Otto Mayr. Technology and Culture. Volume 39, Issue 3. July 1998.
To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM) had planned to open an exhibition centering on the Enola Gay, the bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. During its many years of preparation, the exhibit project became so controversial that the Smithsonian canceled it on 30 January 1995. In June of that year, the NASM opened another version of the exhibit, sharply reduced in size and radically expurgated in content.
With the cancellation of the original Enola Gay exhibit, everyone lost. The NASM and the Smithsonian lost, not only for the obvious reasons of wasted effort and loss of prestige but also because the cancellation broke off, irreversibly so far as can be seen, a promising new direction for the NASM. The opposition forces who brought down the project lost, for history will view them poorly: the resulting literature will see to that. Observers who watched the controversy unfold wasted their energies because they were not permitted to judge the end product for themselves. The public lost, too. It was deprived of the opportunity to discuss an issue of acute concern and left with the nagging memory of an illiberal thing happening before its eyes with virtually no one rising to prevent it. Clearly, the Enola Gay exhibit should have been presented to the public in the mature form forged by its creators during a long and painful gestation period. How good it would have been, we cannot know. I suspect that it would have been a decent exhibit, not without flaws, to be sure, but one that would have performed a useful and honorable role, and that would have offended nobody, not even those who so hysterically opposed it.
All that remains now is the opportunity to learn from the misadventure. As usual in such cases, the cause of the Enola Gay fiasco was a coincidence of several adverse factors. No matter; for the curators, historians, and administrators of the Smithsonian the task was to succeed on behalf of their institution, and they failed. The failure is of interest here because it was a professional failure.
The public has little understanding of what museums can and should do, the people who run them, and the conditions that govern their operation. The efforts of museums are subject to certain basic limitations that lie in their very nature. For the most part, these limitations stem from the obligations of museums to society, their dependence upon financial supporters, and the sources of their intellectual authority.
Museums are not financially self-sufficient; they survive only with the help of large, regular subsidies (often three-quarters or more of their annual budgets), usually from the public. In return the institutions are understood to serve the public. Not only are they committed to perform two specific public services, collecting and education, they are also expected, within their area of specialization, to help with various minor tasks presented by almost anyone. These burdens must be borne; inadequate responses will gradually use up a museum’s credit of public goodwill. With regard to the main task, collecting and education, different museums interpret these mandates differently. Traditionally, the priority was on collecting; more recently, on education. A good museum, however, maintains a balance of both because the two activities stimulate and reinforce each other.
If education, properly understood, is an essential duty of museums, then the chief instrument of education is the exhibit. Exhibits, everyone agrees, should not be boring; they should be-to list some adjectives frequently used in praise-interesting, amusing, entertaining, stimulating, provocative, controversial. In principle, then, there is nothing wrong with a controversial exhibit-quite the contrary Still, it has its limits.
In return for indispensable financial support, museums give up some autonomy. While the details of what and how much has to be given up will vary from case to case, museums inevitably owe their chief financial supporter some accountability. This obligation will be reflected in their corporate hierarchy, which always roughly displays three layers. At the bottom is the museum itself, under its own professional management. At the top are the chief financial supporters, which may be a government (national, state, municipal, or other), some nonprofit organization or commercial enterprise, or a wealthy individual. Their motives may be philanthropic or self-serving or both. They are often ignorant of or disinterested in the museum, and usually do not get personally involved in its running. As a result, the chief financial supporters will install between themselves and the actual museum an intermediate-level agency (paid or voluntary) to oversee the museum. Answering directly to the providers of financial support, these overseers also rarely have much experience with, knowledge of, or interest in museums. This middle layer of museum hierarchy may be organized in various ways, for example, as a government department or a board of trustees.
The chief financial supporter of the Smithsonian Institution is the U.S. Congress; revenues from endowments and other sources are less significant. The role of overseer is played by a board of regents and the Smithsonian’s central administration under its secretary. At the bottom are the various individual museums, such as the NASM, with limited autonomy under their respective directors. This three-level organization, I believe, exists for all museums, although in its details it will take divers forms.
The practice of organizing museums, with regard to supervision and accountability, according to the flow of funds has certain natural consequences. When things are tranquil, the financial supporters, for reasons of inattention more than liberality, will keep their museums, via the overseers, on a long leash. When startled by some disturbance, however, the supporters will tighten the leash with surprising sharpness. The overseers will avoid the jolt; they will pass it on to the museum (and therefore often survive in their offices longer than do museum directors). From this follows the rule that no museum can win a direct confrontation with its chief financial supporters.
During the Enola Gay debates, the Smithsonian was frequently accused of practicing political correctness. Was the behavior thus labeled perhaps nothing more than a habit of adjusting the institutional focus to the tastes of financial supporters? During decades of stable liberal majorities in both branches of Congress, the Smithsonian had found it safe and rewarding to address its exhibitions to liberal audiences. Despite its long trail of problems, the cancellation of the Enola Gay exhibit was made possible by one event only: the change in the congressional majorities resulting from the November 1994 elections. It was the new Republican majority that was responsible; the relentlessly attacking war veterans and the change in Smithsonian leadership were only auxiliary factors. Under continuing Democratic majorities surely the original Enola Gay exhibit would have opened on schedule.
For a museum, then, adjusting its message to the tastes of its chief financial supporter is not as safe as it seems. For the defense of its intellectual independence, a museum needs a base that can withstand attack and that is professional, not political. It needs a source of intellectual authority from which to draw fresh information and original interpretations. This source can only be the museum’s collections and its own original scholarship on these collections. If a museum merely disseminates the results of conventional academic scholarship, it does so on borrowed authority. The museum will be vulnerable to questions not only about the specific reliability of such secondhand contributions but also about the essential merits of the activity.
Comparing the familiar result of academic work, the book, with the characteristic museum product, the exhibit, illustrates the point. Both make use of the same raw materials: words and pictures. The book presents a complex story, organized in linear sequence, usually at considerable length, which the reader assimilates only after many hours of concentrated study. The exhibit presents, in addition to words and pictures, sounds, smells, and above all three-dimensional objects that sometimes may even be touched. Exhibits are experienced in different circumstances than books; they are noisy, distracting, strenuous environments that present information simultaneously on many different levels. Museum visitors have total freedom to go wherever they wish, at any pace they choose. The time they devote to an exhibit is typically brief, better measured in minutes than hours.
Museum visitors will not read much. They do not have the time, and the exhibit environment makes reading hard; more powerful attractions than the written word compete for the visitor’s attention. Exhibit labels, therefore, are concise, seeking to deliver the most information in the fewest words. Their artistry is in omission; they are edited and printed for optimum readability, even at the cost of grace. Museum texts focus on the object directly before the visitor and avoid sustained narratives.
Books and museum exhibits also differ on the question of authorship. By making his or her name public, the author of a book assumes responsibility for the contents. How the readers express their applause or criticism is established in old traditions. Accordingly, the author has every freedom of expression. Museum exhibits are collaborations of many unnamed people who bear responsibility collectively. Freedom of expression is narrowed not only by the collective authorship itself but also by the hierarchy of the museum organization. No effective mechanisms have yet been established that allow museum visitors to express reactions to an exhibit or to join in discussion. Consequently, while any attempt to suppress an unwelcome book will always be met by vigorous public outcry, the cancellation of the Enola Gayexhibit was accepted by the public rather placidly.
For a book it is desirable to be controversial, so long as the argument is conducted according to the conventions of the craft (imagine the sales, if the Enola Gay exhibit had been a book!). The museum, by comparison, must be more circumspect. Imagine, for example, a natural history museum planning an exhibit on evolution. Since creationists reject the theory of evolution, the situation is predictably controversial. In mounting the exhibit, the museum should do justice to both competing theories, evolution and creation. Not only must the institution satisfy the two factions, but more important, it must satisfy the curiosity of the public who comes to the exhibit precisely to learn the merits of the controversy. Accordingly, the museum will introduce both theories with equal care, presenting the arguments pro and con so that both sides are satisfied. The exhibit will not express a preference for either theory; the judgment is left to the viewer.
A museum’s autonomy is therefore limited by its basic obligation of public service, its dependence upon financial supporters, and the narrow base of its intellectual authority. These limitations are weaknesses only when not recognized. But museums also have their characteristic strengths. The NASM, for example, has the distinction of attracting the most annual visitors worldwide. Within its subject area it has the most significant historical collection and the largest, most qualified staff. The fame of the NASM rests on its own accomplishments and on the prestige of the Smithsonian. It can call on remarkable financial resources, and it enjoys goodwill on all levels of society. Together, these assets give the museum considerable abilities of perseverance. To prevail in any particular battle, however, a museum needs a precise understanding of its strengths and weaknesses and then must make the most of this knowledge.
For a museum, a controversial exhibit is an adventure not unlike a battle. With the battle metaphor come some basic questions: What does winning mean? What could be gained? Is it worth the risks? Then come the choices of timing, field of battle, and strategy. Finally, once the battle has started, the museum must face practical challenges and the questions of tactics and skill in handling contingencies. Throughout the adventure, it is important to watch the cost-benefit balance and to retain the initiative over one’s actions.
The expression “controversial exhibit” is ambivalent. It may mean an exhibit that has had the desirable effect of provoking controversy about its subject by initiating a useful public discussion and ultimately clarifying the issue; conversely, it may mean that the exhibit has, undesirably, brought controversy upon itself, and that the public has begun to question the exhibit’s quality. It may happen that the same exhibit provokes both kinds of discussion, when viewers attack an exhibit’s quality because its message has offended them. Such an ambiguous response was probably unintended. By its basic service ethos, a museum will not deliberately offend its audience. Besides having an obligation to master its subject sufficiently to assess its potential for controversy, the museum must have the communication skills to present controversial material inoffensively. Should controversy erupt, the museum must judge whether its presentation is defensible, or whether clarifying corrections are called for.
Putting together a museum exhibit usually has three phases: a proposal phase, which precedes the decision to mount the exhibit; a design phase, in which the exhibit is given content and shape; and a production phase, in which the exhibit is built and finished, within budget and on schedule. These phases provide a useful framework for reviewing the rise and fall of the Enola Gay project.
The proposal phase examines the merits of the project, establishes its feasibility, and develops the arguments in its favor. Its conclusions are laid down in a short document, the exhibit proposal, which includes budget, timetables, and so forth. The heart of the proposal, the exhibit concept, has thematic and visual components. Because the exhibit tells its story through objects displayed in space, it is a three-dimensional construct in which the written word plays a subordinate role. Before a thematic concept can be formulated, the exhibit objects must be gathered and the exhibit space selected. Objects and space must be forged into a three-dimensional visual concept expressed in graphics. In the proposal, the visual concept will draw more attention than any prose descriptions and will largely determine the success of both the proposal and the ultimate exhibit. The thematic concept, in verbal form, is nevertheless the centerpiece of the proposal because, though not read by everyone, it defines the intellectual content of the whole project. In highly condensed form (a few hundred words with a brief summary) the thematic concept must state the exhibit’s objectives, expected attraction, intended contribution, and story line. A carefully prepared exhibit proposal has great advantages. It focuses the minds of the exhibit planners at an early point. It facilitates a consensus and spells out what was decided, thereby documenting the decision for future reference. After the decision, the proposal will prove useful in public relations efforts and in fund-raising.
In the Enola Gay project, the proposal stage ran its course in an informal, unstructured way. The end of the proposal phase was marked by neither a clear decision nor a comprehensive document that defined the exhibit and that could guide the subsequent design phase. The visual and spatial aspects of the exhibit were consistently neglected; Harwit’s account skims over them with a few vague sentences and no illustrations. The neglect had several harmful consequences. To begin with, in the absence of an orderly decision-making process, the decision to produce the exhibit was made as late as 28 February 1994, with difficulty and half-heartedly (Harwit, ch. 15, especially p. 178). The vagueness of the conceptual thinking devoted to the project resulted in never-ending discussions, not only internally and with friendly outsiders but also with increasingly hostile opponents.
But it was the absence of a visual concept that had the gravest consequences. Essentially, the Enola Gay exhibit was an exhibit of a single object of extreme visual power. The bomber is large; to fit the aircraft into the museum would have been difficult but not impossible (Harwit, pp. 35-36). The museum could have created space by removing other objects: an expensive solution, but an unbeatable one. Here is the scene: placed in one of the open spaces on the ground floor of the museum, the B-29 would have looked crowded and misplaced but bigger than in any other setting, a vast attraction for visitors. The nature of the space would have made it clear that this exhibit was temporary, in honor of the anniversary of the end of World War II; thereafter the Enola Gay would have been destined for display in the new museum extension at Dulles Airport. Beside the big original there would have been no other major objects, only display panels presenting the various aspects of the story. These auxiliary displays would be visually understated, unobtrusive, and dedicated to the various obvious elements of the story. Some of them could have been modestly celebratory (for example, the Manhattan Project, the technology of the B-29, the professionalism of the bombing run to Hiroshima, the Japanese capitulation), others (for example, the decision to use the bombs, the consequences “below the cloud,” the ethical problems of mass bombings, the causal nexus between the bomb and the capitulation) would quietly have stated the questions that do not go away. The exhibit would have been terse, not answering all questions and not telling the whole story. It would have presented evidence, not interpretation and judgment. The decision to drop the bomb, for example, should have been reconstructed exclusively from documents dating before the day of Hiroshima.
Instead it was decided to display only the nose section of the plane. How this decision was reached is not explained, but it had disastrous consequences. As a unique historic object, the Enola Gay was NASM’s only original contribution to the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of World War II; it legitimated the museum’s participation in the debates about the conclusion of World War II. In giving up the plan to exhibit this prime object, the museum fell under a moral obligation to offer it as a loan to one of those institutions who were eager and able to exhibit it in time for the anniversary. The NASM itself, then, would have been left with a choice between no exhibit at all (no serious problem) or one on another subject. The NASM, however, refused to accept these consequences. Instead it chose to display the nose section of the bomber in a limited, nondescript space, and to leave the thematic concept unchanged. This decision would not only make the exhibit visually ineffective; it also triggered those prolonged and painful disputes with the B-29 veterans, specifically the Enola Gay’s original crew, that ignited the controversy that ultimately undid the project.
The decision-making phase of the Enola Gay project dragged on. In July 1993 the secretary of the Smithsonian, Robert McC. Adams, was still debating conceptual questions; only a half year later, in February 1994, did he finally approve funding (Harwit, p. 178, and the chronology on pp. 430-34). By that time the museum had long since entered the design phase. The first draft of the exhibit script, finished on 14 January 1994, much maligned because of a few malapropisms, was respectable; the final version, withheld by the Smithsonian, would have been better. On the various technical levels, the capable and experienced professionals of the museum, with their considerable facilities, were soldiering on.
The controversies began with a campaign conducted from the mid1980s well through 1993 by B-29 veterans for the restoration and “proud display” of the Enola Gay. By mid-1993, various public relations arms of the U.S. Air Force, especially the Air Force Association (AFA), a well-financed lobbying organization for the air force and its veterans, had begun to criticize the project and to demand changes. They pursued their goals ruthlessly. In March 1994, for example, in a high-powered publicity campaign, the AFA used excerpts from the first draft of the exhibit script, which the NASM had shown the association in confidence, to discredit the project publicly. Republican members of Congress expressed concern, and the media reports became increasingly hostile. In mid-1994, the NASM attempted to enlist the American Legion as an ally of the project, but the effort backfired badly. In September of that year, a new secretary of the Smithsonian was installed. Two months later, powerful new Republican majorities were voted into both houses of Congress and soon expressed their opposition to the project. Responding to congressional pressure, I. Michael Heyman, the new secretary of the Smithsonian, canceled the project on 30 January 1995. On May 2, Martin Harwit resigned as director of the NASM. The next month, an expurgated Enola Gay exhibit was opened in the NASM.
The demise of the Enola Gay project was determined by two events. First, the project was seriously weakened by the museum’s decision late in 1992 to exhibit only the nose section of the fuselage. An exhibit of the entire airplane would have easily overcome all obstacles. The second blow was the November 1994 election, in which the Republicans gained majorities in both houses of Congress. Given this new political reality, Secretary Heyman had no chance of prevailing with the discredited exhibit. By then salvation lay only in a quick choice between an exhibit revision radical enough to pacify its opponents and an orderly, dignified retreat. Disregarding both these options inevitably meant subsequent capitulation and utter defeat. The two years between those two events, when the NASM still controlled its own fate, consume about three hundred pages of Martin Harwit’s Exhibit Denied. While it is impossible to review his account in detail here, I will bring up several particularly significant topics.
The first is the extraordinary role that Harwit, as directory of the NASM, assumed in the Enola Gay project. His own account makes clear that from the beginning, this project was a special concern of his and increasingly absorbed his energies. Certainly the opponents of the project identified him with it and often publicly demanded his dismissal. Ultimately, the controversy did cost him his position.
A museum director’s job description does not call for such involvement. His or her principal commitment is to the preservation and advancement of the museum as a whole. Part of the work is mounting exhibits, many every year, of varying size and significance. The job involves more, however. Apart from a host of routine duties, a museum director has a long-term agenda, tailored to his or her expected length of tenure. For the director of the NASM, this agenda included the Dulles museum extension, increasing the scholarly productivity and stature of the professional staff, and strengthening the museum’s intellectual independence and professional integrity against the pressures of special interests. These priorities were more important than any individual exhibit. As a member of the museum’s Research Advisory Committee I can testify that Harwit saw these priorities and pursued them with notable success. Why he risked and lost all this for a single exhibit of middling significance is a mystery.
Normally, a museum director takes care to insulate himself from direct involvement in specific museum projects. In an exhibit project, he or she delegates the operational responsibility to a project manager, and oversight of the scholarly content to an advisory committee. The director makes sure that the hierarchy above him is informed and in agreement, and that the project is backed by a consensus of the staff. The advantages of such detachment become obvious in the event of controversy. The director is no longer the first line of defense; he or she can sound less like an advocate and more like a judge. Facing the opposition, the director speaks with much more authority.
Advisory committees are useful only if they are small and comprise experts of formidable authority, especially in the eyes of the anticipated opposition. The members also must be absolutely devoted to the museum and sympathetic to each other. To be effective, the committee must stay with the project from start to finish and share in the creative work and responsibility. The committee chair is selected by the museum director, and together they select the other members.
The Enola Gay story sheds light on the relationship between the Smithsonian museum director and his overseer, the secretary of the institution. History shows that Smithsonian secretaries have been uninhibited in firing their museum directors because the jettisoned director would usually drop into the safety net of a permanent senior research sinecure. Harwit worked under two secretaries, Robert McC. Adams and I. Michael Heyman. Both played similarly ambiguous roles in the Enola Gay episode, oscillating between the postures of supportive senior colleague and hard-nosed CEO. They were of little help in either role: in the first, because they lacked the expertise and interest; in the second, because they were undecided about their support of the project and gave misleading signals to the director. When Harwit, a museum director who had made significant contributions and whose failure was of a most honorable sort, was finally forced to resign, the circumstances displayed a notable lack of ceremony.
Turning now to the controversy itself, one may distinguish between style, content, and handling. Criticism of the Enola Gay project was first handled in the normal manner, that is, in personal conversations, in letters, and so forth. As the controversy gained momentum, the project’s opponents introduced an angry tone into their language and displayed in their actions a hostility and a suspension of civilized behavior that Harwit’s account does not explain. Harwit responded with tireless, even-tempered negotiation, which, it seems, only generated more anger, and which all too quickly deteriorated into squabbles over details of the exhibit and the specific language of the script. Lobbying for the exhibit, as the subtitle of his book suggests, was Harwit’s main activity during the exhibit preparation. Taking place in worsening circumstances and reported in relentless detail, it must have been painful work. More important, all this lobbying was misguided in principle, because it meant moving the controversy into the political arena. Orchestra conductors, theater and opera directors, even gourmet chefs do not negotiate over the characteristics of their performance with their prospective audiences, to say nothing of special interest groups. Museums, too, produce their exhibits without advance approval from the public; the public reaction to the exhibit begins on opening day.
The controversy was fueled on several levels. On the surface there were concerns of a practical sort, such as the wish to have the Enola Gay restored, to have her displayed in full, to insist on a proper respect for the surviving veterans and on an appropriately festive mood in an exhibit commemorating the end of World War II. With generosity and suitable directness this part of the controversy should not have been difficult to resolve.
Another level, marked by epithets like “liberal historians” and “political correctness,” addressed the public role of historical museums. Public impatience with political correctness, whatever its definition, seems to be an empirical fact. Some of this impatience is apparently aimed at the Smithsonian in particular. The anger aroused by the concept of history itself and the historical profession is another empirical fact, although harder to understand. At issue, of course, is the never-ending quest for fuller historical understanding, which implies the continual reexamination of sensitive topics such as the decision to drop the atomic bomb. Here would have been the material and the occasion for a useful debate about the tasks and methods of historical research, especially when the research is conducted under the tensions of the political force field, which regrettably did not take place. The critics attacked the exhibit with epithets like “revisionism,” “historical relativism,” and “deconstructionism,” while its defenders countered with “balance,” “accuracy,” “fact,” and “truth.” On both sides, the discussion remained historically illiterate. Competent professional historians, knowledgeable in recent historiography, could have done much good here by analyzing and explaining terms like these and would thereby have helped the controversy become more fruitful.
More fundamentally, the controversy directly concerned the NASM. The congressional charter of the NASM, authorized in 1946 and updated later, gave the museum this mission: “The national air and space museum shall memorialize the national development of aviation and space flight; collect, preserve, and display aeronautical and space flight equipment of historical interest and significance; serve as a repository for scientific equipment and data pertaining to the development of aviation and space flight; and provide educational material for the historical study of aviation and space flight.” Smithsonian lawyers interpret this statement as a detailed spelling-out of, but not a change to, the basic Smithsonian trust responsibility “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men,” the crucially important mission statement of the original Smithsonian bequest, which, of course, cannot be diminished, augmented, or altered by other legislation. In the course of the Enola Gay controversy, however, veterans who accused the Smithsonian of not adequately honoring the service of American soldiers in past wars discovered a useful weapon for advancing their case in a forgotten piece of legislation In 1961, Congress had authorized a National Armed Forces Museum that was never funded or built. The charter for this nonexistent museumwhich includes language such as: “The valor and sacrificial service of the men and women of the Armed Forces shall be portrayed as an inspiration to the present and future generations of America”-they suggested, applied to the NASM. (For a full discussion of the foregoing, see Harwit, pp. 147-48.) The claim was reinforced in a nonbinding Senate resolution of 19 September 1994, sponsored by Senator Nancy Kassebaum (Harwit, p. 259). Whatever the legal resolution of this dispute, the two contrasting charters describe two different museums, one focusing on air and space activities, both civilian and military, in an objective and neutral manner; the other with the central mission of commemorating the contributions of the armed forces. If this was what the Enola Gay controversy was really about-namely, the basic direction of the NASM-then its ferocity becomes understandable.
In the end the controversy turned out as badly as possible, both for the NASM and for its director. The outcome, however, was not predetermined; it was caused by a variety of professional mistakes on the part of the Smithsonian and the NASM. One was to misunderstand the veterans’ reasonable expectations of an exhibition that would honor an anniversary such as 1995; another was the misguided idea of an Enola Gay exhibit displaying only the plane’s nose section. A more serious mistake was to ignore the deeper roots of the controversy, to fail to grasp that more important issues were at stake than the exhibit, and to miss the moment when a disaster could have been averted by compromise.
Besides specific mistakes of this sort there is the puzzle of the NASM’s tactical handling of the controversy, both in actions and omissions. The museum mounted no sustained public relations effort explaining the superiority of its concept over that of its critics. In communicating with critics, NASM had a duty to defend its position as the premier museum of its type in the world. In doing so, it should have listened to advice and criticism in an open-minded, self-critical attitude. In its pronouncements, especially to hostile special-interest groups, the museum should have been courteous and precise, but above all brief (conciseness is not, as his book shows, one of Martin Harwit’s strengths.) Nevertheless, the NASM should never have negotiated its decisions or its exhibit content. The bottom line should have been this: first we finish our exhibit, then you criticize it.
The mistakes made were of a kind that experienced, qualified museum professionals should not have made. But they have deeper causes. Ultimately, the Enola Gay disaster has its roots in Smithsonian traditions and customs; it was a disaster of leadership. The responsibility for the project rested with the director of the NASM, the two successive Smithsonian secretaries directly above him, and ultimately the Smithsonian regents at the top of the pyramid. Martin Harwit, a professor of astrophysics before he became director of the NASM, had no previous museum experience; he learned to run a museum while on the job. The same is true for the two secretaries, Adams and Heyman, academics and academic administrators both. The extent of their unfamiliarity with museums is illustrated in Harwit’s book. Both meddled in the Enola Gay project, unhelpfully, while it was fun and left Harwit and the museum to their respective fates when it no longer was. Adams selected as director for the NASM a man with no museum experience, and so now has Heyman-Vice Admiral (retired) Donald D. Engen. One lesson to be drawn from the Enola Gay episode is that the running of museums is a professional skill. Breeding first-rate practitioners of this skill requires the same mix of special training, experience, and selection that other professions employ in the rearing of their members.