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In his annual report for the year 1856, Secretary of the Smithsonian Joseph Henry complained that Congress had not provided money in the Smithsonian's budget to maintain the Institution's grounds. As a result, he said that the area around the…

In his will, James Smithson left his estate to his nephew or his nephew's children. In the event that his nephew died without any children, Smithson's fortune was to go to the United States government for "an establishment for the increase and…

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Visitors to the Mall during the 1950s-1970s may have encountered large rockets that lined the west side of the Smithsonian Arts and Industries building. Called "Rocket Row," this outdoor exhibit accommodated large objects before the National Air and…

Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian, and his family lived in the Smithsonian Institution Building, also called the Castle, from 1855 to 1878. This photograph, taken in 1862, shows Mr. Henry along with the whole family: Harriet…

The grounds surrounding the National Museum of the American Indian are an extension of the exhibit space within. Representing what local Chesapeake Bay landscapes would have been like before European contact, the space pays tribute to indigenous…

Plans for a National Sculpture Garden on the Mall began in the 1960s, but it was not until 1991 that jurisdiction for the site was transferred from the National Park Service to the National Gallery. Olin Partnership, headed by Laurie D. Olin,…

In the 1920s, art collector and financier Andrew Mellon decided that the city needed a proper museum of art to rival those in Europe. With construction funds, a sizable endowment, and art all donated from Mellon, construction on the National Gallery…

When Andrew Mellon donated his collection to form the National Gallery of Art in the 1930s, he asked Congress to reserve land near to the Gallery for future expansion. By the 1960s, the Gallery needed that expansion. With funding from the Andrew…

The National Museum of African American History and Culture was established by an Act of Congress in 2003 and is the only national museum devoted to African American life. The goals of the museum are: to educate about African American history and…

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum serves as a memorial to the thousands of people murdered during the Holocaust, and to teach about the need to prevent genocide worldwide. Suggested by the President’s Commission on the Holocaust in 1979,…
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