Smithsonian forms educational partnership with FIU
By Jennifer Miller
Florida International University has become the first school in the continental US to form a partnership with the Washington, DC-based Smithsonian Institution, a move officials say will spawn prestigious exhibits and boost the school's name internationally.
The arrangement means FIU, which has a history of presenting Smithsonian exhibits in its Wolfsonian Museum, will gain access to artifacts from the institution's 16 museums, including resources from its national zoo.
"Not only are we talking about sharing art collections," said Margaret Pulles, deputy director of Smithsonian Institution affiliations, "but we are also exploring the possibility of collaboration in the sciences as well."
She said discussions to take place today and Friday in Miami between officials representing the Smithsonian and FIU could lead to creation of the first museum-studies degree program.
Ms. Pulles said she and other Smithsonian officials would be arriving today (1/11) to talk about the program and to officially re-sign an agreement between university President Modesto A. Maidique and Smithsonian Institution Secretary Lawrence Small.
"We're very interested in these discussions and exploring the possibilities," she said.
FIU is one of more than 60 organizations affiliated with the Smithsonian but only the second institution for higher learning sporting such an alliance, Ms. Pulles said. She said Turabo University Puerto Rico is also a Smithsonian affiliate.
The Smithsonian, she said, started an affiliation division in 1997. When the program began, art museum officials recommended FIU as a formal affiliate, Ms. Pulles said.
The alliance, she said, comes about as the Smithsonian actively seeks partnerships that will benefit museums as well as the 175-year-old institution itself.