Monday, November 26, 2007

So That's What the Smithsonian Will do!

Interesting. No sooner had I mused on the possible benefits of the privatization of the Smithsonian when the Smithsonian Board of Regents voted to undertake "the first large-scale private fund-raising effort in the organization's history." The capital campaign will seek to raise $2.5 billion in order to improve and repair its buildings. Not only will this be a departure for the federally-funded organization as the NYT points out, but the plan will also present challenges given recent controversy over corporate sponsorships and "turmoil in the institution's governance."

I, for one, support this move. Since Smithsonian Business Ventures has proved to be more news-worthy than revenue-generating and the Regents are understandably loathe to start imposing admission fees on the museums and it has been shown that the Smithsonian's infrastructure is in desperate need of maintenance, a good old-fashioned capital campaign seems like just what the doctor ordered. I also feel that it is appropriate that in conjunction with this move, the Board of Regents is also currently reviewing the way it handles corporate donations. This should help to ensure that all of the funds raised during this process will best serve the nation's largest complex of museums.

Of course, one wonders what this may mean for other smaller museums of natural history, American history and American art that may also be currently undertaking capital campaigns...

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