This record unit documents the work of the assistant secretary for Museum Programs. The office directed the operations of the Conservation Analytical Laboratory, Office of Exhibits Central, Office of the Registrar, the Smithsonian Institution Archives, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, and the Institution's functions under the National Museum Act of 1966 until its repeal in 1983. In addition, the office served as liaison with various regional, national, and international museum organizations.
Records document planning and equipping the Museum Support Center, the major facility constructed in suburban Maryland to care for the national collections, and occupied in 1983; administration of the Arts and Industries Building; exhibitions at the Evans Gallery of the National Museum of Natural History; Institute of Museum Services; and work with the American Association of Museums, International Council of Museums (ICOM), the International Centre for Conservation in Rome, the International Center Committee of the Advisory Committee for Historic Preservation, and the United Nations Economic and Social Council. The records of William N. Richards, Jr., as special assistant to the assistant secretary for Museum Programs, 1972-1983, and as acting assistant secretary for Museum Programs, 1983-1985, are included, as are some records dealing with Paul Perrot's work in the museum field prior to his tenure at the Smithsonian.
This collection also includes vintage photographs of the Arts and Industries Building, circa 1879-1899, when galleries were built.