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Smithsonian, Sponsored by Pfizer

Aired August 16, 2001 - 14:28   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The Smithsonian needs a lot of money to keep it up and running and thrilling Americans, as it has for decades, and today, CNN's Jeanne Meserve is there and she's here to tell us about a group that is providing a boost to the Smithsonian -- Jeanne?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, quite a bit. Seventy percent of the Smithsonian's funding comes from Congress. It gets some more money from retail sales, but it also actively solicits private and corporate money. There is a new exhibit that's opened recently at the Smithsonian called "The Brain: The World Inside Your Head." It's about the development and function, and occasionally dysfunction of the human brain. This is a traveling exhibition. It's going to around to 15 cities outside Washington, part of the museum's effort at outreach, to reach people outside of the capital, here.

The exhibit is funded by the Pfizer Corporation. Pfizer, of course, is a pharmaceutical company which, amongst other things, manufacturers drugs which are used to treat brain disorders. And joining me here right now is Dr. Randall Kaye of Pfizer. You're the director of pediatrics. Thanks a lot for joining us.

DR. RANDALL KAYE, PFIZER CORPORATION: Thanks. Nice being here.

MESERVE: Can you tell me how much money Pfizer put towards this exhibit?

KAYE: Well, in developing the exhibit, this is an exhibit that goes across the country, so we provide a significant amount of funding to actually develop it, and then to make sure that we can launch it in different museums across the country.

MESERVE: But you can't give me a dollar figure?

KAYE: It's hard to estimate a real dollar figure, because it really depends on the individual needs of an institution. So you take the Smithsonian, and they might need some extra operating funds to really help on staffing it and making it available to people.

MESERVE: Well, I'm sure it's more than 10 bucks, and I'm just curious as to why a corporation like Pfizer would be interested in giving a chunk of money to an institution, to an exhibit like this.

KAYE: That's such a great question. It's really important to communicate very specific information to people. Museum exhibits are a great way to help people understand two important points: how does the brain work. And once people understand a little bit better how the brain works, then they can also learn what might possibly go wrong. And that's an area that's very important to Pfizer, to help people understand the science behind brain-based disorders.

MESERVE: And there's also some good publicity that comes to you like this, I presume.

KAYE: Well, what happens is people start to learn a little bit more about brain-based disorders, and helps give them the opportunity, maybe talking with their doctor about these areas. Because it's an area where there's a lot of stigma still attached to diseases like depression, and they'll never come to their doctor unless they have that open communication.

MESERVE: Whose idea was this? Was it the Smithsonian's idea or was it Pfizer's idea?

KAYE: This is actually the second exhibit we've worked on with the Smithsonian. The first was microbes. And what's been really exciting is we did this in partnership together. So as Pfizer developed the actual brain exhibit, we then came to the Smithsonian to see if this would meet their exhibition needs.

MESERVE: But Pfizer developed it, not the Smithsonian, correct?

KAYE: Well, developments with Pfizer, BBH exhibits and also the National Institutes of Health, provide a lot of the content input for the exhibit.

MESERVE: What input did the Smithsonian have over the content? Any at all?

KAYE: The Smithsonian generally would help in the actual exhibit and how it's placed together. And most of the institutions that actually show the exhibit will do their own customized approaches for what the needs are for that local community.

MESERVE: You know there are some people who look at the amount of corporate money coming into museums and it makes them a little queasy. They think that museums, particularly this one, a public museum that represents the country, is perhaps getting a bit too commercial.

What's your reaction to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) like that?

KAYE: Well, both public museums and private museums still need the funds to do great exhibits. People can come to the Air and Space Museum right here to learn about maybe becoming a rocket scientist. Hopefully they'll go down to the brain exhibit and maybe learn about being a brain surgeon. They're not going to be able to do it unless there are funds to have great, interactive, fun exhibits for people.

MESERVE: How important did you think the corporate funding is?

KAYE: I think it's critical.

MESERVE: And we have to leave it there. Dr. Randall Kaye of Pfizer, thanks so much for joining us.

KAYE: Thank you. Nice being here.

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