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
30.1M Visits by Public

154.8M Museum Objects
& Specimens
2.1M Library Volumes

151M+ Website Visitors

13.8M+ Social Media Followers

6,765 Employees
771 Research Fellows
16,270 Volunteers:
6,905 On-Site and
9,365 Digital

For more Smithsonian numbers visit the Smithsonian Metrics Dashboard.