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The Columbian Institute was a Washington organization dedicated to the promotion of the arts and sciences for the benefit of the nation. In 1820, two years after their official charter was approved by Congress, the Institute was granted five acres of…

The Smithsonian Institution celebrated its 150th birthday in 1996 with special exhibits and multi-day celebration on the Mall. There were multiple stages set up, with daytime performances from a wide variety of performers. On August 10 there was a…

Henry was a noted scientist in the United States when he was selected to serve as the first Secretary, or chief executive officer, of the new Smithsonian Institution in 1846. He served for 30 years, developing the new museum as a center for research,…

The Aircraft Building was constructed in 1917 for the use of the US Signal Service during World War I. After the war ended, the building was transferred to the Smithsonian. It opened to the public in October 1920 as an exhibit space housing aircraft.…

William Temple Hornaday was a hunter, taxidermist, zoo director, and a founder of the American conservation movement. He served as Chief Taxidermist of the United States National Museum from 1882, Curator of the Department of Living Animals, and the…

A bear, an eagle, badgers, and buffaloes comprised the original exhibition of the Department of Living Animals on the south side of the Smithsonian Institution Building. Opened to the public in 1887, the Department's live exhibits gave Smithsonian…

In July of 1976 Queen Elizabeth II came to the US to commemorate the Bicentennial of the American Revolution. One of her stops while in Washington, DC, was the Smithsonian Institution Building, or the “Castle,” and the National Mall. The night…

Now called the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the first Festival of American Folklife was created by Secretary of the Smithsonian S. Dillon Ripley and James R. Morris. Smithsonian Secretary Dillon Ripley wanted to change museums from stuffy…

On Presidents' Day 1979 a 22-inch blizzard shut down Washington, DC. Forecasters had predicted that the storm would bypass the city, so residents and city planners were taken by surprise. For the first time in fifty years, the Smithsonian museums…

James Renwick, Jr began work on the original Smithsonian Institution building in 1847. Renwick's design was inspired by western European structures originally built in the 1100s, making this Gothic Revival building look like a castle. When…
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