The Smithsonian Institution is a museum complex with most of its facilities in Washington D.C. It consists of 16 museums, 7 research centers and 142 million items in its collections.

Smithsonian is a monthly magazine published by the Smithsonian Institution.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Museums
3 Research Centers
4 External link
5 Further reading


The Smithsonian Institution was founded for the promotion and dissemination of knowledge by a bequest to the United States by James Smithson (1765-1829). In James Smithson's will, he stated that should his nephew, Henry James Hungerford, die without heirs, the Smithson estate would go to the United States of America for establishing an institution "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men". After the nephew died without heirs in 1835, President Andrew Jackson informed Congress of the bequest, which amounted to 100,000 gold sovereigns, or $500,000 U.S. dollars. Eight years later, Congress passed an act establishing the Smithsonian Institution and the act was signed into law on August 10, 1846 by James Polk. The Smithsonian Institution is established as a trust administered by a secretary and board of regents. The nominal head of the institute is the Chancellor, an office which has always been held by the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The Information Centre in the central complex has architecture reminiscent of a castle and is known informally as "The Castle". Many of the other buildings are landmarks and feature other distinctive architectural styles.

The "Castle" - the Smithsonian's information centre.


Research Centers

  • Astrophysical Observatory
  • Carrie-Bow Marine Field Station
  • Center For Earth and Planetary Studies
  • Environmental Research Center
  • Marine Station at Fort Pierce
  • Migratory Bird Center
  • Tropical Research Institute

External link

Further reading

  • Nina Burleigh, Stranger and the Statesman: James Smithson, John Quincy Adams, and the Making of America's Greatest Museum, The Smithsonian, Harpercollins, September, 2003, hardcover, 288 pages, ISBN 0060002417