The Smithsonian continued to baffle its partisans in Great Britain today, after announcing that is has once again downgraded its upcoming gallery exhibition from a permanent instalment to a so-called ‘two year installation.’ The temporary exhibit will be on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s nascent satellite space, which is still under construction in Queen Elizabeth Park. The Smithsonian Board of Regents did not give any specific reason for the downgrade, outside of saying it had been agreed upon by a ‘majority of the board members for a variety of reasons.’
In a separate statement, the Smithsonian’s General Secretary, Lonnie G. Bunch III, said that the venerable American institution was undergoing a long-needed review of all of the Smithsonian’s programs and installations, both at home and overseas.
The original Smithsonian was created by a legacy from an Englishman over a hundred years ago, in 1846. James Smithson was an English scientist who made a fortune turning coal gas into a stable methane gas that could be used for heating and for lighting. His process was used by every major European city for nearly forty years, and garnered Smithson a sizable fortune. He left the bulk of his estate to the city of Washington D.C. to ‘create a national museum that celebrates the work of the American genius.’