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New Smithsonian chief sees technological future

February 17, 2009 |  3:45 pm

Wayne_clough_2When Wayne Clough, right, the new secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, delivered his installation address in Washington, D.C., last month, he spoke about new technology as a key to the troubled organization's future.

"We need to make our collections, talented scholars and other resources accessible worldwide by providing additional platforms and vehicles for educating and inspiring large audiences," he said. "Our job is to authenticate and inform the significance of the collections, not to control access to them. It is no longer acceptable for us to share only 1% of our 137 million specimens and artifacts in an age when the Internet has made it possible to share it all. In doing this, the relevance of the Smithsonian to education can be magnified many times over."

Seven months into his new job, the former president of Georgia Institute of Technology faces many challenges. As successor to Lawrence M. Small, who resigned last year amid charges of financial abuse and irresponsible governance, Clough must restore faith in the Smithsonian, which gets about 65% of its $1-billion annual budget from the federal government. At the same time, he must revitalize and update a gargantuan institution that runs 19 museums, nine research centers, the National Zoo and research projects around the world.

On a recent trip to Los Angeles to meet with Smithsonian associates and supporters, Clough took a break to talk about what's going on at his new professional home.

For more for on the subject, read the story here or in Wednesday's Calendar section.

-- Suzanne Muchnic

Photo credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times   

Comments () | Archives (1)

I like the forthrightness of terms like "unacceptable" when describing museum's missions to engage with the public in more meaningful ways. I don't think I've run across such a direct statement regarding museums' use of technology. I'll be anxious to watch the Smithsonian's progress in this as I find most museums' are hit or miss in this regard.


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