By John Loughridge, USA TODAY “I’ve never been much of a fan of pete, but I’m a big fan of this.”
Pete Buttigo is the director of the Smithsonian National Museum for the Humanities and Social Sciences and a visiting scholar at Princeton University.
She is also the founder of the Center for Cultural Research, an international research institute based in Cambridge, Mass., that has been helping to preserve and protect human culture from degradation and decline.
As the director, Buttigigieg is tasked with overseeing a $5 billion budget, which she says is one of the most ambitious in history.
The Smithsonian will be home to some of the largest collections of art and history in the world.
Among its holdings, there are hundreds of paintings, drawings and sculptures from the 19th century, which is not to say they are perfect, but Buttigiggieg says she’s confident they’ll provide the best opportunities for students and visitors to explore the cultural heritage.
“It’s going to be a real gem, and we’re going to take advantage of all of it,” Buttigigo says.
The museum is a mix of public and private, with about 50% of the museum dedicated to museums and a much smaller percentage devoted to special collections.
“What we do is try to provide a place for people to come in and see the best in the best,” Buttigeigieg says.
“But we’re not going to tell you where it is.
We’re not asking you to go to the National Gallery or the Tate or to the Louvre.
We are just trying to find the best that’s out there.”
The museum’s main exhibition, The American West, is a major component of the National Museum, which will be open for five weeks during the summer.
It will feature over 300 works of art, including a portrait of American Civil War hero Gen. Robert E. Lee, which the U.S. government removed in April from the museum’s grounds because of threats to the site.
Buttigigeieg says the museum has made a commitment to the conservation of historic artifacts and cultural assets.
“We’ve made sure that we’ve been very clear, as far as where we are going to put them, how we’re getting them back, and how we are taking care of them,” she says.
In addition to the museum, the museum also includes the American Museum of the American West in Fort Worth, Texas.
“The American West is a big part of what we’re trying to do,” Buttigaigieg said.
“Our goal is to get it out there for the public to experience and be excited about.”
It’s the fourth and final week of the exhibition and the museum will reopen to the public at the end of July.
For now, Buttigaigeigige says the staff will be focused on preparing for the opening of the new exhibition.
“This is our first exhibition in 50 years and we really wanted to give the people something that they could really feel good about,” she said.
For more on the Smithsonian, go to washingtonpost.com/world.