About the Smithsonian

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The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, with 21 museums and the National Zoo—shaping the future by preserving 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

21 Museums + 1 Zoo

155.5M Museum Objects
& Specimens

2.2M Library Volumes

2,961 Scholarly Publications

For more Smithsonian numbers visit the Smithsonian Metrics Dashboard.

Congress passed legislation in 2020 establishing two new museums at the Smithsonian: the National Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum. The Smithsonian is in early planning stages for both.