Might be a reasonable question to have when you first see this post on Capital Weather, but as it turns out the more appropriate question might be “what does the Smithsonian do with weather?” The answer is, apparently, not much.
The information presented in the exhibit stands in direct contrast not only to current climate science but also to other information that the museum has published.
One of the panels of text in the ice ages exhibit is entitled “The Future” and states, “the minor global cooling trend of recent decades, with its attendant shifts in wind and rainfall patterns, is being carefully watched and studied. Already the effects on food production are severe in many parts of the world…”
Global cooling is typically something that climate change contrarians talk about, not the Smithsonian.
As it turns out, the culprit here is not the Smithsonian deliberately engaging in falsehoods, but rather simply failing to notice the old exhibit. Andrew quotes Smithsonian employee Bill Fitzhugh as saying they simply forgot the exhibits were there and contained that information.
It’s an interesting dilemma for the Smithsonian divisions that do more than simply display prior art, and presumably goes beyond just the science-minded stuff. What about text attached to, say, a painter’s biography if new information comes to light about their work or life? I hope this publicity goads the Smithsonian to add some ongoing oversight to their exhibits. Perhaps a project similar to the LoC’s Flickr project could put all the exhibit text in a format that people could view other than when they happen to be in front of it, improving the odds of finding antiquated info.
This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs