- Get Involved
Smithsonian museums are open today, Dec. 10. The National Zoo is closed today, due to inclement weather.Skip navigation
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.