The Smithsonian Institution (/smɪθˈsoʊniən/ smith-SOH-nee-ən), founded on August 10, 1846 "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge," is a group of museums and research centers administered by the Government of the United States. The institution is named after its founding donor, British scientist James Smithson. Originally organized as the "United States National Museum," that name ceased to exist as an administrative entity in 1967.
Termed "the nation's attic" for its eclectic holdings of 154 million items, the Institution's nineteen museums, nine research centers, and zoo include historical and architectural landmarks, mostly located in the District of Columbia. Additional facilities are located in Arizona, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York City, Pittsburgh, Texas, Virginia, and Panama. More than 200 institutions and museums in 45 states,[note 1] Puerto Rico, and Panama are Smithsonian Affiliates.
The Institution's thirty million annual visitors are admitted without charge. Its annual budget is around $1.2 billion with two-thirds coming from annual federal appropriations. Other funding comes from the Institution's endowment, private and corporate contributions, membership dues, and earned retail, concession, and licensing revenue. Institution publications include Smithsonian and Air & Space magazines.
Flag of the Smithsonian Institution
Location within Central Washington, D.C.
Smithsonian Institution (the United States)
|Established||August 10, 1846|
|Location||Washington, D.C.; Chantilly, Virginia; New York City|
|Director||David J. Skorton, Secretary of the Smithsonian|
The British scientist James Smithson (1765–1829) left most of his wealth to his nephew Henry James Hungerford. When Hungerford died childless in 1835, the estate passed "to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge among men", in accordance with Smithson's will. Congress officially accepted the legacy bequeathed to the nation, and pledged the faith of the United States to the charitable trust on July 1, 1836. The American diplomat Richard Rush was dispatched to England by President Andrew Jackson to collect the bequest. Rush returned in August 1838 with 105 sacks containing 104,960 gold sovereigns (about $500,000 at the time, which is equivalent to $11,764,000 in 2018).
Once the money was in hand, eight years of Congressional haggling ensued over how to interpret Smithson's rather vague mandate "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge." Unfortunately, the money was invested by the US Treasury in bonds issued by the state of Arkansas, which soon defaulted. After heated debate, Massachusetts Representative (and ex-President) John Quincy Adams persuaded Congress to restore the lost funds with interest and, despite designs on the money for other purposes, convinced his colleagues to preserve it for an institution of science and learning. Finally, on August 10, 1846, President James K. Polk signed the legislation that established the Smithsonian Institution as a trust instrumentality of the United States, to be administered by a Board of Regents and a Secretary of the Smithsonian.
Though the Smithsonian's first Secretary, Joseph Henry, wanted the Institution to be a center for scientific research, it also became the depository for various Washington and U.S. government collections. The United States Exploring Expedition by the U.S. Navy circumnavigated the globe between 1838 and 1842. The voyage amassed thousands of animal specimens, an herbarium of 50,000 plant specimens, and diverse shells and minerals, tropical birds, jars of seawater, and ethnographic artifacts from the South Pacific Ocean. These specimens and artifacts became part of the Smithsonian collections, as did those collected by several military and civilian surveys of the American West, including the Mexican Boundary Survey and Pacific Railroad Surveys, which assembled many Native American artifacts and natural history specimens.
In 1846, the regents developed a plan for weather observation; in 1847, money was appropriated for meteorological research. The Institution became a magnet for young scientists from 1857 to 1866, who formed a group called the Megatherium Club. The Smithsonian played a critical role as the U.S. partner institution in early bilateral scientific exchanges with the Academy of Sciences of Cuba.
Construction began on the Smithsonian Institution Building ("the Castle") in 1849. Designed by architect James Renwick Jr., its interiors were completed by general contractor Gilbert Cameron. The building opened in 1855.
The Smithsonian's first expansion came with construction of the Arts and Industries Building in 1881. Congress had promised to build a new structure for the museum if the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition generated enough income. It did, and the building was designed by architects Adolf Cluss and Paul Schulze, based on original plans developed by Major General Montgomery C. Meigs of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. It opened in 1881.
The National Museum of Natural History opened in June 1911 to similarly accommodate the Smithsonian's United States National Museum, which had previously been housed in the Castle and then the Arts and Industries Building. This structure was designed by the D.C. architectural firm of Hornblower & Marshall.
When Detroit philanthropist Charles Lang Freer donated his private collection to the Smithsonian and funds to build the museum to hold it (which was named the Freer Gallery), it was among the Smithsonian's first major donations from a private individual. The gallery opened in 1923.
More than 40 years would pass before the next museum, the Museum of History and Technology (renamed the National Museum of American History in 1980), opened in 1964. It was designed by the world-renowned firm of McKim, Mead & White. The Anacostia Community Museum, an "experimental store-front" museum created at the initiative of Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley, opened in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C., in 1967. That same year, the Smithsonian signed an agreement to take over the Cooper Union Museum for the Arts of Decoration (now the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum). The National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum opened in the Old Patent Office Building (built in 1867) on October 7, 1968. The reuse of an older building continued with the opening of the Renwick Gallery in 1972 in the 1874 Renwick-designed art gallery originally built by local philanthropist William Wilson Corcoran to house the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
The first new museum building to open since the National Museum of Natural History was the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, which opened in 1974. The National Air and Space Museum, the Smithsonian's largest in terms of floor space, opened in June 1976.
Eleven years later, the National Museum of African Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery opened in a new, joint, underground museum between the Freer Gallery and the Smithsonian Castle. Reuse of another old building came in 1993 with the opening of the National Postal Museum in the 1904 former City Post Office building, a few city blocks from the Mall.
In 2004, the Smithsonian opened the National Museum of the American Indian in a new building near the United States Capitol. Twelve years later almost to the day, in 2016, the latest museum opened: the National Museum of African American History and Culture, in a new building near the Washington Monument.
In 2011, the Smithsonian undertook its first-ever capital fundraising campaign. The $1.5 billion effort raised $1 billion at the three-year mark. Smithsonian officials made the campaign public in October 2014 in an effort to raise the remaining $500 million. More than 60,000 individuals and organizations donated money to the campaign by the time it went public. This included 192 gifts of at least $1 million. Members of the boards of directors of various Smithsonian museums donated $372 million. The Smithsonian said that funds raised will go toward completion of the National Museum of African American History and Culture building, and renovations of the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of American History, and the Renwick Gallery. A smaller amount of funds will go to educational initiatives and digitization of collections. As of September 2017, the Smithsonian claimed to have raised $1.79 billion, with 3 months left in the formal campaign calendar.
Separately from the major capital campaign, the Smithsonian has begun fundraising through Kickstarter. An example is a campaign to fund the preservation and maintenance of the ruby slippers from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
Nineteen museums and galleries, as well as the National Zoological Park, comprise the Smithsonian museums. Eleven are on the National Mall, the park that runs between the Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capitol. Other museums are located elsewhere in Washington, D.C., with two more in New York City and one in Chantilly, Virginia.
The Smithsonian has close ties with 168 other museums in 39 states, Panama, and Puerto Rico. These museums are known as Smithsonian Affiliated museums. Collections of artifacts are given to these museums in the form of long-term loans. The Smithsonian also has a large number of traveling exhibitions, operated through the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). In 2008, 58 of these traveling exhibitions went to 510 venues across the country.
Smithsonian collections include 156 million artworks, artifacts, and specimens. The National Museum of Natural History houses 145 million of these specimens and artifacts. The Collections Search Center has 9.9 million digital records available online. The Smithsonian Institution Libraries hold 2 million library volumes. Smithsonian Archives hold 156,830 cubic feet of archival material.
The Smithsonian Institution has many categories of displays that can be visited at the museums. In 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft donated her inauguration gown to the museum to begin the First Ladies' Gown display, one of the Smithsonian's most popular exhibits. The museum displays treasures such as the Star-Spangled Banner, the stove pipe hat that was worn by President Lincoln, the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard Of Oz, and the original Teddy Bear that was named after President Theodore Roosevelt. In 2016, the Smithsonian's Air & Space museum curators restored the large model Enterprise from the original Star Trek TV series.
The following is a list of Smithsonian research centers, with their affiliated museum in parentheses:
Also of note is the Smithsonian Museum Support Center (MSC), located in Silver Hill, Maryland (Suitland), which is the principal off-site conservation and collections facility for multiple Smithsonian museums, primarily the National Museum of Natural History. The MSC was dedicated in May 1983. The MSC covers 4.5 acres (1.8 ha) of land, with over 500,000 square feet (46,000 m2) of space, making it one of the largest set of structures in the Smithsonian. It has over 12 miles (19 km) of cabinets, and more than 31 million objects.
In 1997, the Smithsonian Latino Center was created as a way to recognize Latinos across the Smithsonian Institution. The primary purpose of the center is to place Latino contributions to the arts, history, science, and national culture across the Smithsonian's museums and research centers.
At the time of its creation, the Smithsonian Institution had other entities dedicated to other minority groups: National Museum of the American Indian, Freer-Sackler Gallery for Asian Arts and Culture, African Art Museum, and the National Museum of African-American Heritage and Culture.
The opening of the center was prompted, in part, by the publishing of a report called "Willful Neglect: The Smithsonian and U.S. Latinos".
According to documents obtained by The Washington Post, when former Latino Center executive director Pilar O'Leary first took the job, the center faced employees who had "serious performance issues". No performance plans existed for the staff and unfulfilled financial obligations to sponsors existed. The website's quality was poor, and the center did not have a public affairs manager, a programs director, adequate human resources support, or cohesive mission statement.
After difficult times in the first few years, the center improved. According to the Smithsonian, the center "support[s] scholarly research, exhibitions, public and educational programs, web-based content and virtual platforms, and collections and archives. [It] also manage[s] leadership and professional development programs for Latino youth, emerging scholars and museum professionals." Today, the website features a high-tech virtual museum.
The Smithsonian Latino Center's Young Ambassadors Program (YAP) is a program within the Latino Center that reaches out to Latino high school students with the goal of encouraging them to become leaders in arts, sciences, and the humanities.
Students selected for the program travel to Washington, D.C. for an "enrichment seminar" that lasts approximately five days. Afterwards, students return to their communities to serve in a paid, one-month internship.
Pilar O'Leary launched the program when she served as executive director of the Smithsonian Latino Center. According to the Latino Center, O'Leary told the press in 2007: "Our goal is to help our Young Ambassadors become the next generation of leaders in the arts and culture fields. This program encourages students to be proud of their roots and learn more about their cultural heritage to inspire them to educate the public in their own communities about how Latinos are enriching America's cultural fabric."
The Institution publishes Smithsonian magazine monthly and Air & Space magazine bimonthly. Smithsonian was the result of Secretary of the Smithsonian S. Dillon Ripley asking the retired editor of Life magazine Edward K. Thompson to produce a magazine "about things in which the Smithsonian Institution is interested, might be interested or ought to be interested." Another Secretary of the Smithsonian, Walter Boyne, founded Air & Space.
Smithsonian Books is a trade publisher. Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press is an academic publisher.
The Smithsonian makes a number of awards to acknowledge and support meritorious work.
The Smithsonian Institution was established as a trust instrumentality by act of Congress. More than two-thirds of the Smithsonian's workforce of some 6,300 persons are employees of the federal government. The Smithsonian Office of Protection Services oversees security at the Smithsonian facilities and enforces laws and regulations for National Capital Parks together with the United States Park Police.
The President's 2011 budget proposed just under $800 million in support for the Smithsonian, slightly increased from previous years. Institution exhibits are free of charge, though in 2010 the Deficit Commission recommended admission fees.
As approved by Congress on August 10, 1846, the legislation that created the Smithsonian Institution called for the creation of a Board of Regents to govern and administer the organization. This 17-member board meets at least four times a year and includes as ex officio members the Chief Justice of the United States and the Vice President of the United States. The nominal head of the Institution is the Chancellor, an office which has traditionally been held by the Chief Justice. In September 2007, the board created the position of Chair of the Board of Regents, a position currently held by John W. McCarter of Illinois.
Other members of the Board of Regents are three members of the U.S. House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House; three members of the Senate, appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate; and nine citizen members, nominated by the board and approved by the Congress in a joint resolution signed by the President of the United States. Regents who are senators or representatives serve for the duration of their elected terms, while citizen Regents serve a maximum of two six-year terms. Regents are compensated on a part-time basis.
The chief executive officer (CEO) of the Smithsonian is the Secretary, who is appointed by the Board of Regents. The Secretary also serves as secretary to the Board of Regents, but is not a voting member of that body. The Secretary of the Smithsonian has the privilege of the floor at the United States Senate. There have been 12 Secretaries. On September 18, 2013, Secretary G. Wayne Clough announced he would retire in October 2014. The Smithsonian Board of Regents said it has asked regent John McCarter, Jr. to lead a search committee. The search committee will consist of other regents and representatives from Smithsonian museums and centers.
On March 10, 2014, the Smithsonian Board of Directors selected Dr. David Skorton, a physician and president of Cornell University as the 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian. Skorton took the reins of the institution on 1 July 2015.
In 1995, controversy arose over the exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum with the display of the Enola Gay, the Superfortress used by the United States to drop the first atomic bomb used in World War II. The American Legion and Air Force Association believed the exhibit put forward only one side of the debate over the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and that it emphasized the effect on victims without discussing its use within the overall context of the war. The Smithsonian changed the exhibit, displaying the aircraft only with associated technical data and without discussion of its historic role in the war.
In 2003, a National Museum of Natural History exhibit, Subhankar Banerjee's Seasons of Life and Land, featuring photographs of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, was censored and moved to the basement by Smithsonian officials because they feared that its subject matter was too politically controversial.
In November 2007, The Washington Post reported internal criticism has been raised regarding the institution's handling of the exhibit on the Arctic. According to documents and e-mails, the exhibit and its associated presentation were edited at high levels to add "scientific uncertainty" regarding the nature and impact of global warming on the Arctic. Acting Secretary of the Smithsonian Cristián Samper was interviewed by the Post, and claimed the exhibit was edited because it contained conclusions that went beyond what could be proven by contemporary climatology. The Smithsonian is now a participant in the U.S. Global Change Research Program.
In April 2006, the institution entered into an agreement of "first refusal" rights for its vast silent and public domain film archives with Showtime Networks, mainly for use on the Smithsonian Channel, a network created from this deal. Critics contend this agreement effectively gives Showtime control over the film archives, as it requires filmmakers to obtain permission from the network to use extensive amounts of film footage from the Smithsonian archives.
The Smithsonian contends independent producers continue to have unchanged access to the institution and its collections as they had prior to the agreement. The process to gain access to film at the Smithsonian remains the same. Since January 2006, independent producers have made more than 500 requests to film in the museums and collections or to use archival footage and photos.
The Archives of American Art is the largest collection of primary resources documenting the history of the visual arts in the United States. More than 20 million items of original material are housed in the Archives' research centers in Washington, D.C. and New York City.
As a research center within the Smithsonian Institution, the Archives houses materials related to a variety of American visual art and artists. All regions of the country and numerous eras and art movements are represented. Among the significant artists represented in its collection are Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Marcel Breuer, Rockwell Kent, John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, John Trumbull, and Alexander Calder. In addition to the papers of artists, the Archives collects documentary material from art galleries, art dealers, and art collectors. It also houses a collection of over 2,000 art-related oral history interviews, and publishes a bi-yearly publication, the Archives of American Art Journal, which showcases collections within the Archives.Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is a design museum located in the Upper East Side's Museum Mile in Manhattan, New York City. It is one of nineteen museums that fall under the wing of the Smithsonian Institution and is one of three Smithsonian facilities located in New York City, the other two being the George Gustav Heye Center in Bowling Green and the Archives of American Art New York Research Center in the Flatiron District. It is the only museum in the United States devoted to historical and contemporary design. Its collections and exhibitions explore approximately 240 years of design aesthetic and creativity.Federal Art Project
The Federal Art Project (1935–43) was a New Deal program to fund the visual arts in the United States. Under national director Holger Cahill, it was one of five Federal Project Number One projects sponsored by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and the largest of the New Deal art projects. It was created not as a cultural activity but as a relief measure to employ artists and artisans to create murals, easel paintings, sculpture, graphic art, posters, photography, theatre scenic design, and arts and crafts. The WPA Federal Art Project established more than 100 community art centers throughout the country, researched and documented American design, commissioned a significant body of public art without restriction to content or subject matter, and sustained some 10,000 artists and craft workers during the Great Depression.Folkways Records
Folkways Records was a record label founded by Moses Asch that documented folk, world, and children's music. It was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1987 and is now part of Smithsonian Folkways.Global Volcanism Program
The Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program (GVP) documents Earth's volcanoes and their eruptive history over the past 10,000 years. The GVP reports on current eruptions from around the world as well as maintaining a database repository on active volcanoes and their eruptions. In this way, a global context for the planet's active volcanism is presented. Smithsonian reporting on current volcanic activity dates back to 1968, with the Center for Short-Lived Phenomena (CSLP). The GVP is housed in the Department of Mineral Sciences, part of the National Museum of Natural History, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
During the early stages of an eruption, the GVP acts as a clearing house of reports, data, and imagery which are accumulated from a global network of contributors. The early flow of information is managed such that the right people are contacted as well as helping to sort out vague and contradictory aspects that typically arise during the early days of an eruption.
The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report is a cooperative project between the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program and the United States Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program. Notices of volcanic activity posted on the report website are preliminary and subject to change as events are studied in more detail. Detailed reports on various volcanoes are published monthly in the Bulletin of the Global Volcanism NetworkThe GVP also documents the last 10,000 years of Earth's volcanism. The historic activity can guide perspectives on possible future events and on volcanoes showing activity. GVP's volcano and eruption databases constitute a foundation for all statistical statements concerning locations, frequencies, and magnitudes of Earth's volcanic eruptions during the past recent 10,000 years.
Two editions of Volcanoes of the World, a regional directory... (1981) and (1994) were published based on the GVP data and interpretations.Joseph Henry
Joseph Henry (December 17, 1797 – May 13, 1878) was an American scientist who served as the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He was the secretary for the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, a precursor of the Smithsonian Institution. He was highly regarded during his lifetime. While building electromagnets, Henry discovered the electromagnetic phenomenon of self-inductance. He also discovered mutual inductance independently of Michael Faraday, though Faraday was the first to make the discovery and publish his results. Henry developed the electromagnet into a practical device. He invented a precursor to the electric doorbell (specifically a bell that could be rung at a distance via an electric wire, 1831) and electric relay (1835). The SI unit of inductance, the Henry, is named in his honor. Henry's work on the electromagnetic relay was the basis of the practical electrical telegraph, invented by Samuel F. B. Morse and Sir Charles Wheatstone, separately.List of volcanoes in Antarctica
This is a list of volcanoes in Antarctica.Long steam tricycle
The Long steam tricycle appears to be one of the earliest preserved examples of a steam tricycle, built by George A. Long around 1880 and patented in 1883. One example was built, which after some years of use was dismantled and the parts dispersed. In 1946, one John H. Bateman, with assistance from the 96-year-old Long, reassembled the machine, which is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution. The example at the Smithsonian has been noted as the "oldest completely operable self-propelled road vehicle in the museum".In 2004–2010, the item was displayed at Blackhawk Museum in northern California.National Air and Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, also called the Air and Space Museum, is a museum in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1946 as the National Air Museum and opened its main building on the National Mall near L'Enfant Plaza in 1976. In 2016, the museum saw approximately 7.5 million visitors, making it the third most visited museum in the world, and the most visited museum in the United States. The museum contains the Apollo 11 command module, the Friendship 7 capsule which was flown by John Glenn, Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, the Bell X-1 which broke the sound barrier, the model of the starship Enterprise used in the science fiction television show Star Trek: The Original Series, and the Wright brothers' airplane near the entrance.
The National Air and Space Museum is a center for research into the history and science of aviation and spaceflight, as well as planetary science and terrestrial geology and geophysics. Almost all space and aircraft on display are originals or the original backup craft. It operates an annex, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, at Dulles International Airport, which opened in 2003 and itself encompasses 760,000 square feet (71,000 m2). The museum currently conducts restoration of its collection at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility in Suitland, Maryland, while steadily moving such restoration and archival activities into the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar, a part of the Udvar-Hazy annex facilities as of 2014.National Museum of American History
The National Museum of American History: Kenneth E. Behring Center collects, preserves, and displays the heritage of the United States in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific, and military history. Among the items on display is the original Star-Spangled Banner. The museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution and located on the National Mall at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW in Washington, D.C.National Numismatic Collection
The National Numismatic Collection is the national coin cabinet of the United States. The collection is part of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.National Postal Museum
The National Postal Museum, located opposite Union Station in Washington, D.C., United States, was established through joint agreement between the United States Postal Service and the Smithsonian Institution and opened in 1993.Paleobiology Database
The Paleobiology Database is an online resource for information on the distribution and classification of fossil animals, plants, and microorganisms.Smithsonian (magazine)
Smithsonian is the official journal published by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The first issue was published in 1970.Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian American Art Museum (commonly known as SAAM, and formerly the National Museum of American Art) is a museum in Washington, D.C., part of the Smithsonian Institution. Together with its branch museum, the Renwick Gallery, SAAM holds one of the world's largest and most inclusive collections of art, from the colonial period to the present, made in the United States. The museum has more than 7,000 artists represented in the collection. Most exhibitions take place in the museum's main building, the old Patent Office Building (shared with the National Portrait Gallery), while craft-focused exhibitions are shown in the Renwick Gallery.
The museum provides electronic resources to schools and the public through its national education program. It maintains seven online research databases with more than 500,000 records, including the Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture that document more than 400,000 artworks in public and private collections worldwide. Since 1951, the museum has maintained a traveling exhibition program; as of 2013, more than 2.5 million visitors have seen the exhibitions.Smithsonian Contributions and Studies Series
The Smithsonian Contributions and Studies Series is a collection of serial periodical publications produced by the Smithsonian Institution, detailing advances in various scientific and societal fields to which the Smithsonian Institution has made contributions.Smithsonian Institution Archives
The Smithsonian Institution Archives (SIA) is the archives of the Smithsonian Institution. SIA is located in Washington, D.C., United States, and maintains the archives related to the history of the 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, 9 research facilities, and the people of the Smithsonian.Smithsonian Institution Building
For similar uses and terms, see Smithsonian (disambiguation).The Smithsonian Institution Building, located near the National Mall in Washington, D.C. behind the National Museum of African Art and the Sackler Gallery, houses the Smithsonian Institution's administrative offices and information center. The building is constructed of Seneca red sandstone in the faux Norman style (a 12th-century combination of late Romanesque and early Gothic motifs; built in the Gothic and Romanesque revival styles) and is nicknamed The Castle. It was completed in 1855 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.Spencer Fullerton Baird
Spencer Fullerton Baird (; February 3, 1823 – August 19, 1887) was an American naturalist, ornithologist, ichthyologist, herpetologist, and museum curator. Baird was the first curator to be named at the Smithsonian Institution. He would eventually serve as assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian from 1850 to 1878, and as Secretary from 1878 until 1887. He was dedicated to expanding the natural history collections of the Smithsonian which he increased from 6,000 specimens in 1850 to over 2 million by the time of his death. He published over 1,000 works during his lifetime.
Secretaries of the Smithsonian Institution
# denotes an acting secretary
Landmarks of Washington, D.C.
|Parks and plazas|