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Elizabeth Hand

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I worked at the Smithsonian for a number of years. I had a very low-level job. I didn't have much responsibility, but I did have a Smithsonian ID badge that gave me access to all of the museums on the mall, and also the National Gallery of Art. In those days, you could go anywhere, which you can't do now. You could get in behind the scenes and wander along these tunnels. There is a scene in "Prince of Flowers" where the characters are in the Paleontology Department of the Museum of Natural History where they really do have this Raiders of the Lost Ark-type vast space filled with all of these unopened cartons. ... I was really entranced with the idea of living in a museum. In Winterlong there are two parallel storylines and the one for Raphael takes place among this guild or tribe of curators who live in the ruins of the Smithsonian Institution.

Elizabeth Hand

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I first met Stephen Jay Gould in the sixth grade in Queens, New York, when we were the only two geeks in the school interested in natural history and particularly in dinosaursódecades before the advent of worldwide dinomania. In junior high school, our schoolmates nicknamed me "Dino" and Gould "Fossilface." We spent many afternoons at the American Museum of Natural History, where such curators as Edwin Colbert and Norman Newell fanned the flames of our hobby. We lost touch for twenty-five years, and I was delighted one day to discover Steve's columns in Natural History. At the time, both my life and my career had wandered far away from natural history, and I was working as an editor of what used to be called pulp magazines. I wrote to him, "You have inherited Thomas Huxley's mantle in explaining evolution to a new generation," and I asked if he remembered me. He wrote back, "Blood may be thicker than water, but junior high school friendships are thicker than anything." Steve encouraged me to return to the fold and take up my boyhood interests once again. But where to begin, with no credentials and no umbrella institution? He urged me to pursue the history of science as an independent scholar, to make a pilgrimage to Darwin's home in England, and to buy antiquarian natural history books in the shops around the British Museum. He gave me letters of introduction to top scholars. Eventually he encouraged me to write my Encyclopedia of Evolution, to which he generously contributed a foreword. Soon after it was published, in 1990, I was hired by Natural History, and among my duties is seeing "This View of Life" through to press each month (one does not really edit Stephen Jay Gould). My reconnection with the man, and with the passions and ideas that we both enjoy, has transformed my life immeasurably for the better. Thanks, Fossilface!

Stephen Jay Gould

That ear - I mean, Jesus, he's got to will that to the Smithsonian.

Bob Dylan

There are seductions that should be in the Smithsonian Institute, right next to The Spirit of St. Louis.

Richard Brautigan

In 1987 a Civil Service inquiry decided that the pay of the Director of the Tate Gallery should match that of the Director of the much larger Victoria & Albert Museum and of the National Gallery, where the pictures were regarded as being much more important, because, and here I quote, "the Director of the Tate has to deal with the very difficult problem of modern art".

Nicholas Serota

A great department store, easily reached, open at all hours, is more like a good museum of art than any of the museums we have yet established.

John Cotton Dana
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