The Smithsonian at 175
The Smithsonian was founded August 1846. Join us in person or online to mark this historic milestone and imagine the Institution’s next 175 years.
The Smithsonian Institution was established by an act of Congress in 1846 as an independent federal trust instrumentality, a unique public-private partnership that has proven its value as a cultural and scientific resource for more than 170 years. The federal commitment provides the foundation for all we do, and is especially helpful in attracting private support. We leverage our federal funding to enrich the lives of the American people and advance our mission for “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.”
Congress vested responsibility for the administration of the Smithsonian in a Board of Regents, consisting of the Chief Justice of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, three members of the United States Senate, three members of the United States House of Representatives, and nine citizens. The Board of Regents meets at least four times each year and typically convenes in the Regents Room.
The head of the Smithsonian is the Secretary, who is appointed by the Board of Regents. The Secretary oversees 21museums, 21 libraries, the National Zoo, numerous education and research centers, including the Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, and Smithsonian Science Education Center.