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Smithsonian Summer crowds

By Jackie Trescott

Was it the air-conditioning? Or had that many people never seen the Wright Flyer? When the Smithsonian Board of Regents meets Monday, the governing obard will receive some impressive news about the summer attendance. No one who was rubbing shoulder to shoulder with the visitors will be surprised, but now it's official: this was one of the busiests summers ever on the Mall.

Overall, 7 million people crammed into the "Big Three" -- the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of Natural History and the National Air and Space Museum in June, July and August. In 2009 in the same months, the visitors numbered 6.8 million. It's been hot a long time.

At Air and Space 3 million viisted in the 3-month span, compared to 2.7 million in 2009. Natural History placed second with 2.4 million in summer 2010, a light drop from 2.6 million in 2009. American History's numbers are holding steady, with 1.6 million in 2010 and 1.5 million in 2009.


A limited edition blue topaz heart-shaped sterling ring by renowned designer Judith Ripka. (Courtesy: Smithsonian)

The Regents, who hopefully have much more serious issues to consider, will have at least one minute to gloat when they hear the results of the Smithsonian Jewelry Sale on QVC. When the Smithsonian announced it was allowing reproductions of its Gem Collection to be sold over the television retailer, a lot of people howled and called the move a diminishing of the Smithsonian name.

Well, who's laughing now. The jewelry line almost sold out in 2 hours. Quick buyers took 17 out of 22 items, including a special blue topaz ring designed by jewelry favorite Judith Ripka. The prices ranged from $854 but QVC declined to provide a tally.

Besides their business meeting, the regents are holding a public session Monday, from 2:30 p.m.to 3:45 p.m. in the theater of the National Museum of the American Indian.

By Jacqueline Trescott  | September 20, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Jacqueline Trescott, Museums, Smithsonian  
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