WASHINGTON, DC (AP).-
New centers at The Smithsonian Institution
will focus on exploring the universe and climate change on Earth, world cultures and the American experience under a new plan approved Monday.
Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough said the four centers around those priorities would be designed to help scientists and curators foster new research. The changes approved by the Smithsonian Board of Regents will bring a new era to the 163-year-old complex, he said, vowing to break down traditional barriers between various scientific and artistic disciplines to encourage more innovation and broader work with schools and colleges.
"If we do this right, we will generate more revenue," Clough said. "Advances in the use of the Web will allow us to have a national footprint."
The plan calls for an increase of 16 percent to 32 percent in revenue to pay for new priorities. Currently, about 65 percent of the world's largest museum and research complex's $1 billion annual budget comes from Congress, though officials expect less than half the new money will come from the federal budget. Instead, Clough will lead the Smithsonian's first major capital campaign and pledged to pursue other funding sources.
In a recent interview, Clough said he wasn't worried about drawing the museums into hot political waters by focusing on tough issues such as climate change.
"Our job is to provide solid information to help people understand this story," he said. "We are not going to be evangelists on one side or the other."
Clough also announced a spike in attendance at the museums on the National Mall over the past year. About 22 million people visited the museums from January through August an increase of about 4 million compared with the same months in 2008. Several of the most popular museums began offering extended evening hours in April, which proved popular, Clough said.
Donations for the budget year ending Sept. 30 were expected to total $110 million, down from $122.4 million in the 2008 fiscal year.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.