A proponent of good music is made head of the Smithsonian

A proponent of good music is made head of the Smithsonian


norman lebrecht

March 11, 2014

You may remember David Skorton, the flute-playing president of Cornell University, who recently declared:

It is through the study of art, music, literature, history and other humanities and social sciences that we gain a greater understanding of the human condition than biological or physical science alone can provide.

He has now been appointed secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, responsible for 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoological Park.



  • Marcus Overton says:

    The correct name of the organization is always the Smithsonian Institution, not institute.

    It is encouraging to hear that someone who has an understanding that the arts and humanities are inextricably linked to anthropology, archaeology and sociology has been chosen to lead the Institution. I managed the performing arts program at the Institution for nearly 10 years, and the struggle to raise their standing was never-ending. And believe me, Professor Skorton will have his hands full with any effort to do so. The decentralization of the Institution’s administration in the mid-80s resulted in pitched battles (oh so subtly waged) among the museum, program and agency directors for access to and control of what little money could be had for programs related to humanities (public programs such as lectures, seminars, classes, performances, etc.) and those rivalries still exist. Here’s hoping he is strong enough to win even a few battles against entrenched interests and stifling bureaucracy.

  • M.A. Steinberger says:

    It is a national shame that our greatest public treasure is having to fight for crumbs of funding. As an admirer of Prof. Skorton , I wish him all success.