The National Museum of Natural History is part of the Smithsonian Institution, a museum, education and research complex of 16 museums and galleries, and the National Zoo. One of the world's leading scientific research centers, with facilities in eight States and in the Republic of Panama, the Smithsonian is the largest museum complex in the world.

The Smithsonian Institution celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1996. Its museums report more than 25 million visits a year with an additional three million estimated visitors at the National Zoo. The total number of objects in the Institution's national collections is estimated at more than 140 million, of which only a small percentage is on display at any one time.

Founded in 1967, Imax Corporation has consistently delivered the world's premiere cinematic experiences. In 1997, Imax was awarded the sole Academy Award® for Scientific and Technical Achievement by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The award recognized Imax's innovation in creating one of the world's best film capture and projection systems as well as Imax's acceptance as part of the entertainment mainstream.

There are more than 200 Imax Theatres in 25 countries, with a backlog of more than 80 theatre systems scheduled to open in 15 new countries during the next few years. Imax has forged strategic alliances and relationships with some of the most prominent corporations in the world including The Walt Disney Company, Famous Players Inc. (a subsidiary of Viacom Inc.) and Loews Cineplex Corp.

Over 500 million people have seen an IMAX presentation since the medium premiered in 1970. In 1999, more than 70 million people worldwide are expected to visit an IMAX theater.

Mandalay Media Arts is the non-fiction programming production entity launched last year by Peter Guber, Al Giddings and Barry Clark. In addition to its large-format production activities, Mandalay Media Arts has an ambitious slate of HDTV (high-definition television) projects in production and development, all of which focus on the natural world.

The company's initial outing in the HD medium is the two-hour PBS special Sahara: Seasons in the Sand, which recently wrapped eleven months of principal photography in North Africa. Another high-definition project, tentatively titled The Primal Contract, is currently in development with Australia-based Beyond International and PBS station WETA. This four-part series-to be filmed around the world using Sony's new HDCAM high-definition camcorders-will explore the long and ambivalent relationship between humans and other animals.

The Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galápagos Islands was established in 1959, 100 years after the publication of Darwin's "The Origin of the Species," under the auspices of the Ecuadorian Government, UNESCO, and the World Conservation Union - formerly known as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

An international, non-profit organization, The Charles Darwin Foundation was created to help conserve the Galápagos Islands and their unique flora and fauna. The approximately 100 members are a mixture of scientists, conservationists, government officials, and interested private citizens who share an interest in conserving the Galápagos.

Under an agreement with the Ecuadorian Government-renewed in 1991 for a second 25-year period-the C.D.F. advises and assists the Government on the conservation of Galápagos. The Foundation operates the Charles Darwin Research Station (C.D.R.S.) in the Galápagos Islands, and has the office of the Secretary General in Quito.

The Charles Darwin Research Station is located in wild natural terrain about two kilometers from the port village and main tourism center of Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz Island. The C.D.R.S. multi-national team is comprised of permanent staff, volunteers, and students-about 100 people in total on three islands; Santa Cruz, Isabela, and San Cristobal-and can also draw on the expertise of Foundation members around the world as well as from the frequent visiting scientists.

The Station's principal partner, the Galápagos National Park Service, is the government institution responsible for the Galápagos National Park. By conducting applied research on key problems affecting the Galápagos ecosystem, the C.D.R.S. assists the Park Service in design, planning, and implementation of conservation programs.

The partnership between the two institutions has produced some highly successful programs such as the captive breeding of endangered tortoises and iguanas; the eradication of introduced mammals in certain islands; the rescue of near-extinct plants. Important advances have also been made towards effective conservation of the marine environment.

Current areas of conservation research by the Charles Darwin Research Station include: improvement of reptile breeding and tortoise health; methods to counter threats to endangered birds; monitoring and protection of endangered plants; methods to control introduced plants; monitoring and control of introduced insects; marine biodiversity studies; biological studies of exploited marine species; and fisheries and ecological monitoring.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), which provided major funding for Galápagos, was created in 1950 as an independent U.S. government agency to promote and advance progress in engineering and science research and education in the United States. NSF invests more than $3.3 billion per year in almost 20,000 grants for research and education projects in engineering, science, and technology. NSF is the only federal agency whose mission covers science and engineering research as well as education at all levels across all fields. NSF manages all U.S. research done in Antarctica. Established by the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, NSF is overseen by a 24-member National Science Board and a Director, each appointed by The President. NSF's mission is to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense. Its mission includes enhancing public understanding of science and public literacy in science.

Among many other activities, NSF is authorized by legislation to:

  1. Strengthen scientific and engineering research potential and education programs at all levels, and appraise impacts of research upon industrial development and the general welfare.
  2. Maintain a register of scientific and technical personnel, provide a central clearinghouse of data on scientific and technical resources in the United States, and provide a source of information for policy formulation.
  3. Determine the total amount of federal money received by organizations for the conduct of basic and applied scientific and engineering research and for the construction of associated facilities.
  4. Recommend and encourage the pursuit of national policies for the promotion of basic research and education in the sciences and engineering.

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