Old, but the recent Simon readings reminded me…




I’m sure a lot of people are familiar with Stephen Colbert and how he tried to get his portrait in the Smithsonian National History Museum and then succeeded in getting it into the National Portrait Gallery as it got a lot of press (and the videos are hilarious and could always be re-watched). It made me think about communities contributing to museums in non-traditional ways and the media power Colbert was able to use. His fan base was also very influential in getting his portrait in the gallery. Of course there were always people critical about putting a celebrity’s not-so-serious photo in the Smithsonian, but many fans felt they had contributed to this museum exhibit and became visitors to an institution they may not have otherwise visited. Even the Director of the National Portrait Gallery said that they had thousands of new visitors due to Colbert’s “humorous portrait.” (http://www.npg.si.edu/inform/sullivan.html) How do you think the museum acted? Did they have a choice with all of the media pressure?