Smithsonian Institution

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Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian Institution Building or "Castle" on the National Mall serves as the Institution's headquarters.The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institution and associated museum complex, with most of its facilities in Washington, D.C. It consists of 19 museums and seven research centers, and has 142 million items in its collections. It is administered and funded by the government of the United States.

A monthly magazine published by the Smithsonian Institution is also named Smithsonian.

History
The Smithsonian Institution was founded for the promotion and dissemination of knowledge by a bequest to the United States by the British scientist James Smithson (17651829). In 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 "Establishment for the increase & 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 ($9,235,277 in 2005 U.S. dollars after inflation).

Act of Congress: Eight years later, Congress passed an act establishing the Smithsonian Institution, a typically American hybrid public/private partnership, and the act was signed into Smithsonian Institutionlaw on August 10, 1846 by James Polk. (See 20 U.S.C. 41 (Ch. 178, Sec. 1, 9 Stat. 102).) The bill was drafted by Indiana Democratic Congressman Robert Dale Owen, a Socialist and son of Robert Owen, the father of the cooperative movement.

The castellated architecture of the Smithsonian Institution Building on the National Mall has made it known informally as "The Castle". It was built by architect James Renwick, Jr. and completed in 1855. Many of the other buildings are also historical and architectural landmarks.

The voyage of the US Navy circumnavigating the globe between 1838 and 1842 amassed thousands of animal specimens, an herbarium of 50,000 examples, shells and minerals, tropical birds, jars of seawater and ethnographic specimens from the South Pacific.

The military and civilian surveys in the American West assembled many Native American artifacts as well as natural history specimens.

The Institution became a magnet for natural scientists from 1857 to 1866, who formed a group called the Megatherium Club.

The asteroid 3773 Smithsonian is named in honor of the Institution.

Administration
The Smithsonian Institution is established as a trust by act of Congress, and it is functionally and legally a body of the federal government. More than two-thirds of the Smithsonian's workforce of some 6,300 persons are employees of the federal government. The Smithsonian is represented by attorneys from the United States Department of Justice in litigation, and money judgments against the Smithsonian are also paid out of the federal treasury.

Federal courts have furthermore concluded that the Smithsonian is part of the United States government within the meaning of such statutes as the Tucker Act and the Federal Tort Claims Act. It is also treated as part of the United States government when defending against copyright infringement claims, which means that such actions must be brought before the United States Court of Federal Claims.1.

The nominal head of the Institution is the Chancellor, an office which has always been held by the current Chief Justice of the United States. The affairs of the Smithsonian are conducted by its 17-member board of regents, eight members of which constitute a quorum for the conduct of business. Eight of the regents are United States officials: the Vice President (one of his few official legal duties) and the Chief Justice of the United States, three United States Senators appointed by the Vice President in his capacity as President of the Senate, and three Members of the U.S. House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House. The remaining nine regents are "persons other than Members of Congress," who are appointed by joint resolution of Congress. Regents are allowed reimbursement for their expenses in connection with attendance at meetings, but their service as regents is uncompensated. The day-to-day operations of the Smithsonian are supervised by a salaried "Secretary" chosen by the board of regents.

Secretaries of the Smithsonian
Joseph Henry, 18461878
Spencer Fullerton Baird, 18781887
Samuel Pierpont Langley, 18871906
Charles Doolittle Walcott, 19071927
Charles Greeley Abbot, 19281944
Alexander Wetmore, 19441952
Leonard Carmichael, 19531964
Sidney Dillon Ripley, 19641984
Robert McCormick Adams, 19841994
I. Michael Heyman, 19941999
Lawrence M. Small, 2000
See The Secretaries of the Smithsonian Institution.

Smithsonian museums
Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Arts and Industries Building
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
Freer Gallery of Art
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
National Air and Space Museum
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (annex at Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia)
National Museum of African Art
National Museum of American History
National Museum of the American Indian
National Museum of Natural History
National Portrait Gallery
National Postal Museum
National Zoo (Smithsonian National Zoological Park)
S. Dillon Ripley Center
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Smithsonian Institution Building
The National Gallery of Art is affiliated with the Smithsonian, but it is run by a separate charter.




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