Monday, March 26, 2007

Alberto Gonzales is saying, "at least I don't work at the Smithsonian..."

It just keeps getting worse for America's national museum. Revulsion over the pay and spending of Smithsonian chief Lawrence M. Small has inspired the full U.S. Senate to freeze the institution's public funding and cap executive salaries at no more than the President's (which would mean a pay cut of more than 50% for Small). The former auditor of the place claimed Small pressured her to back off looking into his spending, and today Small finally did the obvious.

Of course that whole thing follows the general disgust over the Smithsonian's deal last year with Showtime, an issue which remains unresolved.

Meanwhile, and apparently unrelated to the above, a blue-ribbon panel appointed in 2005 by the Smithsonian has concluded that the institution's eight art museums are "failing on many levels." The panel's leaked report says, according to The Art Newspaper, that “The Smithsonian’s art collections, taken together, might be expected to be a kind of national encyclopedia of the world’s art, like those in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, or Chicago; but in reality they are not. [And] to the extent that their designation as ‘national’ museums implies qualitative superiority and leadership, they have seldom lived up to their names.”

Ouch and double ouch...the panel thinks at least two Smithsonian-related art museums should be flat-out closed, and is barely more kind about a couple of others. With the director of the National Museum of Natural History keeping Small's chair warm, the Smithsonian is conducting a national search for his permanent replacement. They're going to need somebody a lot sharper than they've had lately, from all appearances.

1 comment:

Stephen Drone said...

I find info that this vote is unanimous, and I find info that this should has to go through a joint House-Senate review, but I can't find any info on the specific voice vote or the amendment number.