WASHINGTON – Committee on House Administration Chairman Candice Miller (R-MI) today held a hearing on the current state of the Smithsonian Institution. The Committee heard from Albert Horvath, the Acting Secretary, on the ongoing and future priorities of the Smithsonian, which include the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture next year, efforts to expand their reach in our nation’s schools and learning environments, and plans to meet the on-going challenges for protecting the 138 million items in the collections. Miller said:

“The size and scope of the Smithsonian Institution presents enormous opportunities to achieve their mission of continually increasing the reach of knowledge. Our Committee commends the Smithsonian for their unrelenting efforts to identify ways it can help to revitalize education across our nation, especially by expanding the digital access to items in their collection and utilizing innovations such as 3D-printing to offer new ways to experience these items. I appreciate Acting Secretary Horvath’s frankness in regards to the challenges ahead concerning the physical conditions of some of the museums. The Smithsonian must strike the right balance when it comes to utilizing federal funds responsibly, as well as working with private funding resources. The Committee will be interested in seeing the Smithsonian’s plans to ensure that the physical state of the museums and the collections each houses are properly managed and preserved for future generations. The Smithsonian is so much more than “our Nation’s Attic” – this institution plays an important role in collecting, preserving and making the richness and depth of the American experience accessible to all, and we look forward to its continued service.”

Chairman Miller examines some of the items from the Smithsonian’s collection

The items from the Smithsonian included:
Recently-found photo of Harriet Tubman (1820–1913), from the National Portrait Gallery
Harriet Tubman led scores of slaves to freedom after her own escape from bondage in 1849. She provided nursing care to Union army soldiers and former slaves during the Civil War, and also conducted daring reconnaissance missions in Confederate-held territory while serving as a trusted army scout and spy. (H. Seymour Squyer (1848–1905) - Printing-out paper print, c. 1885)

Liotta-Cooley Artificial Heart, from the National Museum of American History
The first completely artificial heart implanted in a human, this pneumatic pump was developed by Domingo Liotta and implanted by surgeon Denton Cooley on April 4, 1969, at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston. The recipient, Haskell Karp, lived for sixty-four hours with the artificial heart until a human heart was available for transplant. Although Karp died soon after receiving a real heart, the procedure demonstrated the viability of artificial hearts as a bridge to transplant in cardiac patients.

Meteorites, from the National Museum of Natural History
1. Lorton Virginia Meteorite fell, not surprisingly, in Lorton, Virginia, on Monday, January 18, 2010, into a doctor’s office.
2. Piece of the Chelyabinsk, Russia, meteorite that fell February 15th, 2013 and caused a large amount of damage in the town of Chelyabinsk.

Chuck Brown’s Guitar, from the Anacostia Community Museum
Chuck Brown (1936-2012) had a great impact upon the development of Go-Go music, a percussive musical style emanating from Southeast Washington, D.C. and Prince Georges County, Maryland. Known as the “Godfather of Go-go,” Brown‘s most popular songs, including “Run Joe” and “Bustin’ Loose,” brought Go-Go to an international audience.

Materials from the Hindenburg, housed at the National Postal Museum
1. Postcard from Hindenburg
Postcard from Hindenburg’s flight over the opening ceremonies of the 1936 Olympics in Germany, where Jesse Owens won four gold medals. The postcard has an Olympic postmark and a black and white picture of the Berlin Olympic stadium.
2. Piece of Fabric from Hindenburg
A sheet of stationery with letterhead of F.W. von Meister. A piece of fabric is stapled to the paper. A note on the stationary attests that this is a salvaged portion of the Hindenburg.