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The colossal Smithsonian Institution adopts two Central Texas cultural groups

Michael Barnes
Austin 360
A statue of Adm. Chester Nimitz, fleet commander of the Pacific in World War II, stands before the National Museum of the Pacific War that houses more than 900 war artifacts. The museum is located in Fredericksburg.

Two Central Texas cultural groups have earned special status from the Smithsonian Institution, the largest museum and research complex in the world.

The Washington, D.C.-based outfit has chosen the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg as one of more than 200 Smithsonian Affiliates.

"Being aligned with the Smithsonian name is a prestigious honor and one we've worked hard to earn over the years," said museum director Rorie Cartier. "We are looking forward to the wide range of enrichment the Smithsonian Affiliations program will bring to the museum experience, including new programming that we'll offer to our members and guests."

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The Fredericksburg museum, part of the Texas Historical Commission's remit, spreads over several blocks and includes scores of high-quality history exhibits. In fact, it's probably the only museum in Central Texas where it's best to split the experience into two days, with an overnight stay in the Hill Country magnet.

Meanwhile, the Smithsonian has acquired the archives of Austin's Women & Their Work, which for 42 years has promoted the art and careers of women artists. Eighty boxes of artist files, letters, press clippings, newspaper/magazine reviews, grant applications, consultant reports, photographs, playbills, performance calendars, recordings, slides and financial records are set to join the more than 16 million items already at the Smithsonian. 

A special item on its way to Washington: a letter from iconic artist Georgia O'Keefe to Women & Their Work co-founder Rita Starpattern. 

The items will all go to the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art.

"From its location in the heart of Texas, Women & Their Work has fostered feminist art and art by women from across the nation since the 1970s," Smithsonian collector Josh Franco said in a statement, "and the archives is thrilled to be the home of these records documenting its foundational decades."

In 2013, the city of Austin's parks and recreation program, which runs several museums and cultural sites, became a Smithsonian Affiliate.