WASHINGTON - Today, the Committee on House Administration held a full committee hearing titled, "Looking Ahead Series: Oversight of the Smithsonian Institution." It has been three years since the Committee has held a wide-ranging oversight hearing of the Smithsonian.

Lonnie G. Bunch III - Secretary of the Smithsonian

In case you missed it, here are the top takeaways:

1. The Smithsonian must reject foreign influence.

Chairman Bryan Steil (WI-01): "I had my nieces and nephews out to DC recently, they got to see the pandas before they departed. I can tell you that our kids love the pandas but as we dive in and we think about what's called 'panda diplomacy' if you will, there's a policy side to this as well. I understand that the National Zoo paid China $10 million to loan the giant pandas for 10 years, is that accurate?"

Bunch: "That's correct."

Steil: "Then that loan was extended throughout that time beginning from 2000 all the way through until this year?"

Bunch: "We negotiate every year yes to extend the loan. We would like to have the pandas back and we would like to negotiate with the Chinese to do just that."

Steil: "At any time has the Smithsonian ever changed or compromised any public content to appease or accommodate China or any other foreign government?"

Bunch: "Definitely not."

2. The Smithsonian must be careful to remain nonpartisan.

Representative Greg Murphy (NC-03):
 "Partisan politics is now trying to divide us. And I'm gonna go through this and this is just baffling to me. This is in the 'Smithsonian Assumptions' about white culture, and it says: rugged individualism, family structure, emphasis on scientific method, history, Protestant work ethic, religion, no tolerance from deviation from a single God concept. This is absolute anti-racial propaganda. Why would anything like this be in the Smithsonian Institute?"

Bunch: "What it is is there was a document that is the whiteness document that was put up online that I took down immediately because I think the document itself was wrong and flawed. I do think, however, it's important for the Smithsonian to help the country grapple with questions of race, so I'm not going to run away from that. But I agree with you very much that that document is not the kind of document that should be at the Smithsonian."

Rep. Murphy: "How does this help us with race?"

Bunch: "It doesn't."

3. The Smithsonian should not be involved in the Left's indoctrination of our children.

Representative Stephanie Bice (OK-05):
 "Do you know the number of drag shows that the Smithsonian has hosted in the last three years?"

Bunch: "No, I don't."

Rep. Bice:  "Six. And four of those were targeted at children. Going back to June 27th of 2020, an online event at the American Art Museum, listed under the kids and families categories. How does hosting drag shows for children help the Smithsonian achieve their mission of catalyzing public engagement in sparking curiosity of learning, by connecting the knowledge, resources and expertise at the Smithsonian with vital network of cultural and educational organizations? In what culture is exposing children to overly sexual material appropriate?"

Bunch: "It's not appropriate to expose children to drag shows. I'm surprised, and I will look into that."


During the hearing, the Smithsonian brought several artifacts. At the end of the hearing, Secretary Bunch shared these artifacts with the Members and audience. The artifacts included a Wisconsin Cheesehead hat from 1990.

Additional artifacts:

  • Set of 'jailed for freedom' jewelry mounted together
  • Mary Lincoln’s mourning watch
  • WWI trench art: brass and copper edged book
  • 'Steel Pot' M1 U.S. Army Helmet with 65th Infantry 'Borinqueneers' insignia