With heavy heart and true sadness, we share the passing of

Zarth Bertsch

It is with heavy heart and true sadness that we share with you the news of Zarth Bertsch’s passing. Zarth served as the Director of Theatres with Smithsonian Enterprises for nearly 13 years. He worked alongside many of us, and his loss will be greatly felt.

Zarth’s career in film and theatrical exhibition was marked by his passion and dedication. He began his journey with freelance photography, capturing moments with an artistic eye and heartfelt enthusiasm. His initial role overseeing technical operations at the IMAX Dome Theatre in the Science Station in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was a testament to his commitment to bringing immersive experiences to life.

Afterward, Zarth continued to share his expertise and love for the arts at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, where he spent five enriching years. His contributions were not only technical but also inspired a deep appreciation for the beauty of science and cinema in everyone he worked with.

Zarth was a proud graduate of Cornell and Syracuse, where he nurtured his intellectual curiosity and developed the skills that would define his remarkable career. He leaves behind a legacy of innovation, creativity, and an unwavering dedication to his craft. I encourage you to take a moment to reflect upon Zarth’s committed service to the millions of visitors who derived joy and knowledge from the countless IMAX and planetarium shows he arranged on their behalf

While formal services will be held with his family in Oklahoma, a DC-based memorial for friends is being planned for July. Please reach out to Elyse (DM: ElyseRegina) for information. Cards for the family should be sent to their attention in Oklahoma. Elyse can provide the address if needed. Finally, please continue to share your photographs and memories with Zarth’s family by posting them on Facebook.

Zarth Aarn Terry Bertsch

June 26, 1977 – May 31, 2024

He was a unique person who contributed much good to the world. I and many, many others will miss him and his never-ending efforts to always do the right thing in often challenging and very frustrating circumstances. His big voice and friendly demeanor added so much to many lives — including mine.

He loved life and it was loving him back. That is a blow to lose a life so young. I loved his sharp mind and his love of cinema; he was an epicurean.

He was such a fun, kind, intelligent man who was generally the most interesting guy in any room he was in. I can’t believe his life was cut so short. It’s a reminder to us all that each day is in fact a blessing and should not be wasted. His legacy at Smithsonian will live on!

He was a good guy and enhanced my appreciation of traditional film. I remember walking into his office one time, and he showed me this piece of IMAX 70mm film. “Film has much better picture quality than digital, look at this.”

Zarth was an avid tennis player and a wine/food enthusiast. He had a great booming voice and was always sharply dressed. He was a connoisseur of the finer things of life and had such a good lifestyle in DC.

Personified the term “bon vivant.”

Zarth ran the SI Theaters. He loved movies. He loved when the Museum hosted premieres with the stars. And he reveled in getting screen-used costumes from the studios to show outside the theater to promote films. He sent me a hilarious email one time after he’d spent the evening mounting movie costumes on mannequins, that he’d ended up at Target buying a padded bra because one of the costumes absolutely looked wrong without more internal support. So he was standing in front of a rack of bras, cracking up because he was trying to figure out what size Zoe Saldana wore!

My heart is broken – he was such a fun, caring, and charismatic man. Sending love and peace to all who knew and loved him