Smithsonian Perspectives

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  • This editorial page was written by I. Michael Heyman just prior to his installation as Smithsonian Secretary in September 1994. He comments on the responsibilities which lie before him to direct the Institution in its three-pronged mission to present exhibitions which educate the public, conduct research, and provide collection maintenance. Heyman singles out the Thomas Cole exhibition at the National Museum of American Art as one which exemplifies the fine curatorial work done by the Institution; he also comments at length on the controversy wrought by the Enola Gay exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum.
  • As Federal funds for the Smithsonian were threatened and its public education role was being hindered, Heyman views that controversy as involving two fundamental principles of the Smithsonian: freedom from detailed political direction or pressure and fulfillment of its educational responsibilities. He stresses that controversies such as the Enola Gay should be handled by providing information on all facets of the debate and then allow the public to reach their own conclusions.


  • Heyman, Ira Michael 5/30/1930-11/19/2011
  • National Collection of Fine Arts
  • National Museum of American Art (U.S.)
  • National Air and Space Museum
  • Enola Gay (Bomber)


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography

Contained within

Smithsonian Vol. 25, No. 7 (Journal)

Contact information

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


October 1994


  • Education
  • Controversies
  • Secretaries
  • Exhibitions
  • Museums
  • Federal Government, Relations with SI
  • Museums--Educational aspects

Physical description

Perspectives section, p. 9

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