This morning, I found more sad news about the underfunding of science museums by the Federal Govt. Today, it’s the closure of the Dinosaur Park Quarry:
“A National Park Service visitor center that was built over a dinosaur bone quarry has been deemed unsafe and closed indefinitely.”
Yesterday it was the underfunding of the Smithsonian, including major structural issues in the Air and Space Museum.
“According to the GAO, the Smithsonian will need at least $2.3 billion for building costs, anti-terrorism protection and scheduled and deferred maintenance by 2013. The problems extend beyond capital improvements to the day-to-day as well. In an attempt to lower energy costs, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden recently restricted hot-water use in its building.”
This is of great interest to me, because over the years I have seen more and more “partnerships” form between a Smithsonian desperate for cash, and corporations desperate to look green, or like good corporate citizens. Some of these partnerships are a little ironic, such as the Orkin Insect Zoo. (note that one of the main exhibits is a house filled with insects.)
Then there are things like the removal of the electric car from display, and replacing it with an SUV. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that GM is a major donor to the Smithsonian.
So, what are the feds doing with their money? Perhaps focusing on protecting important targets on the The National Asset Database from terrorism?
“Old MacDonaldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Petting Zoo, the Amish Country Popcorn factory, the Mule Day Parade, the Sweetwater Flea Market and an unspecified Ã¢â‚¬Å“Beach at End of a Street….The inspector general questions whether many of the sites listed in whole categories Ã¢â‚¬â€ like the 1,305 casinos, 163 water parks, 159 cruise ships, 244 jails, 3,773 malls, 718 mortuaries and 571 nursing homes Ã¢â‚¬â€ should even be included in the tally.Ã¢â‚¬Â
I’m guessing that a lot of legislators and state officials saw the terror list as an opportuntity to get some boosted funding by including anything and everything on this terror list. I wish I could think of a way to create a similar sense of urgency about the need to fund preserving the opportunity to discover and interact with history and natural science in museums.