A Major Reorganization Ahead at Smithsonian

By Shaw-Eagle, Joanna | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 12, 2000 | Go to article overview
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A Major Reorganization Ahead at Smithsonian


Shaw-Eagle, Joanna, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence M. Small yesterday announced plans for a major reorganization at the institution.

Mr. Small said he would make the arts agency more responsive to the needs of the American public, specifically by linking exhibits.

The secretary emphasized that there will be many more multi-museum exhibitions - mounted cooperatively by different Smithsonian museums - on the same subject at the same time.

He also announced that he will separate the institution's offices and programs into five departments: all science-based offices; all programs concerning America's history and social and cultural heritage; museums with primarily international collections; finances and administration; and business ventures.

"The plan he has is very impressive, also the great speed with which he's putting it in place," said Milo C. Beach, director of the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler and Freer galleries. "It shows he understands the Smithsonian and its problems very well."

Mr. Small took over the operation of the institution, which includes 16 museums and galleries, plus the National Zoological Park, and more than 6,500 employees and 5,000 volunteers, on Jan. 24.

"Our obligation is to fulfill the expanding expectations of our audiences," Mr. Small said. "To do so, we must marshal our resources more skillfully than ever and have in place an organization that is at once coherent, creative, flexible and responsive."

His overhaul of the institution came after spending roughly an hour each with about 90 people on the Smithsonian staff, ranging from museum directors to heads of small offices.

Mr. Small's aim, he said, is to build up the institution's strengths in the arts and sciences while streamlining its operations.

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