Complaining that research at the Smithsonian has become "unfocused and underfunded," a special commission urged the institution Tuesday to concentrate its scientific work in specific areas and make a major effort to raise more money.
"The Smithsonian should be the leader in science education nationally," said commission Chairman Jeremy A. Sabloff, director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia.
While the Smithsonian has many excellent scientists and research programs, their efforts lack coordination and support, he said.
Commission member D. James Baker, president of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, said that while the 19th century was the golden age of exploration and the 20th century was the golden age of science, "the 21st century will be the golden age of the application of science, and this is where the Smithsonian can really shine."
David L. Evans, Smithsonian undersecretary for science, said the institution will work to implement the recommendations. "We're all pretty excited about the future," he said.
The report comes nearly 18 months after the commission was appointed amid fierce criticism of proposals for research cutbacks and closings by Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence M. Small.