Koch to fund renovation of Smithsonian’s dinosaur hall

May 4, 2012 • 6:11 am

by Greg Mayer

David Koch, billionaire industrialist and bankroller of right wing causes, has announced that he will donate $35 million to the National Museum of Natural History (aka the USNM) for an overhaul of its dinosaur hall. The New York Times’ Patricia Cohen writes:

In 2009 he gave the Smithsonian $15 million to create the museum’s Hall of Human Origins. And in 2006 he gave the Manhattan museum [i.e. the American Museum of Natural History in New York] $20 million to create the David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing. This latest gift, the largest donation in the museum’s 102-year history, will result in the new dinosaur hall in Washington also being named for Mr. Koch. The total cost of the new hall, with 25,000 square feet of exhibition space, is estimated to be $45 million, a museum spokesman said.

According to this longer AP piece, it seems as if the renovation will extend to the other adjacent fossil halls, and not just the dinosaurs.

As noted by Cohen, Koch funded the Hall of Human Origins at the USNM, which Jerry (here and here) and  I reviewed here at WEIT. Koch’s funding also elicited some controversy, regarding whether his climate denialism would be included in the exhibit, which we also noted (here, here  and in the PS here) at WEIT.

22 thoughts on “Koch to fund renovation of Smithsonian’s dinosaur hall

  1. (Don’t you love the name of the hall?)
    Although Koch is of German origin, clearly he has discarded Martin Luther’s protest against the purchase of indulgences. His “gifts” to otherwise credible institutions are, to me, his cynical and hypocritical attempt to buy his way into civilized heaven. (Which isn’t the State of Wisconsin, although he did buy that, too.)
    As it happens, yesterday on my Sidebar I mentioned with bitterness that Lincoln Center’s State Theater, its premiere dance facility, is now the David H. Koch Theater. And indeed, Koch shows his face regularly at New York’s cultural/charity events. That’s New York City, the vital antagonist to everything Koch represents.
    As a consequence I don’t donate to Lincoln Center (although I go there frequently).
    Nor do I buy Quilted Northern toilet paper (that’s not a non-sequitur).

  2. As far as I’ve read, these industrialists don’t do anything that doesn’t somehow lower their taxes and degrade environmental laws, the rest of the world be hanged. So the most benign interpretation of this latest example of Koch “generosity” is an attempt at rehabilitating a corporate image that has gotten a little tattered of late, in order to improve sales and the profits they use to fund anti-science activism. A less benign interpretation is that the Kochs will attempt to skew these exhibits in some way that furthers their assault on any science that interferes with their profits. With either interpretation, there is a whiff here of Templeton, which gives to science in order to deny it, and there’s a legitimate argument that the NMNH should turn down the money instead of making a deal that, while helpful in the short term, might ultimately hurt the cause of science and the human progress that depends on it.

  3. A teacher gave me a pointer about dealing with controversy. Don’t critique the individual, critique the action of the individual. If an individual’s actions appear to be noble he should be commended. Savage attacks if needed at all, should be reserved only for those instances when the indivual’s actions prove to be less than noble.

    1. That teacher was logically inconsistent. “Critique the action” – but then “commend the individual”?

    2. “A teacher gave me a pointer about dealing with controversy. Don’t critique the individual, critique the action of the individual.”

      And it’s exactly this type of naïvité that people like Koch count on when they advance evil motives by making token gestures.

      Is this a pure-minded act, motivated by the greater good and philanthropic goodness or a cynical attempt to rehabilitate a name that has been rightfully dragged through the muck?

      It’s an important question to find the answer to and one which simply cannot be answered if we followed your teacher’s simple-minded guide.

  4. I’m sure it’ll work out fine…just think, there will probably be a great diorama showing dinosaurs being used as beasts of burden by the cave men of the day.

    Oh…you mean The Flintstones wasn’t based on real events?

    1. Actually, the Koch brothers are non-believers so they have no investment in YEC or creationism.

      1. …except that they’re aligned with the rabid right-wing of the Rethuglican party, which is very much invested in anti-science nonsense, and is infused with YEC/anti-evolution/anti-science nutjobs…

        Seriously, you have to be told that you’re judged by the company you keep?

          1. Which is something the Smithsonian may want to consider. The Koch’s gave $200k to the Heartland Institute – the folks who just put up that excreble Unabomber billboard against climate change.

    2. “Oh…you mean The Flintstones wasn’t based on real events?”

      Nah, it wasn’t real, the animation standards were incredibly cheap. If it’d been made by Pixar or ILM, now, *then* it would have been real. 😉

  5. I wonder if the new Dinosaur hall will include humans and Noah’s Ark. Just asking … I’m always suspicious of people who claim to be libertarians.

  6. I suspect that the hall will be scientifically accurate. It would be safe because, after all, only science nerds visit museums, and no one* listens to them anyway.

    * No one of any importance, anyway 🙁

  7. The Koch brothers only invest in something if it is in their best interest. I’m positive this will be a disaster over the next few years … David Koch will start to influence all his $$ interests with right wing Recrazycan bullshit! More harm than good will come of this donation.

  8. People are generally complex mixes of good and bad. Antique dealer friends were hippty-hop over selling a guy an antique toy car for $2000. They still had his check in hand when they read in the newspaper that he had scammed the local art museum for big bucks, closed his bank accounts and skipped. With fear and trembling, they immediately went to his bank. Yes, he had closed all his accounts except his toy account. He left it open there were outstanding checks drawn on that account. Friends cashed their check and came home happy.

    So, fine to sell that guy an antique toy, but don’t let him near your art museum.

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