Brought to You by . . . Smithsonian Institution Chief Defends Corporate Sponsorships of Exhibits

Article excerpt

The Smithsonian Institution is going to seek more corporate sponsors for its exhibits to avoid stagnation, its director said Tuesday.

I. Michael Heyman, the secretary of the Smithsonian, told the National Press Club that he sees nothing wrong with corporate logos being displayed beside exhibits financed by companies' gifts.

For example, he defended the decision that allowed the Museum of Natural History's Insect Zoo to be named after Otto Orkin, founder of the pest control company that bears his name. When that was done, he recalled, one letter writer complained, "Naming the Insect Zoo after the founder of a company whose sole aim is to exterminate insects is like . . . naming a cancer clinic after a tobacco company." With government money scarce, Heyman said, the Smithsonian is going to go after corporate funding more aggressively. "If we find funds nowhere else, we are doomed, at best, to a static future, and at worse to one of continuing erosion," he said. On this, he said, he is no purist - not "someone who believes that a connection with a corporate sponsorship is a capitulation to all that is crass in an overly commercialized society. …