Mass media is all abuzz with the advent of Dan Brown's latest intrigue-laden potboiler, The Lost Symbol. Much ado has been made of the extreme secrecy surrounding the book and the millions of printed copies being kept under lock and key. However, here is a small insider scoop: In April 2008, Brown toured the Smithsonian's Museum Support Center in Maryland and viewed several wet specimens. Some of you may have gotten a glimpse of the facility—and some of the critters therein—in this segment from the Today show.
However, whether or not the Smithsonian does indeed play a role in the book is purely speculative and our sources at the Institution are respectfully keeping all knowledge of Brown's narrative under wraps.
So for now, we only have our imaginations to puzzle out what a thriller set at the Smithsonian would be like. Dan Burstein—who authored Secrets of the Code, a guide to Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code—thinks he can foretell the events of The Lost Symbol based on clues in the dust jackets of Brown's previous books and some hardcore detective work, which he recently described in New York magazine. But what would Smithsonian staffers like to see if a bit of pulp fiction were set at the Institution? "I would hope that it wouldn’t portray the Smithsonian in a negative light," says Richard Stamm, curator of the Castle collection, "and that it would be more accurate than either Vidal’s book or Night at the Museum in describing the place. I'm keeping my fingers crossed if Dan Brown does portray the Smithsonian Institution. To say that he tends to go over the top is putting it mildly, but his books are always a good read."