tv Secretary Albert Horvath Testimony on the State of the Smithsonian CSPAN July 11, 2015 3:05pm-4:01pm EDT
you are watching american history tv on -- american history tv all weekend. the smithsonian institution was established by congress in 1846 and is now the largest museum and research complex. coming up next, the house administration committee holds a hearing on the state and future of the myths -- of the smithsonian institution. the acting secretary of the smithsonian and testifies on the museum's, efforts to digitize collections or educational purposes, and the progress of the african history and culture museum. this is about 50 minutes.
we appreciate your staff bringing you in. before i make my opening statement, we all have had an opportunity to look at some of the coolest things here. it is a bit unusual for a committee hearing to have a smithsonian artifact here. everybody will have a chance to take a look at the mall. they are really unbelievable. you have some meteorites here. sort of makes you think dress part. -- think of jurassic park. we have the first artificial heart. a picture of harriet tubman.
somebody took a lot of pride in keeping that picture. everyone will have a chance to take a look at these artifact. we thought it would be a way to set the stage for what goes on. when i leave here i'm going to try to get a job at the smithsonian, it is difficult to you today we are holding this hearing to discuss the current priorities of the smithsonian institution, as well as challenges and opportunities on the horizon. congress established the smithsonian institution in 18:46 to carry out the will of anger scientist james sin.
since that time the smithsonian's have developed into the largest museum and research complex in the world with nine research centers. the smithsonian collection includes more than 138 million items, which form the basis of the institution's exhibit, educational program, and research activities. more than 28 million people's visited the smithsonian museum and the national museum. the smithsonian us more than our nation's attic. it plays an important role in collecting, preserving, and making our nations history. while the institution encompasses renowned museums which all of our constituents appreciate visiting at zero cost, it also includes research for panama and an astrophysical
observatory in massachusetts and affiliated museums across the u.s.. continually increasing the reach of knowledge. this committee commends the smithsonian for identifying those opportunities. the committee is interested to hear how the smithsonian is revitalizing education. there were significant challenges managing such a complex entity. one ongoing challenges to serve as steward of their vast collection.
range in size and scope and diversity. from small organisms to insects. the smithsonian collections was uneventful to achieving the smithsonian's mission. management indicated work was ongoing to improve collection management and plan for the future. we look for to hearing about that progress. in addition we would like to receive an update on how the institution is preparing for the national museum of african american street and culture. that opening is targeted for completion next year and a recent announcement regarding the smithsonian exhibition space possibly being part of a cultural complex in london.
the smithsonian institution's cherish -- is cherished by all americans and each of us feel a responsibility to ensure the success of his valued institution and continued operation future generations. the smithsonian is truly one of the great measure -- great treasures of our nation and the world. we thank our witness for his attendance. i will for -- i will formally intro him. i like to recognize a ranking member. m thank you very much madam chair printing -- >> thank you very much madam chair. i apologize for that. i appreciate the opportunity to be here.
this disappearing rising expectations for this million that for the smithsonian institution -- expectations for the smithsonian institution -- it is magnificent. raising a record amount of private funds for an institution of museum and american latino in the smithsonian has been recommended by national commission reviewed by our committee this year. a proposed national women's history museum is about to be studied by another commission. and the visitors advanced levels are on the rise. i commend the acting secretary.
thank you very much for ability to step in quickly. this is a busy season for our constituents, who visit the smithsonian during the warmer months. we often hear from them how much they enjoyed the experience. going to the natural -- to the national portrait ellery. also to see the landscape my understanding is it is about to go in for some needed work. it was very exciting to see those two magnificent paintings. i believe that is the deal. i welcome you to this hearing. it is such a joy to have you here. we are very proud of the institution at all the work you have done.
>> to any other members wish to make an opening comment or statement? at this time i would like to introduce our witness. he became the acting secretary of the smithsonian on january 1 of this year following -- he will serve until the end of this month. a very fast plays -- very fast paced sufferable month. david gordon will take over as the 13th secretary of the smithsonian on july 1. as acting secretary he oversees multiple projects underway within the smithsonian institution. before they become acting secretary he was the undersecretary for financement -- for finance administration.
we are happy to say that is a position he will be returning to as well. his career spanned more than 30 years in the administration at more than five to universities. we recognize you for your statements. >> thank you for this opportunity to testify this morning. this is a public-private partnership dedicated to the increase of knowledge. 40% from philanthropy and other sources. the federal commitment provides the critical foundation for all that we do. we are grateful from the administration.
i assure you the confidence is more than justified. the state of the smithsonian is strong. we will welcome our 13th secretary on july 1, currently present in cornell. it's january 1 i have been privileged to serve as acting secretary created i will return to my previous post as chief financial officer. smithsonian is more efficient and entrepreneurial than ever. it is more effective than offering close of authentic experiences of what it means to be an american. on may 8 i stood atop our american history museum to witness the world war ii flyover , so bring victory and europe day. our national air and space museum director participated.
the former assistant commandant of the marine corps was in the p 51 mustang that executed the missing man maneuver. the next day some of the participating planes were on display in our air and space museum's. the center also houses, among many treasures, the space shuttle discovery, which flew over the national mall three years ago. online we offer three-dimensional scan of the right liar that any lifetime learner can download free of charge. i saw our national museum of african american history and culture rising out of the ground. museum curators have collected more than 33,000 artifacts including the spirit of tuskegee airplane.
we have an ambitious agenda. the first phase of our west wing reopens on july 1. the gallery reopens on november 13 after a significant revitalization. we can offer so much to so many people because smithsonian is the largest complex in the world. 20 libraries, nine research centers. and 201 affiliate is he him's in 45 states. we operate in 130 countries. we are coming to you through digital technology. more than 200 websites attract
more than 100 million unique visitors. last year our museums or galleries had 27 visits and another 4.5 billion people -- four point 5 million people visited our traveling exhibitions. our collections totaled 138 million objects including 100 million scientific specimens 300,000 works of art, 200 library volumes, more than 2000 live animals, and much more. some of those treasures you see on the table in front of you. we protect and present some of the nation's greatest treasures. the portrait of george washington to the skeleton of the t racks. we take stewardship of these treasures very seriously. we have made many improvements
and completed an in-depth study of collections that will inform our long-term capital plan. our scientists are making important discoveries, especially regarding biodiversity issues for global earth observatory network. it's worldwide partnership is monitoring the health of 6 million trees in 24 countries. we seek to replicate the success and assess the health of coastal areas and the ocean. we offer a american, asian, and african art. we deliver materials to students and teachers in more than 50 states. all tied to state standards available online for free. our smithsonian science education center has been improving k-12 education in our nation's schools through the fate of stem program. of we do have concerns about the
age and upkeep of our 12 million of kiva facilities. particularly at our air and space museum, our gallery of art, the castle, and other places. we need your continued support in those areas to support the vitality of the space. 6400 dedicated employees and generous volunteers are creative, resource full, and dedicated to our mission. that is why for the fifth year in a row the smithsonian was ranked as one of the best places to work in federal government. all of us are honored to be part of this great american institution. as we face exciting opportunities and imposing challenges, we will carefully stewart the critical resources provided by the federal government. i thank you for this opportunity and i look forward to your questions. >> you mentioned you had 138 million artifacts. the miller family has a bit of
history with one of those. my husband was a fighter pilot in vietnam and delivered an f 100, which is now on display there. all the old fighter plot -- fighter pilots like to hang around. my first question for you is really -- i was looking through your strategic plan. as you mention how you really want to increase and revitalize education, i have a particular interest in that. michigan where i come from, was so very hard hit her in the painful economic transition. we could hardly get on the bus to take a field trip anywhere. one of the things we try to do was just to make sure there's
this fantastic wealth of knowledge in all of these things happening, whether it is the library of congress with the smithsonian or how we can have the resources to make them part of that curriculum. they are so used to accessing everything electronically. they really are amazing what they are doing. that is part of your revitalizing education strategic plan, and how you can accomplish education throughout the entire country here, making sure that kids have access to all of these fantastic avenues of knowledge. >> we have these wonderful objects into tremendous research. to get this information out as broadly and widely as possible. we had a tradition of the
education being an important aspect of what we do. we've been providing science curriculums free of charge throughout the country tailored to local standards for teachers, students, and school districts. we feel it is important to try to address the issue, a place where a couple of our priorities come together as education digitization. one of the buzz phrases we have developed is if you can come to the smithsonian we want to get the smithsonian to you. one of the strategies to do that is through digitalization. all of these objects we have, we try to digitize all of them make them available to people across the country and across the world for students of higher education and lifelong word -- lifelong learners.
they can be studied and work within a classroom and in our spaces in washington dc. we are working on 3-d printing so not only can you render 3-d -- 3-d objects online the transfer them to printers and have your students create their own models of the space shuttle we are in fact in the middle of digitizing the space shuttle at this current time. all of these activities were focused on trying to continue to play an important role in forwarding education across the country. >> i guess the national zoo is your biggest visitor. it is the air and space museum i believe that has the most amount of visitors. >> they are always know kent. -- voice net and neck -- they
are always neck snack. >> maybe you can tell us how you are planning for that and what we need to be aware of here. >> we have a long-term capital plan. 12 million square feet of space. keeping those buildings vital and functional is important for us. we had envisioned it being our next big priority following the completion of the national museum of african american history and culture. as we began the process of assessing the work we needed to do in doing our feasibility study, we unfortunately covered -- unfortunately uncover the fact that the facade that is comprised is actually thinner in
size than it should have been. after 40 years of wear and tear it is starting to crack. we had three independent assessments by experts, and they all can include it that still needs to come down and be replaced. all of the stone will need to be replaced. that is in addition to the other work we need to have conflict -- we contemplated. completing repairs on the roof and the like. the building opened in july 1976. it was built with a notion that we would receive 3 million visitors per year. we now received six or seven. it has received a lot of wear and tear than what has been envisioned.
precious and delicate objects like this has advanced as well. we are looking at a price take a $500 million to fully renovate that building. it is a project we are currently in the process of designing. we hope to begin construction on the renovation some time in 2017. our plan is to try to keep fortunes of the building open to the public. since it is one of the most heavily visited museums in the world and one of our most heavily visited we don't want to take all the projects off-line if we can possibly avoid that. >> i appreciate that. >> thank you very much. i would be remiss to say we have
the san diego aerospace museum that is affiliated with the smithsonian. you get a lot of the pilots hang around, but they also teach the kids how to work on planes and how to repair them and create them. i have had a chance to go there a few times. they were mystified in the smithsonian. i think there are five institutions in balboa park that are affiliated with the smithsonian. we appreciate that in san diego. i do want to ask a couple of questions, does the smithsonian have a public position on the creation of a potential museum of american latino, and if
congress were to authorize it could the smithsonian absorb the working project? >> we would be honored to add such a museum and we would do everything in our power to do an exceptional job in delivering the museum. >> same question, what effect does the administration have on the smithsonian's operations in the last few years. >> the budgetary uncertainty around the federal budget has certainly forced us to do a lot of scenario planning and central programs. we were able to weather the --
we were able to weather the sequestration implemented a couple of years ago. we have done a lot of preparation, but we knew if there were long-term and additional reductions made, we would have to fundamentally rethink some of the basic operating premises of the institution. we are keenly aware of how important continued strong federal funding will be to not only deal with those acute problems but to allow us to continue to push forward in terms of digitize a show and collection care initiative expansive education programs and the like. we continue to develop a number of different strategies developed -- strategies
depending on developing the funding. we spent quite a bit of time and effort to ensure our ability to raise nonfederal funds and private funds through philanthropy and sponsored project support and other means are as advanced and effective as possible. >> a little pet peeve of mine sequestration, i wasn't here when they voted on this. you sequester a jury. it doesn't mean across-the-board cuts. i don't know why they use that term. we are all very excited, all of us, about the opening of the national african american museum next year. either any special events planned around it that the public should be aware of? >> we are in the midst of opening for the grand museum next fall.
we intend to do some preliminary kinds of events leading up to that. the museum itself is not waiting for the museum to be finished. we opened a new exhibit in american history showing a collection called through the african-american lens. i would encourage everyone who doesn't have the upper -- who has the opportunity to go and see it. not just generating excitement from the seemingly day-to-day changes that take place in construction. we are trying to do programming and the like to get people as excited and ready. >> thank you for your service. i will have to say last night
everyone got to go to the congressional night at the national portrait gallery. it was an incredible location. there is always concern on the upkeep of buildings in making sure we don't defer pay -- don't you for maintenance. we have them you meet -- we have a museum that will be here next year. as we go forward and build new museums, we have the ability to maintain them and to the upkeep. as far as families and air and space museum, that it is one everyone likes to go to.
from my congressional district the key brothers airplane. they set the record for the longest time in the year, 27 days back in 1935. you can safely transfer the fuel, which even today -- 27 days with the catwalk, because they had to climb out during flight. during construction we are confident that will be fully displayed. every exhibit has a great story. we are very thankful for that. how do you foresee going forward?
you're planning on keeping this open. how many years will that air and space renovation take place? >> we are in the midst of very detailed design and planning. our best estimate it will take 4.5 years of renovation time and try to do it in phases through the building. it is copied kid because the building systems are integrated. that is part of the challenge you are trying to study at this point. it is very important for us to try as much as possible to keep portions of that building so where visitors can continue to benefit. >> is there a plan for when we make sure you don't wind up with a egg -- maybe you see doing the
so long in stages and we wind up in $500 million for one time. >> there were a couple of examples where we have been doing that over the last several years. the natural history museum, everyone knows the dinosaur hall is currently closed. as well as to some needed maintenance on the artifact. we have taken the same approach in american history. back in 2008 we reopened the center court of the building. now the star-spangled banner hall. we are working on the west side of the building and are very ask -- very excited about reopening first-floor that renovated space in july. we have taken the same approach to the national zoo.
we are -- taking on an entire building would be astronomical in terms of cost. in some cases like at the air and space museum, because of the way the building was built, it is just not as practical to be able to close portions of it and work on it in various points on time. one of our biggest challenges is making sure that we continue to a dress the most pressing needs and try to use the combination of maintenance as well as facilities capital funding and keep our building. >> my time is almost over. not everything we probably want to keep.
when you are deciding new items to go into the collection, if you could quickly -- is very basic criteria you have? >> we look at the importance of that object to the collection and the particular discipline. we ensure we can safely and effectively can keep it. we also make sure we have the expertise to study at. >> mr. davis. >> thank you chairman miller. i wish you well on your next endeavor going to work for the smithsonian. don't cut my mic. i want to say thank you.
my twin boys going into the ninth grade were part of a large high school group. some of the feedback was -- obviously besides hanging out with me -- going to the smithsonian was one of their favorite activities. we see many folks and families go through it every day here. hopefully you understand we truly appreciate what you do and what the many men and women who work at your facilities do on a regular basis to show what our nation is all about. thank you for that. the smithsonian works with school districts around the nation. especially k-12 education. can you go further in what you do with the smithsonian to ensure that our students who may
not be able to make it out here to washington dc or other facilities in the nation, how do they have access to your facilities, and how do your stem programs work. how do teachers know how to contact you to get involved? >> we have traditional educational resources. attached to the specific museums and research centers, some that are coordinated. one of our big initiatives across the board in education is to take what we have and get it to folks regardless of where we are geographically around the country. the smithsonian scientist education center for 30 years has been putting up a curriculum that is tied to state standards that teachers and school districts can implement and use to teach science to kids k-12?
it is hands-on learning and supplemented by a number of lesson plans and activities that can be downloaded. all of that material was provided for free. we have a large smithsonian traveling station service, which takes content throughout the country. at many museums large and small across the country you can benefit from the same kind of content that you see in washington dc at your local museum throughout the country. more and more we are trying to put a lot of our material online, so even if you are not using some of the more formal materials that we provide a teacher can download information, can use a variety of support material that we provide to integrate into their classrooms. we view education essential to your mission.
and as a way of enlivening these objects and using them in a way that helps inspire kids to learn. >> i appreciate what you do to make that happen. many students don't get to experience what we see on a daily basis. >> i think you are doing it. the more we can engage people in our facilities and our programs and understand the richness and breadth of what we do, together we can learn places where perhaps we aren't filling a gap. we can have a significant impact on improving the delivery of stem education throughout the country in telling history and
teaching history. >> one last question, do you have an idea in giving me an estimate percentage how any school district you're putting it into nationwide? >> i can get you specific numbers as part of the vital testimony. we make them available to anyone who wants them and we actively engage with folks across the country. >> i'm going to yield back so our star pitcher can have some time to ask questions. >> thank you very much. >> i have been fascinated by the smithsonian over the years.
i believe you have been there for five years. i have a couple of questions i want to get to. something i want a little bit more information on, we talked about the african-american museum that is opening. what is the open date? >> falls 2016. >> exhibits and history there we will we remove those -- i was thinking of george washington carver and what an amazing man he was. will we remove that from one smithsonian to put it -- or will we duplicated? can you talk about that process go i don't want one missing -- about the process? >> on a pretty frequent basis we move collections around our various museums.
the american art museum tells the story of america through art as opposed to specific historic artifacts. there will be times when certain objects move back and forth depending on the nature of the exhibition or the particular story we are trying to build. things will move around on a routine basis. >> we -- my concern is we make sure that they are getting a great history. a lot of technological advances in the last few years. can you discuss strategy as far as connecting the smithsonian and continue to make it attractive to the younger generation. we have seen sometimes in the corporate world where we don't
make the adaptations to connect to the next generation. how do we move forward with that? albert: is a big thrust for us, ensuring have an is -- we have an institution that appeals to people like me and my son. one example of what we have been able to do is the renovated and reopened museum in new york. we closed that museum for three years, fully renovated it, and reopened it in december. there is a new object called the pen. it downloads that object. to curate your collection when you get home or learn more about
it because you had a limited time at the museum. we are looking at the african-american history and culture museum as well to interactive -- to integrate tons of tons of interactive material. we are taking that very seriously. >> do you find that as a difficult balance? you don't want to dumb down some of the exhibits and historical aspects of it. i guess that is part of the process in terms of trying to find the right balance. >> with your looking for our opportunities to really amplify the objects. it is very cool. you take your phone, you look at a particular skeleton. on your phone that skeleton comes to life.
you can see with certain skeletons look like when it is on the ground with some virtual-reality movement. we think that technology can enhance the experience by giving you a much richer opportunity to dig in and learn more about it. >> thank you very much. talking about skeletons, let me ask you a question about the natural history the dinosaur, the trx exhibit. it's too bad you had to close the entire dinosaur exhibit down. what is it going to be open again? albert: 2019. >> you can't open any part of it without opening all of its? albert: the renovation is pretty extend that pretty extensive.
the exhibits themselves, the skeletons and the like, are undergoing fairly sensitive restoration as well. that is pretty painstaking work. what we are trying to do is satisfy that hitch a lot of people have. that is one of the most popular exhibitions we have. >> we have had an opportunity to talk about the possibility. i suppose you are going through the process of doing something over in london. perhaps you can tell us something about that so we have it on the record you are looking in the process. whether or not you think that is something that is a good idea. we have some deferred maintenance. should we be doing that.
>> we are presented with lots and lots of opportunities on a regular basis to do interesting things. this opportunity was presented to us by the mayor of london about a year or so ago. his vision in the redevelopment of the facility that house to 12 summer games includes the creation of a cultural and educational quarter that would be populated with a number of cultural educational institutions and his desire was to have the smithsonian be part of that. an interesting idea. certainly interesting to think about. early on we considered it and went back to them with a certain set of criteria. we wouldn't need a significant
amount of support in order to do this. secondly we would not ask for congress for any additional funding to support this. it would have to be supported by private funding. and we would have to be sure that within the mission of the smithsonian. i think we were able to satisfy ourselves on the mission century video of it. we are a global entity. a lot of focus is on scientific research. this would be the opportunity to tell the story of america abroad. it has a tremendous amount of appeal in that way. we indicated we would need to have space provided to us. we could not raise funding for that. the mayor and his team have identified a significant amount of private support that would enable that to happen.
the final piece of the assessment is really looking at the financial model we would need to implement and whether it would be able to sustain us for a long period of time. we are excited about the prospect, we haven't made a final decision. and as you have imagined we have been in close contact to ensure that it is part of the overall process and he is with the progress. >> thank you very much for that. i thought it was a very interesting idea. without objection i would say all members have five legislative days. those answers might be made part of the record. we certainly appreciate your attendance here today and appreciate your service and your continuing service.
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professional man, every workingman, every housewife, i urge every american to join in this effort to bring justice and hope to all our people and to bring peace to our land. >> we had the president's civil rights bill enacted into law. a year ago we had a program with some of the same people here today. we are here to take a look back at this one year of the civil rights act from 1964 and to look ahead at what may come in other areas for all americans. >> voting in a democracy is most important.
we read 90% of this country's voting. we know governor collins mentioned soma. -- mentioned soma. less than half the economy had -- in mississippi this percentage went up to 76 out of 82 counties. this new voting bill that is just going into effect will remedy the long hard-core established deprivation. i look for great progress on the local level toward correcting some of these problems and now we must engage national organizations or the federal government. i look for problems with sheriffs and judges and local
elected officials to decline. >> on the steps of the lincoln memorial in 1963, when you said many congressmen sat in front of you, that we want to get the civil rights act passed because we are going to help free some of our congressmen. they wanted to vote right but politically it would be suicidal to vote their conviction. speaking in the lecture here recently, they asked what will happen to many southern congressman when the negro gets his right to vote? i expect some of these congressmen to become the greatest liberals in the united states senate. some of them will retire.
the voting side -- this is really the heart and guts of a democracy. >> history bookshelf features popular american history writers and airs on american history tv every weekend at this time. the next editor erik moeller describes the photographs of one of many japanese-americans living on the west coast sent to internment camps following the attack on pearl harbor. they were held at the heart mountain relocation center in wyoming, where he photographed everyday life at the camp. this is about 45 minutes. >> i want you to take a