Online Encyclopedia Search Tool

Your Online Encyclopedia


Online Encylopedia and Dictionary Research Site

Online Encyclopedia Free Search Online Encyclopedia Search    Online Encyclopedia Browse    welcome to our free dictionary for your research of every kind

Online Encyclopedia

Smithsonian Institution

(Redirected from Smithsonian Institute)

It is requested that this article be

The Castle
The Castle

The Smithsonian Institution is a museum complex with most of its facilities in Washington D.C.. It consists of 16 museums, 7 research centers and 142 million items in its collections.

A monthly magazine published by the Smithsonian Institution is also named Smithsonian.



The Smithsonian Institution was founded for the promotion and dissemination of knowledge by a bequest to the United States by James Smithson (1765-1829). In James Smithson's will, he stated that should his nephew, Henry James Hungerford , die without heirs, the Smithson estate would go to the United States of America for establishing an institution "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men". After the nephew died without heirs in 1835, President Andrew Jackson informed Congress of the bequest, which amounted to 100,000 gold sovereigns, or $500,000 U.S. dollars ($8,790,303 in current 2004 U.S. dollars after inflation). Eight years later, Congress passed an act establishing the Smithsonian Institution and the act was signed into law on August 10, 1846 by James Polk. The Smithsonian Institution is established as a trust administered by a secretary and board of regents. The nominal head of the institute is the Chancellor, an office which has always been held by the current Chief Justice of the United States. Serving as a member of the board of regents is one of the very few official legal duties of the Vice President of the United States.

The Information Center in the central complex has architecture reminiscent of a castle and is known informally as "The Castle". Many of the other buildings are landmarks and feature other distinctive architectural styles.

The asteroid 3773 Smithsonian is named in honor of the institution

Secretaries of the Smithsonian

See: The Secretaries of the Smithsonian Institutioin

Further reading

  • Nina Burleigh, Stranger and the Statesman: James Smithson, John Quincy Adams, and the Making of America's Greatest Museum, The Smithsonian, Harpercollins, September, 2003, hardcover, 288 pages, ISBN 0060002417

Links and references


Research centers

  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
  • Carrie-Bow Marine Field Station
  • Center For Earth and Planetary Studies
  • Environmental Research Center
  • Marine Station at Fort Pierce
  • Migratory Bird Center
  • Tropical Research Institute

External link

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45