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Civil Servant Gives Smithsonian $2M

May 8, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A civil servant has donated $2 million to the Smithsonian Institution, the largest single donation in the institution’s history, Smithsonian officials announced Monday.

The donation from Paul Peck, a computer systems manager at the U.S. Customs Service, is to finance a multimedia program at the National Portrait Gallery to focus on the American presidency as an adjunct to the gallery’s Hall of Presidents.

``Every time I walk through the Hall of Presidents, I feel shivers,″ said Peck, who built his fortune through an off-duty consulting sideline on information technology, real estate and financial planning.

Peck’s gift will support the maintenance and improvements at the gallery and its collections and sponsor activities ranging from lectures, dramas and musicals to radio, television and Internet programs about the presidency.

In honor of his gift, the National Portrait Gallery will name a space after Peck when it reopens after renovations in 2003.

Peck began giving away his money in 1992 with the foundation of a D.C.-area scholarship program and establishment of a humanities institute at Montgomery College in Maryland.

``With a little luck,″ said Peck, ``when I die, I will have given everything away.″

The National Portrait Gallery also announced Monday that it is sending on loan about 1,000 works to museums and other institutions across the United States, Europe and Japan while its home, the Old Patent Office Building, is closed for renovation.

In other Smithsonian news, former Washington Post Co. president Alan Spoon was named a member of the Smithsonian’s board of regents. Spoon, 48, is currently a partner with Polaris Venture Partners.

The regents also reappointed Manuel Ibanez, a biochemist and professor at Texas A&M University in Kingsville, Texas, to the board.

Both men will serve six year terms.

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On the Net: National Portrait Gallery: http://www.npg.si.edu/

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