The Smithsonian Institution, an American creation of free culture for the people, is looking at opening a London outpost.
On Monday, the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents authorized Acting Secretary Al Horvath to work on an agreement with the London Legacy Development Corp. (LLDC) that would establish a Smithsonian presence in the city’s new cultural center, “Olympicopolis,” at the site of Olympic Park. The Summer Olympics were held in London in 2012.
According to a Smithsonian release, “If an agreement is reached, it will mark the first time in the Smithsonian’s 168-year history that the Institution has ventured beyond U.S. borders for a long-term exhibition venue. The 40,000-square-foot gallery is expected to open in 2021 and will feature permanent and rotating exhibits, programs and activities.”
The mayor of London Boris Johnson and the development agency have secured an initial $50 million to build the facility for the Smithsonian exhibits. Smithsonian officials say that admission will be free for the London-based permanent exhibition, just as it is in the U.S.
According to the release, “the exhibition space will not be supported with federal funds. The Smithsonian’s annual operating costs will be covered by private philanthropy and revenue from temporary-exhibit admission fees and retail activities.”