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Smithson's Gift

January 26, 1996 – December 29, 2005

Museum: Smithsonian Castle

Location: Great Hall

This showcase and accompanying information kiosk trace the history of the Smithsonian, a national institution built upon gifts of money, objects, property, time, and expertise beginning with James Smithson (1765-1829) who started the tradition of philanthropy with his bequest to the United States. Included are a time line of Smithson's life with images, facsimiles of his writings, smithsonite (a zinc ore named for Smithson), and images of other donors and donated objects, as well as artifacts and photographs which document the time-honored tradition of volunteer assistance at the Smithsonian.