“Smithsonian Launches Partnership With Kickstarter – inaugural project will support conservation of Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit”

Mark Avino, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

From a press release:

“The Smithsonian is embarking on a multi-project partnership with Kickstarter, the funding platform for creative projects. The inaugural project will support conservation of Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit at the National Air and Space Museum. The funds also will be used to digitize and exhibit the 46-year-old suit.

The campaign start[ed] July 20, the anniversary of the first walk on the moon in 1969.

Kickstarter has enabled more than 88,000 projects to be funded since it began in 2009. Through the Smithsonian’s partnership, a series of crowdfunded projects will launch on Kickstarter throughout the next year. During this pilot year, the focus will be on artifacts, exhibitions and projects that need funding, giving the public a variety of opportunities to support the Smithsonian based on their own interests. Kickstarter adheres to an all-or-nothing method. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers’ credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged.”

Ed. Note: As of 2:30pm on Monday they had already raised $54,571!!

13 Comment

  • Congress won’t authorize Smithsonian funding for this? This country’s gone to literal hell

  • I think it is awesome that so many people are interesting in preserving our history. That said, do we really need to rely on crowd sourcing for this? No gov’t funds to pay for this? No private sector corporation willing to support this (you would think that an aeronautic co. or defense contractor would have the $).

  • The media doesn’t report enough of the little consequences of sequestration cuts, so let’s start with the under-funding of Smithsonian programs.

  • It saddens me every few years when a story like this comes out and I am forced to acknoledge how ridiculous we are as a nation towards things like the (worlds largest museum and research organization). While their are individually museums around the world that are better (history), or (art) museums, collectively, we have the finest national museum in the world.

    And yet, Congress can only manage to give 800 million a year to fund it (or 60% of its total costs) and forces the organization to rely on unpredictable yearly donations and endowments to fund the rest.

    800 million? It is completely embarrass considering the stature of the organization, and the fact that it is a decimal place rounding error in our national budget.

    • If our govt cant provide enough support to Smithsonian, then the Smithsonian should start charging patrons. Most of the museums in the world charge some nominal fee. Even the ones in NY have a “recommended/suggested” fee. If you cant afford it, they will still allow you to enter.

      • That is not the solution. These artifacts are property of the American people and should be freely available to everyone, regardless of income. People should not have to pick and choose which museums to visit based on price. This is what makes the Smithsonian unique and a world treasure that everyone can enjoy and be inspired.

      • I’m all for this. A suggested fee would be a great start. Although there are already donation boxes out in the museums.

      • There are donation boxes everywhere. Up to 7 million people each year visit various SI museums. If each person, let’s just say each adult, visiting dropped $1 into those boxes it could drastically change what each institution was able to do in terms of exhibitions, public programming, etc. $1 folks. I wish more people thought about that when they are visiting a “free” institution.

      • While yes, many museums do charge a fee, most national museums do not.

        And the Smithsonian looked at this in 2007 when the Bush administration was basically cutting the the Smithsonian allocation yet again.

        There are a couple problems, the first is price stickiness. Currently, 15 million people a year visit the Smithsonian. The more you charge, the fewer people visit. The whole point of a national cultural institution like the Smithsonian is to be as open and available to as many Americans as possible. I know kids in DC who randomly walk into their favorite museums or zoo once or twice a month for a few minutes here, an hour there which they can do because it is free.

        The second problem is the cost of the infrastructure needed to deal with tickets. If you start charging, every museum has to have a ticket desk with its own staff, ticketing equipment, fare gates etc. To break even on the costs of ticket issuance and collection, the Smithsonian figured it would have to charge $7 bucks just to pay for all that, and that at that price, you would reduce the number of yearly visitors by 11% (more than a million). The break even point back in 2007 to pay for the ticketing infrastructure and to charge enough to make it worth while while losing patrons was $9.50, at which point they would be making about $25 million a year. Still a drop in the bucket with their 1.4 billion dollar budget and hardly worth it to drive away so many patrons from being able to use the worlds finest museum and research institution. Sure, you could charge 20-30 bucks, but at that point you’ve probably shaved off ~40% of patrons and made the Smithsonian something that only people with money can do.

        Even more ridiculous when considering our yearly national budget is now just shy of 4 trillion a year, and we are spending 13 billion per to build a few new aircraft carriers.

      • I think the operative word here is “won’t,” not “can’t.”

    • Many European museums that have been state funded for the entirety of their existence have been forced in the last decade to start fundraising from private donors because government allocations are shrinking. Good or bad, it’s a fact of life in today’s economy.

  • At first, I had the same response (are we really under-funding our museums that badly?!), but on second thought, this is probably a pretty brilliant marketing opportunity. They pick especially exciting aspects of their work to showcase, and then get folks who are online but may not typically be touched by Smithsonian fundraising to get engaged and donate. At two days and nearly 50% to their goal, it certainly seems to be working!

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