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Encyclopedia Smithsonian

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TOPICS: Smithsonian, History of

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Online Exhibition

1846: Portrait of the Nation 1846: Portrait of the Nation

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Smithsonian, this exhibition looks back at the America of 1846.

Building a National Collection: 150 Years of Print Collecting at the Smithsonian
Celebrating 100 Years at the National Museum of Natural History Celebrating 100 Years at the National Museum of Natural History

This photographic exhibition highlights the behind-the-scenes research that advances scientific knowledge and inspires the museum's public educational programs.

From Smithson to Smithsonian: The Birth of an Institution From Smithson to Smithsonian: The Birth of an Institution

This exhibition recounts the origin and early years of the Smithsonian Institution -- from British scientist James Smithson's last will and testament of 1826 through the administrations of the Institution's first 2 Secretaries, Joseph Henry and Spencer Fullerton Baird.

Madam on the Mall Madam on the Mall

This case discusses the archaeological findings on the site of the American Indian Museum.

Smithson Crypt Smithson Crypt

The final resting place of the Institution's benefactor, James Smithson (1765-1829), is a small chapel-like room located at the north entrance to the Castle.

Note: On Monday, December 8, the Castle is closed to the public from 12:00 noon to 5:30 p.m. It reopens Tuesday, December 9 at 8:30 a.m..

Temple of Invention: History of a National Landmark Temple of Invention: History of a National Landmark

To celebrate the historic Patent Office Building's 170th anniversary, this exhibition tells its story from its construction begun in 1836 to the current 2000-2006 restoration.

Online Feature

Archaeological Investigations: National Museum of the American Indian Site

History of the site where the museum has been built.

Collections Seach Center: Video Recordings Collections Seach Center: Video Recordings

Video recordings in the Collections Search Center.

Smithsonian Education Online Conference Series: Abraham Lincoln Smithsonian Education Online Conference Series: Abraham Lincoln

Enjoy any or all of the archived sessions and participate in discussions with other educators on classroom applications. Find Lincoln-related classroom materials and downloadables.

Spencer F. Baird's Vision for a National Museum Spencer F. Baird's Vision for a National Museum

Learn about the second Secretary of the Smithsonian and his determination to create the United States National Museum.

Research Program

Center for Education and Museum Studies

Disseminates publications and research developed for the museum community.

Smithsonian Insitution Scholarly Press

Continuing the rich history of scholarly publishing by the Smithsonian, including digital publications from the Contributions Series.

Smithsonian Institution Archives

Maintaining the historical records of the Institution.

Smithsonian Ornithology

Throughout its history, the Smithsonian Institution has played a role of paramount importance in the development of ornithology in North America. Across the Institution, ornithologists carry out important work on the basic biology and conservation of birds all over the world.

Research Resource

Collections Search Center Collections Search Center

Search millions of records, with images, video and sound files from Smithsonian museums, archives, and libraries.

Mary Henry Diaries: Eyewitness to the Civil War Mary Henry Diaries: Eyewitness to the Civil War

Mary Henry's diaries give us a unique and personal insights into life in Washington during the Civil War.

Samuel P. Langley: Aviation Pioneer

Samuel Langley, third secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, almost invented the airplane before the Wright brothers.

Smithsonian Institution Archives

Maintaining the historical records of the Institution.

Smithsonian Institution Libraries Smithsonian Institution Libraries

The Smithsonian's 22 branch libraries contain more than 1.8 million volumes, including 40,000 rare books.