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The Smithsonian Collection: ‘You’re Gonna Love Sitting On Our History!’

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There’s that old saying, isn’t there, when you’re saying something negative about something someone owns? You spot a couch at a party that looks like it was found in the alley downstairs and you say, “That looks like it belongs in the Smithsonian” (alternately, you might have also said that about someone who has a weathered look about them, but we’re not the insensitive jerks you people are, so we don’t let it get any further than furniture). Long intro short, The Smithsonian Collection has just launched and it’s exactly what it sounds like: furniture inspired by pieces in the collection held by the national museum. So it’s sort of like Design Within Reach for the colonial set. Here’s from the AP report:

The Smithsonian collection is being offered through licensing agreements with Bernhardt Furniture Co., Kichler Lighting and other manufacturers that will distribute products to retailers such as Dillard’s Inc., the department store chain based in Little Rock, Ark.

The nonprofit Smithsonian receives about 70 percent of its operating budget from the federal government, but it is struggling to pay for a $2.5 billion maintenance backlog.

Smithsonian officials say royalties generated by the collection will become a substantial funding stream.

“It’s a way for the institution to make money on things that reference the collection, and it’s also a vehicle to raise awareness of the Smithsonian and its collections and the variety of museums that we have,” said Reid, consumer products director in the business unit’s licensing division.

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