You’re killing me, here

Since long before I ever set foot in one of its storied museums, I have fostered a fantastical love for the Smithsonian Institute. Just the very idea of it fills me with starry-eyed science geek admiration. An enormous complex of museums, each devoted to a different area of culture and science, situated in the most beautiful part of our nation’s capital. Just a stone’s throw away from that other swoon-inducing building, the Library of Congress. But the best part of all is the mission set down by James Smithson, that it be “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge”. For us, you and me, free of charge, to help us grow as individuals.


I had an entire sequence of dreams about working for the Smithsonian in any number of capacities (depending on my interests at the time). Historian, archaeologist, biologist, geologist, librarian, archivist. Looking out over the grounds from my office in the Castle, as I work on my latest treatise or research. (Hey, it’s my fantasy, I can have an office anywhere I want.)

So, it is with all my heart that I say to the Smithsonian: BAD DOG! Seriously, I’m getting a little tired of reading about corruption, stupidity, and cowardice at the nation’s grandest intellectual institution. These past few years have been just cringe-worthy.

May 2003: The Museum of Natural History moves an exhibit of photographs of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to a more obscure location and changes captions, just as the argument about oil drilling becomes particularly contentious. via Washington Post

June 2005: The Museum of Natural History allows a screening of a creationist documentary, despite its policy that it will not show films that are religious or political in content. via WP

April 2006: The Smithsonian’s new business arm signs an exclusive film deal with Showtime, restricting the access of filmmakers not affiliated with that company. via WP

May 17, 2007: The CEO of Smithsonian Business Ventures leaves amidst congressional inquiries into SBV business practices, including exorbitant expense accounts and sweetheart promotions. via WP

May 22, 2007: The Museum of Natural History (again!) is accused of toning down an exhibit on climate change due to the perceived political climate. via WP

I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. (I’m also starting to make myself a little nauseous.) Now, I know it must be difficult running a ship as large and complex as the Smithsonian, especially given the forces at work in D.C. However, SI has a responsibility to the American people. So, shape up, dammit. Don’t make me come up there.


One Response

  1. It was the film deal that got my snit on… contract language was left intentionally vague, the little of it that has been released (excuse being that Showtime is a private company, but that’s sketchy, too, as the Smithsonian ISN’T, and the details of their deal would seem to be open to FOIA requests…).

    Also, it reminded me of their arrangement with HarperCollins, which killed the Smithsonian Press.


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