Smithsonian Owes Debt to Commercialization

Marsha Mercer's “Selling of the Smithsonian” (Commentary, Wednesday) criticized the new “commercialized” Mall because it has to raise money from dreaded corporations. Her criticism could not be more wrongheaded.

If commercialization ruins the Smithsonian, then the whole rotten structure should be torn down. As Sam Kazman, general counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, has pointed out, the Smithsonian was made possible by a large donation from James Smithson, a successful scientist and industrialist. Commerce created the Smithsonian.

One may be disgusted when viewing shopping malls, contented consumers and bustling commerce, but we should never forget that the Smithsonian would not exist without commercialization. The Smithsonian is an example of the luxury that commercialization makes possible.