scholar for the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.
To schedule interviews with Ms. Zoidis, please contact the office of public relations and marketing at the Kentucky Historical Society, 502-564-1792, ext. 4476 or by e-mail: email@example.com.
An agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, the Kentucky Historical Society, since 1836, has provided connections to the past, perspective on the present and inspiration for the future. KHS operates the Old State Capitol, the Kentucky Military History Museum, and its headquarters, the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History. Since 1999, the thirty-million-dollar Center has welcomed more than one million visitors. For more information about the Kentucky Historical Society and its programs, visit the Website at http://history.ky.gov.