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Now that Wayne Clough is running the mighty ship that is the Smithsonian Institution, and he’s made a bunch of promises in the LA Times, he’s pulling one of his first big moves to help weather the storm that is the rotten economy (see how well that analogy worked?!). Well, okay, maybe it’s not the biggest of moves, but he’s just announced that three of their top museums, the Air and Space, the Natural History and American History, will extend their hours to hopefully keep capitalizing on the continued bigger turnouts in DC. Though, of course, this comes with a warning, as we recently learned that more people doesn’t always mean anyone’s spending more while they’re visiting, so we’ll have to see if Clough’s gambit pays offs. Here’s some:

“While attendance is up, people aren’t spending as much,” Clough said. That left revenue from museum stores “about flat” over the first three months of 2009, he said. “In this day and age, about flat is pretty good.”

…Still, the Smithsonian has not been able to avoid cutting staff and trimming other budget priorities as its endowment and private revenue has shriveled. After topping $1 billion in late 2007, the Smithsonian endowment has declined to about $756 million because of stock market turmoil.