Smithsonian: A Museum Acting Strangely

After two Smithsonian Institution board members questioned the appropriateness of accepting oil industry funding for its "Ocean Initiative," the American Petroleum Institute (API) withdrew its $5 million funding offer. "Circumstances within the Smithsonian have changed, to say the least," said an API spokesperson. It's not the museum's only contentious exhibit. A 2006 exhibit on the Arctic was changed to add "the idea of scientific uncertainly about climate research," reports the Washington Post. "You know that I am not an alarmist," one NASA scientist who objected to the changes wrote, "but I will say that a museum can't do an honest exhibit about what is happening in the Arctic without causing people some serious concern." Exhibit plans were reviewed by Bush administration political appointees. The exhibit's title was changed from "Arctic Meltdown" to "The Arctic: A Friend Acting Strangely." Its sequence was changed, so that "the more dramatic temperature changes in the past 50 years" were "moved farther back." And its script was changed, deleting sentences like: "If you want to see what the rest of the planet is going to see in the next generation, watch out for the Arctic in the next five to 10 years."