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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 29, July 16, 2006, Article 32

SMITHSONIAN FUNDING DEALS QUESTIONED

Relating to our earlier discussions of the National Numismatic
Collection at the Smithsonian Institution and the recent proposal
to begin charging admission fees, a subscriber writes: "For some
time I've been wondering how the Smithsonian got itself mired in
its current situation.  As I'm sure you know, they've become
involved in controversial deals with private donors and corporations.
For example, the National Museum of American History is now named
the 'Behring Center' to reflect the name of a major donor.
Unfortunately, these gifts usually come with strings attached.
Thus, the Smithsonian has been forced to change to keep itself
afloat.

This article in the L.A. Times is the first I've seen that deals
with the broader problem faced by the Smithsonian.  I don't know
if the readership of the E-Sylum would find this interesting or
relevant, but it may illuminate the reason for the downsizing
of the numismatic exhibit."

"The Smithsonian Institution, our national museum and also a
scientific research complex, is at a crisis point. Many of its
20 venues, such as the National Museum of Natural History and
the National Air and Space Museum, need tens of millions of dollars
in work. Desperate for funds, the Smithsonian has made arguably
improper arrangements with big business, and it has accepted funding
from corporations with an all-too-obvious interest in what goes on
view in the institution's museums. But the real crisis is this:
Congress seems to have barely noticed.

How bad is the situation? Last year, the Government Accountability
Office, a bureaucracy not given to hyperbole, found "major structural
deterioration" in Smithsonian buildings and "chronic leaks." At
least two historic aircraft at the Air and Space Museum have been
water-damaged. Several buildings are rife with mold. Water has
flowed into at least four museums, well before last month's rains."

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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