Should the Smithsonian Run Like A Business?

Discussion in 'Too Hot for Swamp Gas' started by ArtDeco, Sep 12, 2013.

  1. ArtDeco
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    ArtDeco Well-Known Member

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    What do you think?
    A year ago, I was in a charitable mood and donated to a lot of patriotic organizations, the Smithsonian being one. I took advantage of my donation by getting free admission to the Smithsonian this summer (this is a joke, everyone gets in free !). While taking a guided tour, I asked about funding and was surprised to learn the bulk (I think 70%) of the museum's funding is from the guvment. This is contrary to places like Colonial Williamsburg and Mount Vernon, which survive on public donations.
    The reason I mention this is they are asking private donors for more money, and I can pdf the letter saying what a financial crunch they are in, please help. However, at the same time when money is scarce and the US budget is shrinking, they are building a brand new building specifically to house an African American museum.
    Would your business, your restaurant, your office, beg for money from donors and guvment while expanding operations? Quite literally, my letter mentioned in one paragraph how the Smithsonian can't keep their current exhibits open, then the next paragraph mentions their upcoming new museum they want to build.
  2. gatornana
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    The African American museum was under construction when the budget cuts hit. The Smithsonian has put on hold any new construction, closes museums each day and has cut back on it's vast educational programs.

    The Smithsonian is a much larger museum than Mt. Vernon or Williamsburg. Budget cuts would warrant pleas for more private donations.
  3. wgbgator
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    wgbgator Sub-optimal Poster Premium Member

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    Yeah, if the mood in Washington is for cutting, the Smithsonian budget is probably going to suffer a little, so they have to rely more on private donations. Its not unlike NPR, they have a generous endowment from the Kroc widow that comprises a great deal of their funding, but $ from other private donors and gov't is pretty improtant in the way they want to operate.
  4. MichiGator2002
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    The Smithsonian probably could thrive as a private non-profit at least as well as it has under government. Whatever donations they get now are surely diminished by the knowledge that they have always been able to feed on the government, just like a church collection plate would be much lighter if the congregation knew it was also directly funded by the state.
  5. wgbgator
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    wgbgator Sub-optimal Poster Premium Member

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    Also, I believe Williamsburg and Mount Vernon charge admission, don't they? I suppose if things got really bad, the Smithsonian would simply charge $ to visitors.
  6. ArtDeco
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    ArtDeco Well-Known Member

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    This was my point exactly. Thank you for making it clearer than I did.
  7. ArtDeco
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    ArtDeco Well-Known Member

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    This was my other point. At what point do we say no free admission? All I saw when I was there were vacationers and tour groups. You telling me someone on vacation wouldn't plunk down $5 to see the Wright Bros. plane? Or the real Kermit the Frog?
  8. wgbgator
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    wgbgator Sub-optimal Poster Premium Member

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    It is the "national" museum, so I would suspect part of the idea has always been that visitors shouldnt be charged to see what is essentially their (or our) history and heritage (like many other monuments and buildings in DC). Some national museums do charge admission though (or solicit donations), but many I have been to didn't (the British Museum, I believe did not).
  9. cjgator76
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    cjgator76 Well-Known Member

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    I don't know that claiming the shorts and asking for money, while at the same time expanding, is necessarily inconsistent. Seems like nonprofits do that fairly often.
  10. AzCatFan
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    AzCatFan Well-Known Member

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    The counter argument is things housed in the Smithsonian are natural treasures, and people shouldn't be charged to view said treasures. Yes, the Smithsonian could raise significant revenues by charging admission, but is it fair to potentially price people out from viewing things that is considered public domain?

    Not sure what the answer is, but I'm against charging admission. Perhaps a suggested admission of $5 and suggested admission for students $2. I would pay it, because I can afford it and know the money is well spent. But if a person wants to go and can't necessarily pay, I don't think they should be turned away.
  11. Lawdog88
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    Agree with AZ, above.

    Also, what are they doing writing about Al Pacino in their magazine ? Dude is not remotely proximate to national treasure status.

    They should stick to museuming, and skip the New Yorker stuff.
  12. wgbgator
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    wgbgator Sub-optimal Poster Premium Member

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    Dude was Scarface and Michael Corleone. That alone was enough to clinch it, say nothing of Serpico ...
  13. Lawdog88
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    Sounds like the same guy to me. No matter what the role.
  14. texigator
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    texigator Well-Known Member

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    WARNING TO AzCatFan:

    Sit down immediately!




    I agree with you 100% here. Great idea.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. rivergator
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    rivergator Well-Known Member

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    agree also. I can put in my $5, but I want that stuff to be open to everyone.
  16. gatorev12
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    gatorev12 Well-Known Member

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    I had no problem donating when we visited the Smithsonian museums in DC a few weeks back, but don't think it should be mandatory for everyone.

    As Az said, the stuff in there are national treasures and should be open to everyone.
  17. ArtDeco
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    ArtDeco Well-Known Member

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    Wow, a solution, right here on GC!
    I knew you guys were good for something.
    Maybe someone should e-mail them about the "suggested donation".
    However, I must admit, I'm partial to what Michi had to say, too.
    Personally, I got more out of Mount Vernon and Williamsburg than I did the Smithsonian, even though the first two are quite highly priced. Again, there's probably the human nature thing where you treasure the things that cost you more. But I must admit my surprise at finding out the majority of the Smithsonian's funding was from the guvment. I asked the question as a proud donor, thinking this gave the tour guide the opportunity to announce to the sizable tour group that they were 100% fully funded by private donations and here's your chance to contribute, too! Imagine my surprise when he said that private donations only made up 30% (and have been historically dropping).
  18. G8trGr8t
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    G8trGr8t Premium Member

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    we charge admission to national parks. bet the total cost per employee and number of employees per visitor I are both out of whack with comparable entities
  19. oldgator
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    to the OP----

    Smithsonian is a business.... a non-profit business

    -----------------

    it seems you are pissed that it receives so much govt funding


    -----------------

    Frankly, there are very few non-religious/non-profit businesses that can generate enough in donations to do what Smithsonian does without govt funding. Perhaps the most notable is MDA----Jerry Lewis decided very early on to not accept contributions from the govt. since he didn't want the govt pulling strings as to what MDA should do and how it should use whatever funding it does receive. It was a very, very smart decision. However, to do what MDA has done has been achieved via a multitude of fundraising efforts year round culminating with the Labor Day Telethon. Combined with massive fund raising efforts by corporations AND unions that have allied themselves with MDA(truly a miracle to get corporations and unions willingly on the same page working together).

    so tell ya what OP, how about you get some other folks who are dead-set against Smithsonian receiving govt funding and you devote yourself year round to fundraising efforts for it. Or see about getting corporations and unions to devote time and money to the Smithsonian with the previso that they not tell Smithsonian what to do with the money.

    If you are so pissed that the Smithsonian is devoting so much money to a display that is liberal in nature---I suggest you look beyond your bias and note that Smithsonian also does many projects that can be labelled con in nature. The Smithsonian is devoted to covering as much as they can of the history, etc of the U.S. ----and liberals are part of that as are cons.
  20. oldgator
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    BTW--I'm a liberal and donate money to the Smithsonian. I also grew up in a household that was for decades very Republican, and even back then our family donated money to the Smithsonian.

    BTW---Patriotism isn't limited to cons, there are millions of liberals who are patriotic and serve in the military and have died for America.

    here's two dems for you---Sgt York, Audie Murphy. There are also a multitude of other lib dems who served America heroically including the only person to have ever served in Congress who had also been awarded the Medal of Honor for his sacrifice and heroism during WWII. But no doubt you are oblivious to that(Sen Daniel Inouye, Dem Senator who was also very close friend of Sen Bob Dole, Rep who became friends in U.S. military hospital where they were being treated for their wounds they had suffered in combat).


    but I have little doubt you cheered when congressional GOP stabbed Bob Dole in the back when he went to speak before the senate in regard to passing legislation for disabled Americans such as himself

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