Here’s some impressive trivia:

Q – How many Museums are there in the Smithsonian? A – 19, including the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

Q – How many objects in the collections? A – 137,000,000.

Q – How many visitors last year? A – 30,000,000.

Q – How many website visits? A – 188,000,000.

Yes, those are big numbers, and there are also nine research centers, twenty libraries and an HD cable channel and network. The mission of the Smithsonian is The Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge – that’s a broad ambition too. At Cooper-Hewitt we want to participate by telling people about design, explaining how design processes work and how design contributions can improve the quality of life.

Secretary Wayne Clough visits the Freer and Sackler Galleries…

…and the National Postal Museum.

Secretary Wayne Clough was appointed to lead the Smithsonian just over two years ago, coming from fourteen years as president of Georgia Tech. He inherited an institution with a dusty reputation, nicknamed “The National Attic.” He has brought new energy to the whole enterprise, sweeping away the cobwebs and pushing forward into the future. This year he has launched a new strategic plan, articulating these four grand challenges:

Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe

Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet

Valuing World Cultures

Understanding the American Experience

I’m thinking about what these challenges mean for design and how we can meet them, so I’ll post some thoughts about each in the next few days.

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