Order of James Smithson

Awards and Medals
July 31, 2023
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James Smithson medal, ribbon and medal against black background

Named for the founding donor of the Smithsonian Institution, the Order of James Smithson celebrates donors who have made transformative contributions to the Institution. The Smithsonian’s guiding purpose, "For the Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge," is transcribed on the medal given to recipients of this prestigious award. Since the Board of Regents established the Order in 1983, it has been awarded only 12 times.

The Smithsonian National Board proposes nominees for the Order of James Smithson to the Secretary, who notifies the nominees of their election. The members are then formally instated by the Board of Regents and honored by the Institution. Recipients include:

  • 2023 - Elizabeth Sutton MacMillan
  • 2023 - Robert P. Kogod
  • 2021 - Adrienne B. Mars
  • 2006 - Fred W. Smith
  • 2002 - Dorothy G. Lemelson
  • 2000 - Steven F. Udvar-Hazy
  • 1999 - Ikuo Hirayama
  • 1998 - Kenneth E. Behring
  • 1985 - Sarah Roby
  • 1984 - S. Dillon Ripley
  • 1984 - Enid A. Haupt
  • 1984 - Arthur M. Sackler