About the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, with 19 museums and the National Zoo—shaping the future by preserving our heritage, discovering new knowledge, and sharing our resources with the world.

The Institution was founded in 1846 with funds from the Englishman James Smithson (1765–1829) according to his wishes “under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” We continue to honor this mission and invite you to join us in our quest.

Smithsonian at a Glance

19 Museums + 1 Zoo
26.7M Visits by Public

154M Museum Objects
& Specimens
2.1M Library Volumes

116M+ Website Visitors
8M+ Social Media Followers

6,511 Employees
721 Research Fellows
12,047 Volunteers