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The Tally Ho

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Showtime at the Smithsonian

I've been a bit behind on the news lately, but I saw this article over at Kos and couldn't help by post the article here, Smithsonian Deal With Showtime Restricts Access By Filmmakers.
As part of a near-exclusive deal with Showtime Networks, the Smithsonian Institution is restricting filmmakers' access to its scientists and archives, prompting another outcry over the museum's attempts to make money.

Filmmakers who have relied on the vast holdings of the Smithsonian, and typically pay to use historic film or copy an artifact, have raised objections to the new policy of limited access to the public collections. Now most filmmakers will not have in-depth use of Smithsonian materials unless they are creating work for the Smithsonian/Showtime unit.

I don't like this at all, archives should be for public use and this looks too much like the privatization of one of our most important cultural and historical institutions. Even if you disagree with me I find the fact that they won't release the details of the contract to be troubling. But as the article points out, there have been a series of moves that have been met with skepticism
In recent years the Smithsonian has signed controversial agreements with donors for large gifts for the restoration of buildings and other needs. In return it has frequently given the donor a prominent name on a piece of Smithsonian real estate. The American History museum added "Behring Center" to its title in acknowledgement of an $80 million gift from businessman Kenneth Behring. At the National Air and Space Museum, the name of the movie theater was changed after a donation from Lockheed-Martin Corp. Those moves have all been criticized from within and outside of the Smithsonian.

Anyway, obviously I am worried about these treasures being exlusive...


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