Smithsonian's Small Has Big Plans for Future

Article excerpt

The new head of the Smithsonian Institution isn't satisfied with sharing its resources with its current average of about 30 million visitors a year.

"Our job is to . . . gain the attention of an entirely new segment of the population, Americans who have never heard of the Smithsonian," Lawrence M. Small said yesterday during his installation as secretary in a heated tent near the Smithsonian Castle on Jefferson Drive SW.

The installation was presided over by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who according to tradition serves as the institution's chancellor.

The morning's ceremony befitted a coronation, what with the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard and the U.S. Marine Band's brass quintet providing the sights and sounds.

But Mr. Small's vision for the Smithsonian seemed almost blue-collar in its approach if not its scope - provide the best educational services under a tight budget.

"The Smithsonian has grown to a size . . . that demands adherence to the same principles of management that today guide other large and complex enterprises," said Mr. Small, now head of the world's largest combined museum and research group.

The Smithsonian's 11th secretary spoke of spreading the educational word to the masses through traveling exhibitions and its Internet presence. Last year, 20 million people visited the institution's Web site.

"We must become a visible, active, constructive force in communities all over America," he said.

The institution's research component, however, hasn't completely held up its end of the bargain. "Science at the Smithsonian is too much of a mystery to the outside world," he said. …