- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. didn’t have to worry Monday about stumbling over an oath of office for the new Smithsonian chief Monday - all he had to do this time was hand over a key.

Chief Justice Roberts got the words a little mixed up during President Obama’s oath of office last week, so he was perhaps relieved that tradition called for something simpler to formally install Wayne Clough as the 12th secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

“I don’t know who was responsible for that decision, but I like ‘em,” Chief Justice Roberts said, drawing laughs from a crowd of curators, researchers and staff.

Mr. Clough called on the world’s largest museum complex to prepare for changes as a result of the nation’s economic crisis. He also said American education and research has fallen behind.

“These forces are causing a sea change in our world and call for us to chart a bold path if we are to meet the challenges ahead,” he said. “Long-established institutions are disappearing because they could not adapt at this crucial time in our nation’s history.”

The former Georgia Tech president said the Smithsonian should focus on tackling issues of education, climate change and biodiversity, and American identity and diversity. And he wants curators to help open access to the Smithsonian’s 137 million-object collection.

“Our job is to authenticate and inform the significance of the collections,” he said, “not to control access to them.”

Mr. Clough has been on the job for six months and is creating a new strategic plan for the Smithsonian, which includes 19 museums and the National Zoo.

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