List of Smithsonian museums

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Statue of Joseph Henry, the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, in front of the Smithsonian Institution Building JosephHenry-SmithsonianCastle-20050517.jpg
Statue of Joseph Henry, the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, in front of the Smithsonian Institution Building

The Smithsonian museums are the most widely visible part of the United States' Smithsonian Institution and consist of 20 museums and galleries as well as the National Zoological Park. [1] 17 of these collections are located in Washington D.C., with 11 of those located on the National Mall. The remaining ones are in New York City and Chantilly, Virginia. The Arts and Industries Building is only open for special events. [1]

Contents

The birth of the Smithsonian Institution can be traced to the acceptance of James Smithson's legacy, willed to the United States in 1826. Smithson died in 1829, and in 1836, President Andrew Jackson informed Congress of the gift, which it accepted. In 1838, Smithson's legacy, which totaled more than $500,000, was delivered to the United States Mint and entered the Treasury. After eight years, in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution was established. [2]

The Smithsonian Institution Building (also known as "The Castle") was completed in 1855 to house an art gallery, a library, a chemical laboratory, lecture halls, museum galleries, and offices. [3] During this time the Smithsonian was a learning institution concerned mainly with enhancing science and less interested in being a museum. Under the second secretary, Spencer Fullerton Baird, the Smithsonian turned into a full-fledged museum, mostly through the acquisition of 60 boxcars worth of displays from the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. The income from the exhibition of these artifacts allowed for the construction of the National Museum, which is now known as the Arts and Industries Building. This structure was opened in 1881 to provide the Smithsonian with its first proper facility for public display of the growing collections. [4]

The Institution grew slowly until 1964 when Sidney Dillon Ripley became secretary. Ripley managed to expand the institution by eight museums and increased admission from 10.8 million to 30 million people a year. [5] This period included the greatest and most rapid growth for the Smithsonian, and it continued until Ripley's resignation in 1984. [5] Since the completion of the Arts and Industries Building, the Smithsonian has expanded to twenty separate museums with roughly 137 million objects in their collections, including works of art, natural specimens, and cultural artifacts. [1] The Smithsonian museums are visited by over 25 million people every year. [1]

Museums

11 of the 20 Smithsonian Institution museums and galleries are at the National Mall in Washington D.C., the open-area national park in Washington, D.C. running between the Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capitol, with the Washington Monument providing a division slightly west of the center. [1] Six other Smithsonian museums including the National Zoo are located elsewhere in Washington. Two more Smithsonian museums are located in New York City and one is located in Chantilly, Virginia.

The Smithsonian also holds close ties with over 200 museums in all 50 states, as well as Panama and Puerto Rico. [1] These museums are known as Smithsonian Affiliates. Collections of artifacts are given to these museums in the form of long-term loans from the Smithsonian. These long-term loans are not the only Smithsonian exhibits outside the Smithsonian museums. The Smithsonian also has a large number of traveling exhibitions. Each year more than 50 exhibitions travel to hundreds of cities and towns all across the United States. [1]

Authorization to create two additional museums, National Museum of the American Latino and National Women's History Museum, passed congress in 2020 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. The museums have not yet been created and the Smithsonian has two years to select the museums’ locations on or near the National Mall. [6]

Institution [1] Type of collectionLocation [7] OpenedPictureRef.
Anacostia Community Museum African American culture Washington, D.C.
Anacostia
1967 Anacostia-Museum B&W.jpg [8]
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (affiliated with the Freer Gallery) Asian art Washington, D.C.
National Mall
1987 Sackler Gallery.jpg [9]
Arts and Industries Building Special event venue Washington, D.C.
National Mall
1881 20060327 094632 1.jpg [10]
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Design history New York City
Museum Mile
1897 CarnagieMansion.jpg [11]
Freer Gallery of Art (affiliated with the Sackler Gallery) Asian art Washington, D.C.
National Mall
1923 Freer Gallery.jpg [9]
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Contemporary and modern art Washington, D.C.
National Mall
1974 Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden - exterior.jpg [12]
National Air and Space Museum Aviation and spaceflight history Washington, D.C.
National Mall
1946,
1976 [note 1]
National Air and Space Museum on Independence Ave SW - Washington DC.jpg [13]
National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Aviation and spaceflight history Chantilly, Virginia 2003 StevenFUdvarHazy.png [14]
National Museum of African American History and Culture African-American history and culture Washington, D.C.
National Mall
2003,
2016 [note 1]
National Museum of African American History and Culture 2019.jpg [15] [16]
National Museum of African Art African art Washington, D.C.
National Mall
1964,
1987 [note 1]
National Museum of African Art, 2019.jpg [17]
National Museum of American History American history Washington, D.C.
National Mall
1964 National Museum of American History 1.jpg [18]
National Museum of the American Indian Native American history and art Washington, D.C.
National Mall
2004 National Museum of the American Indian.JPG [19] [20]
National Museum of the American Indian's George Gustav Heye Center Native American history and art New York City
Bowling Green
1994 Us-customhouse.jpg [19] [21]
National Museum of Natural History Natural history Washington, D.C.
National Mall
1858,
1911 [note 1]
National Museum of Natural History, Washington.jpg [22]
National Portrait Gallery Portraiture Washington, D.C.
Penn Quarter
1968 National Portrait Gallery.jpg [23] [24]
National Postal Museum United States Postal Service; postal history; philately Washington, D.C.
NoMa
1993 National Postal Museum-1.jpg [25]
Renwick Gallery American craft and decorative arts Washington, D.C.
Lafayette Square
1972 Renwick Gallery - Pennsylvania Avenue.JPG [26]
Smithsonian American Art Museum American art Washington, D.C.
Penn Quarter
1968 Smithsonian American Art Museum exterior 3.jpg [26]
Smithsonian Institution Building (The Castle) Visitor center and offices Washington, D.C.
National Mall
1855 Smithsonian Building NR.jpg [27]
National Zoological Park (National Zoo) Zoo Washington, D.C.
Rock Creek Park
1889 Washington Zoo entrance.jpg [28]
Notes
  1. 1 2 3 4 Year museum moved to current building
Interactive map

Related Research Articles

Smithsonian Institution Group of museums and research centers administered by the United States government

The Smithsonian Institution, also known simply as The Smithsonian, is a trust instrumentality, an organization established by the U.S. government as a public trust. It was founded on August 10, 1846, "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge" and is composed as a group of museums and research centers. The institution is named after its founding donor, British scientist James Smithson. It was originally organized as the "United States National Museum", but that name ceased to exist as an administrative entity in 1967.

National Mall United States historic place

The National Mall is a landscaped park within the National Mall and Memorial Parks, an official unit of the United States National Park System. It is located near the downtown area of Washington, D.C., the capital city of the United States, and is administered by the National Park Service (NPS) of the United States Department of the Interior.

National Air and Space Museum Aviation museum in Washington, D.C.

The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, also called the Air and Space Museum, is a museum in Washington, D.C., US. 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 2018, the museum saw approximately 6.2 million visitors, making it the fifth most visited museum in the world, and the second most visited museum in the United States. The museum contains the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia, 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'Wright Flyer airplane near the entrance.

National Gallery of Art National art museum in Washington, D.C., United States

The National Gallery of Art, and its attached Sculpture Garden, is a national art museum in Washington, D.C., United States, located on the National Mall, between 3rd and 9th Streets, at Constitution Avenue NW. Open to the public and free of charge, the museum was privately established in 1937 for the American people by a joint resolution of the United States Congress. Andrew W. Mellon donated a substantial art collection and funds for construction. The core collection includes major works of art donated by Paul Mellon, Ailsa Mellon Bruce, Lessing J. Rosenwald, Samuel Henry Kress, Rush Harrison Kress, Peter Arrell Browne Widener, Joseph E. Widener, and Chester Dale. The Gallery's collection of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculpture, medals, and decorative arts traces the development of Western Art from the Middle Ages to the present, including the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas and the largest mobile created by Alexander Calder.

Spencer Fullerton Baird

Spencer Fullerton Baird 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.

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery is an art museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., focusing on Asian art. The Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art together form the Smithsonian's national museums of Asian art in the United States. The Freer and Sackler galleries house the largest Asian art research library in the country.

Anacostia Community Museum Community museum in Washington, D.C.

The Anacostia Community Museum is a community museum in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C., in the United States. It is one of twenty museums under the umbrella of the Smithsonian Institution and was the first federally funded community museum in the United States. The museum, founded in 1967, was created with the intention to bring aspects of the Smithsonian museums, located on the National Mall, to the Anacostia neighborhood, with the hope that community members from the neighborhood would visit the main Smithsonian museums. It became federally funded in 1970 and focuses on the community in and around Anacostia in its exhibitions. This museum also houses a library.

Smithsonian Institution Building United States historic place

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 Norman Revival style and is nicknamed The Castle. It was completed in 1855 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.

National Museum of American History Museum in Washington, D.C., United States

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 Museum of Natural History Natural history museum in Washington, D.C.

The National Museum of Natural History is a natural history museum administered by the Smithsonian Institution, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., United States. It has free admission and is open 364 days a year. In 2016, with 7.1 million visitors, it was the eleventh most visited museum in the world and the most visited natural history museum in the world. Opened in 1910, the museum on the National Mall was one of the first Smithsonian buildings constructed exclusively to hold the national collections and research facilities. The main building has an overall area of 1.5 million square feet (140,000 m2) with 325,000 square feet (30,200 m2) of exhibition and public space and houses over 1,000 employees.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Art museum in D.C., on the National Mall

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is an art museum beside the National Mall, in Washington, D.C., the United States. The museum was initially endowed during the 1960s with the permanent art collection of Joseph H. Hirshhorn. It was designed by architect Gordon Bunshaft and is part of the Smithsonian Institution. It was conceived as the United States' museum of contemporary and modern art and currently focuses its collection-building and exhibition-planning mainly on the post–World War II period, with particular emphasis on art made during the last 50 years.

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Aviation museum in Virginia, United States

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, also called the Udvar-Hazy Center, is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM)'s annex at Washington Dulles International Airport in the Chantilly area of Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. It holds numerous exhibits, including the Space Shuttle Discovery, the Enola Gay, and the Gemini 7 space capsule.

Arts and Industries Building United States historic place

The Arts and Industries Building is the second oldest of the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Initially named the National Museum, it was built to provide the Smithsonian with its first proper facility for public display of its growing collections. The building, designed by architects Adolf Cluss and Paul Schulze, opened in 1881, hosting an inaugural ball for President James A. Garfield. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971. After being closed for renovation, the building will reopen in November 2021 for the Smithsonian's 175th anniversary exhibit, FUTURES. Since August 2016, the Director of the Art and Industries Building has been Rachel Goslins.

George Gustav Heye Center Museum in Manhattan, New York

The National Museum of the American Indian–New York, the George Gustav Heye Center, is a branch of the National Museum of the American Indian in Manhattan, New York City. The museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution. The Center features contemporary and historical exhibits of art and artifacts by and about Native Americans.

Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum in Washington, D.C., United States

The Smithsonian American Art Museum 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, while craft-focused exhibitions are shown in the Renwick Gallery.

National Museum of African Art

The National Museum of African Art is the Smithsonian Institution's African art museum, located on the National Mall of the United States capital. Its collections include 9,000 works of traditional and contemporary African art from both Sub-Saharan and North Africa, 300,000 photographs, and 50,000 library volumes. It was the first institution dedicated to African art in the United States and remains the largest collection. The Washington Post called the museum a mainstay in the international art world and the main venue for contemporary African art in the United States.

National Museum of African American History and Culture History museum in NW Washington, DC

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is a Smithsonian Institution museum located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in the United States. It was established in December 2003 and opened its permanent home in September 2016 with a ceremony led by President Barack Obama.

Smithsonian Libraries system of libraries at the Smithsonian Institution, United States

Smithsonian Libraries (SIL), formerly known as Smithsonian Institution Libraries, is a library system comprising 20 branch libraries serving the various Smithsonian Institution museums and research centers, as well as central support services which include a Book Conservation Laboratory and an Imaging Center. The Libraries serve Smithsonian Institution staff as well as the scholarly community and general public with information and reference support. Its collections number over 1.5 million volumes including 40,000 rare books and 2,000 manuscripts. The Libraries also holds the United States' largest trade literature collection, which includes over 300,000 commercial catalogs dating from the early nineteenth century and representing more than 30,000 companies.

Smithsonian Gardens

The Smithsonian Gardens, a division of the Smithsonian Institution, is responsible for the "landscapes, interiorscapes, and horticulture-related collections and exhibits", which serve as an outdoor extension of the Smithsonian's museums and learning spaces in Washington, D.C. Established in 1972 as a groundskeeping and horticulture program, Smithsonian Gardens currently manages 180 acres of gardens on the National Mall, 64,000 square feet of greenhouse production space, and the Archives of American Gardens, a research collection of over 60,000 photographs and archival records covering American landscape history from the 1870s to the present.

Smithsonian Affiliations

Smithsonian Affiliations is a division of the Smithsonian Institution that establishes long-term partnerships with non-Smithsonian museums and educational and cultural organizations, in order to share collections, exhibitions and educational strategies and conduct joint research.

References

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  6. Solly, Meilan. Congress Approves Smithsonian Museums Honoring Women and Latino Americans. Smithsonian Magazine. December 23, 2020. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  7. Maps and Directions. The Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved February 21, 2011
  8. Mission and History Anacostia Community Museum. Retrieved December 6, 2009
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  10. Arts and Industries Building. The Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved December 26, 2015.
  11. About The Museum Archived March 10, 2009, at the Wayback Machine . Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Retrieved December 6, 2009
  12. History of the Hirshhorn Archived September 28, 2008, at the Wayback Machine . Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Retrieved December 6, 2009
  13. National Air and Space Museum Chronology Archived July 26, 2012, at WebCite . National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved December 6, 2009
  14. Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved February 25, 2010
  15. About Us Archived March 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine . National Museum of African American History and Culture. Retrieved February 25, 2010
  16. Building The Museum, Overview. National Museum of African American History and Culture. Retrieved January 10, 2010
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  18. Mission and History. National Museum of American History. Retrieved February 14, 2018
  19. 1 2 About the National Museum of the American Indian Archived February 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine . National Museum of the American Indian. Retrieved February 25, 2010
  20. 20,000 American Indians March at National Museum Opening. National Geographic News. September 21, 2004. Retrieved December 29, 2009
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  22. A Brief History. National Museum of Natural History Museum History. Retrieved February 21, 2011
  23. Visiting the Museum, A Brief Overview: History with Personality. National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved February 25, 2010
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  25. History of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum Archived April 22, 2012, at WebCite . National Postal Museum. Retrieved December 29, 2009
  26. 1 2 About the American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery, History of the Museum Collection Archived August 20, 2014, at the Wayback Machine . Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retrieved December 29, 2009
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  28. History of the National Zoo. National Zoological Park. Retrieved December 29, 2009