Washington, D.C. - Due to the downturn in the economy, the Smithsonian Institution is knee-deep in red ink and has had to make some drastic changes to the way it does business in order to keep the multiple museums it oversees running on a daily basis.
It is for this reason that naming rights to the museums have been sold to the highest corporate bidders in what some claim is the Smithsonian Institution's attempt to cash in on the continuing practice of allowing corporate interests to "buy" various public gathering places and re-name them with the corporate name.
The better-known example of this is the selling and renaming of major sporting arenas throughout the United States, such as the Charmin Center in Detroit and the Slim Jim Stadium in St. Louis, MO.
Beginning in September, the following museums will see their names changed as follows:
BET Presents African Art Museum
Hard Rock Café Air Guitar and Space Museum
Cracker Barrel American Art Museum (complete with rocking chairs out front)
7-Eleven American History Museum and Souvenir Stand
Seminole Casinos American Indian Museum and Casino
Whole Foods Market Natural History Museum
Google National Zoological Park
K-Mart Portrait Gallery
Taco Bell Latino Virtual Museum (although a virtual museum, Taco Bell agreed to same terms)
HGTV Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum
The Smithsonian Institution is hopeful that the revenue it receives by selling the naming rights to these American institutions will allow it to update and make much needed repairs to the exhibits and the buildings which house them. While some "purists" believe that taking our national treasures and pimping them out to major corporations is akin to dragging our American Flag through a dung heap, most visitors don't care as long as they continue to be able to visit the museums free of charge.