Smithsonian Institution: General Hearings before the Subcommittee on Library and Memorials

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  • In 1970, the Subcommittee on Library and Memorials of the Committee on House Administration of the United States Congress held a series of hearing on the management of the Smithsonian. Known informally as the Thompson Committee Hearings, after chair Frank Thompson, Jr., the subcommittee took the first comprehensive look at the Smithsonian Institution since its founding in 1846. The hearings addressed the current management of the Smithsonian by Secretary S. Dillon Ripley, controversies surrounding the establishment of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden as part of the Smithsonian, and the lack of progress in building a National Air and Space Museum. Senator Barry Goldwater played a major role in reviewing progress on NASM.
  • In this comprehensive review, the subcommittee looked at virtually all aspects of the Smithsonian, including its finances, management practices, and specific programs in the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum, Foreign Currency Program, Freer Gallery of Art, National Collection of Fine Arts (later the National Museum of American Art), National Museum of History and Technology (later the National Museum of American History), National Museum of Natural History, National Portrait Gallery, Office of Academic Programs, Office of Environmental Sciences, Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, Division of Performing Arts, Radiation Biology Laboratory, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.


  • Ripley, Sidney Dillon 1913-2001
  • Goldwater, Barry M (Barry Morris) 1909-
  • Thompson, Frank Jr
  • Office of Development
  • Division of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • United States Congress House
  • Smithsonian Institution Division of Performing Arts
  • Foreign Currency Program (FCP)
  • Office of Academic Programs
  • United States Congress
  • Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)
  • Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC)
  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
  • National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)
  • National Portrait Gallery (U.S.)
  • National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.)
  • National Museum of American History (U.S.) (NMAH)
  • National Museum of American Art (U.S.)
  • National Collection of Fine Arts
  • National Air and Space Museum
  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
  • Freer Gallery of Art
  • Anacostia Neighborhood Museum
  • Anacostia Community Museum
  • Office of Environmental Sciences
  • Office of Membership and Development
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


  • Two Volumes. Hearings held in Washington, D.C., July, 1970. Ninety-First Congress, Second Session.
  • The full text of the hearings can be found at:

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Museum finance
  • Art
  • Education
  • Law and legislation
  • Congressional Hearings
  • Radiation Biology Laboratory
  • Collectors and collecting
  • Museums
  • Gifts
  • Thompson Committee
  • Management
  • Museums--Educational aspects
  • Museums--Law and legislation
  • Museum directors
  • Management--Museums
  • Art--Collectors and collecting

Full Record

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