The Coalition Column

News Briefs, September 2011

Lee White, September 2011

Bill Introduced in the House to Abolish the NHPRC

Legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives to eliminate the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the grant-making arm of the National Archives. H.R. 2531, the “Stop Wasting Archive Grants Act of 2011,” was introduced by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

Chaffetz introduced a bill during the previous session of Congress to restrict the grant-making authority of the NHPRC. During an oversight hearing on the NHPRC in June 2010, Chaffetz attempted to discredit the witnesses from the historical and archival communities, and made numerous unsubstantiated claims about grants he alleged had received NHPRC funding in the past. He maintained that the NHPRC duplicates existing programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Last year, legislation to reauthorize the NHPRC at a $20 million level from fiscal 2011 to fiscal 2015, died in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

On June 23, 2011, the House Appropriations Committee cleared a bill (H.R. 2434, H. Rept. 112-136) providing only $1 million for the NHPRC in fiscal year (FY) 2012. That figure constitutes a 90 percent reduction from the fiscal 2011 funding level of $7 million and is $4 million less than the Obama administration's request for the NHPRC. The House is not expected to take up H.R. 2434 until after the upcoming August recess.

Representative Chaffetz would likely be prohibited from offering his bill as an amendment when the Financial Services and General Government FS & GG) FY '12 appropriations bill comes to the House floor. Any Member can raise a point of order questioning whether an amendment is considered “legislating on an appropriations bill” which is prohibited under House rules. Repealing an existing law falls under that restriction. However, nothing would prohibit Chaffetz from offering an amendment to strip the $1 million in proposed FY '12 funding for the NHPRC.

Brent Glass Retires as Director of Smithsonian's American History Museum

Brent Glass relinquished his position as director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History effective July 10. He will continue at the Smithsonian as a senior adviser through the end of this year.
Glass has served as director of the museum since 2002 and overseen the most extensive renovation of the museum in its history, the conservation of the Star-Spangled Banner and the installation of major new exhibitions on transportation, maritime history, military history and first ladies' gowns.

The Museum of American History is the third-busiest museum in the Smithsonian complex with more than 4 million visitors in 2010. It has a staff of 250, an annual federal budget of about $30 million and about 3 million artifacts. During Glass's tenure, the museum has raised more than $60 million from individuals, foundations and corporations

During Glass's tenure at the museum the building underwent an $85 million renovation that took nearly 2½ years. When it reopened in November 2008, it included an entirely new core with a dramatic skylight and glass staircase opening up the atrium and a new exhibition of the Star-Spangled Banner. Glass considers the renovation of the core of the building, completed in 2008, to be the highlight of his nine years at the Smithsonian.

Marc Pachter, former director of the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, was appointed acting director of the National Museum of American History, effective Aug. 15, 2011.

Jim Gardner Named to Senior Post at National Archives

Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero recently announced the appointment of James Gardner as the Executive for Legislative Archives, Presidential Libraries, and Museum Services effective August 15, 2011; and Donna Garland as the National Archives Chief Strategy and Communications Officer effective September 26, 2011.

As the Executive for Legislative Archives, Presidential Libraries, and Museum Services, Gardner will provide executive direction, guidance, strategic coordination, and evaluation of NARA's national education and exhibits programs, the Center for Legislative Archives and the Presidential Libraries system.

In his most recent position, Dr. Gardner spent more than 12 years working at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History (NMAH). Since 2009, he has served as the Senior Scholar, overseeing collections and research planning and working on pan-Smithsonian initiatives. He previously served as Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs at NMAH, with responsibility for the Museum's collecting, research, and exhibition development as well as its involvement with Smithsonian Affiliates and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

Prior to his appointment at the museum, Dr. Gardner served as deputy executive director of the American Historical Association. In this capacity, he was responsible for managing budgets, working with committees on long-range planning and policies, overseeing special projects, and representing the association in foundations, advocacy groups, government agencies and other organizations. He also served as Director of Education and Special Programs for the American Association for State and Local History where he had special responsibility for several affinity groups focused on presidential sites and libraries, small museums, and educators and interpreters.

Gardner holds Doctorate and Master's Degrees in History from Vanderbilt University and an undergraduate degree in History from Rhodes College.

Lee White is the executive director of the National Coalition for History. He can be reached at lwhite@historycoalition.org.