Announcing the I. Michael Heyman Smithsonian Across America Affiliations Fund

Secretary I. Michael Heyman rode the carousel at the Los Angeles Convention Center, first stop of the “America’s Smithsonian” national tour celebrating the Smithsonian’s 150th anniversary in 1996.

I. Michael Heyman, 10th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution (1994-1999), passed away November 19, 2011.  In honor of his tenure and accomplishments friends, family, and Smithsonian officials gathered on June 14, 2012 in a special ceremony at the National Museum of American History.  Heyman was widely praised for launching a number of initiatives, Smithsonian Affiliations among them, that extended the reach of the Smithsonian well beyond the National Mall.  Smithsonian Affiliations director Harold A. Closter offered the following words of tribute, and announced the establishment of the I. Michael Heyman Smithsonian Across America Affiliations Fund:

This tribute to Mike Heyman is also the concluding program in our 16th Annual Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference – a legacy of Mike’s about which others have already spoken so eloquently.  Here with us in this auditorium are representatives of the 172 Smithsonian-affiliated museums and educational organizations, our invaluable partners in fulfilling Mike’s vision for a Smithsonian across America.  These museums reflect the breadth and diversity of the American people:  from Plymouth, Massachusetts to Honolulu, Hawaii, from Birmingham, Alabama to Bellingham, Washington, and everywhere in between.

The Saturn V Rocket at the US Space and Rocket Center (Huntsville, AL)

If you were to visit one of these Affiliate museums today, you would see national treasures from all of the Smithsonian museums, including:

  •  The cornet that Louis Armstrong learned to play in an orphanage in New Orleans, now on view at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.
  •  An original fragment from the Star Spangled Banner at the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.
  •  Apollo 13, the space capsule made famous for its nail-biting return from a trip around the moon,  currently on display at the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas.
  • And the largest object in the Smithsonian’s collection – the 363 ft. long working model of the Saturn V rocket that made the Apollo space program possible – viewed with awe by visitors at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

These are just a few of the more than 8,000 Smithsonian objects that have traveled to every corner of this country all for one simple reason:  to make it easier for people to see the heritage of their country in their own communities. 

This was the vision that Mike Heyman so passionately believed in and this is why we are so pleased to announce the establishment of the I. Michael Heyman Smithsonian Across America Affiliations Fund.

A cornet associated with Louis Armstrong at the Musical Instrument Museum (Phoenix, AZ)

Through this fund we will honor the legacy of Secretary Heyman by extending the reach of the Smithsonian even further through the loan of artifacts, traveling exhibits, educational programs, and shared digital experiences. 

There are so many ways we can connect the Smithsonian to the American people:  to stimulate curiosity, to inspire lifelong learning, and to promote a deeper appreciation of our country’s history and the many people who have strived and sacrificed to ensure our freedom and prosperity. 

Mike Heyman saw both sides of the Smithsonian coin.  On one side, about 30 million people visit the Smithsonian each year, a measure in which we take great pride.  But on the other side, nearly 300 million Americans are unable to come to the Smithsonian annually, and some of them might only come once in a lifetime. 

These are also the people that Mike Heyman wanted to reach, the people we will reach through the I. Michael Heyman Smithsonian Across America Affiliations Fund.  And this is how we will perpetuate the memory and the name of the individual who did so much to transform the Smithsonian at a pivotal moment in its history. 

We are grateful for your interest and support, and will look forward to working with all of you to establish this tribute to our dear friend and colleague. 

Those interested in contributing or learning more about this opportunity to honor the life and accomplishments of I. Michael Heyman are invited to contact the Smithsonian at: 

A fragment of the Star Spangled Banner at the Senator John Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh, PA)

I. Michael Heyman Smithsonian Across America Affiliations Fund
c/o Smithsonian Affiliations
MRC 942, PO Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012

Phone:  202.633.5300