Departing Smithsonian head says museums more vital

WASHINGTON (AP) — Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough has spent six years working to modernize the digital outreach and fundraising capacity of the world’s largest museum complex.

Now as the Smithsonian pursues the most ambitious fundraising campaign in its history, Clough is stepping down at year’s end. He will retire and move back to Atlanta where he previously served as Georgia Tech’s president.

In an interview Monday, Clough said the Smithsonian lifted its game intellectually, became a more vital place with online outreach and doubled its donor base to raise $1 billion since he arrived.

David Skorton, the outgoing president of Cornell University, will become the next Smithsonian leader in 2015. Clough says his successor’s biggest challenge will be increasing the Smithsonian’s private financial support even more amid flat funding from the federal government.