What are the Smithsonian Museums?
The Smithsonian Museums, also referred to as the Smithsonian Institution, is a complex of research and educational institutions and museums. It is composed of nineteen museums and galleries, nine research centers, and a zoo that are all managed by the United States government. Located in Washington D.C, it is open to the public every day except on Christmas Day. The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex, with over 154 million objects, artworks, and specimens.
History of the Smithsonian Museums
The Smithsonian Institution was established in 1846 by James Smithson, a British scientist who left his entire fortune to the United States to establish an “establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men”. After years of legal battles, his bequest was finally accepted by Congress, and the Smithsonian Institution was created.
Initially, the Smithsonian was just a research institution, and the first museum wasn’t established until 1857. Today, the institution has grown to include a vast network of museums and research centers.
The Smithsonian Museums are a diverse collection of institutions, each with a unique focus and exhibitions. Here is a list of some of the Smithsonian’s most popular museums:
National Museum of American History
The National Museum of American History is dedicated to exploring American history, culture, and life. The museum’s collection includes everything from the original Star-Spangled Banner to the First Ladies’ Inaugural Gowns.
National Air and Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum is focused on aviation and space exploration. It houses the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world, including the Wright Brothers’ Wright Flyer, the Spirit of St. Louis, and the Apollo 11 Command Module.
National Museum of Natural History
The National Museum of Natural History is dedicated to exploring the natural world. The museum’s collection includes over 145 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, and human cultural artifacts.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the newest Smithsonian museum, having opened in 2016. It explores the history and culture of African Americans, from slavery to the present day, using over 37,000 objects in its collection.
National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery is dedicated to exploring the history and impact of Americans through portraiture. The collection includes over 23,000 works of art, from the earliest days of portraiture to contemporary works.
Smithsonian Research Centers
The Smithsonian Institution also operates nine research centers, each focused on a different subject. The centers conduct research and studies on a wide range of topics, from astrophysics to anthropology.
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory studies astrophysics and other fields related to the study of the universe.
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute focuses on wildlife conservation and preservation.
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center studies the impact of human activities on ecosystems and the environment.
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute conducts research on tropical ecosystems, including the rainforest and coral reefs.
What is the Smithsonian Museum?
The Smithsonian Museum is the largest complex of museums and research centers in the world. It is located in Washington, D.C., and is named after James Smithson, who left his fortune to the United States for the “increase and diffusion of knowledge.”
What museums are part of the Smithsonian Institution?
There are 19 museums and galleries that are part of the Smithsonian Institution, including the National Museum of American History, National Museum of Natural History, National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Do I have to pay to visit the Smithsonian museums?
No, admission to all Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo is free. However, there may be fees for special exhibits or programs.
Are the museums open all year?
Most of the Smithsonian museums are open every day of the year except for December 25th. However, operating hours can vary, so it is always best to check the website before your visit.
Can I take photographs in the museums?
Photography is allowed in most areas of the museums for personal, non-commercial use. However, there may be restrictions in certain exhibits or galleries, and the use of tripods or flash may be prohibited.
How long does it take to visit all the Smithsonian museums?
It is impossible to see everything in one day, but many visitors choose to focus on one or two museums that interest them the most. A typical visit to a museum can range from 2-4 hours, depending on the exhibits and programs you choose to see.
Are the Smithsonian museums accessible to people with disabilities?
All Smithsonian museums and facilities are fully accessible to visitors with disabilities. There are wheelchair and stroller rentals available, as well as sign language interpreters and audio-described tours.
Can I bring food and drinks into the museums?
Food and drinks are not allowed in the exhibition areas of the museums, but there are designated areas for eating and drinking throughout the facilities.
Is there parking available at the Smithsonian museums?
Parking is limited in Washington, D.C., and visitors are encouraged to take public transportation or use nearby parking garages. However, there are parking garages located near most of the Smithsonian museums for those who choose to drive.
Can I buy souvenirs at the Smithsonian museums?
Each museum has a gift shop where visitors can purchase books, toys, jewelry, and other souvenirs related to the museum’s exhibits and collections.
What events and programs are available at the Smithsonian museums?
The Smithsonian museums offer a variety of educational programs and events for all ages, including lectures, workshops, and hands-on activities. Check the website or inquire at the information desk for upcoming events and programs.
How can I support the work of the Smithsonian Institution?
The Smithsonian Institution is a non-profit organization and relies on donations and support from individuals, corporations, and foundations. You can support the Smithsonian by making a donation or becoming a member of the Smithsonian Associates program.
The Smithsonian Museums are a collection of museums and research centers located in Washington, D.C., United States. The collection includes 19 museums, galleries, and a zoo with a total of over 154 million artifacts, specimens, and works of art. In this guide, we will explore what the Smithsonian Museums are, their history, and how to plan your visit to the museums.
What are the Smithsonian Museums?
The Smithsonian Museums are a diverse collection of museums and research centers that is operated by the United States government. The museums of the Smithsonian feature an array of collections in various fields including art, science, history, and culture. With over 137 million objects and specimens across its 19 museums and galleries, the Smithsonian Museums are one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of art and artifacts in the world.
The History of the Smithsonian Museums
The Smithsonian Museum was founded in 1846 with a bequest by Englishman James Smithson, who left his estate to the United States to establish “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” A library and museum were founded two years later and the current National Museum of Natural History opened in 1910. Since then, the Smithsonian Institution has grown to include world-class museums and research centers, dedicated to educating visitors and preserving the world’s natural and cultural heritage.
Planning Your Visit to the Smithsonian Museums
There are a few things you should consider when planning your visit to the Smithsonian Museums. First, you should decide which museums you would like to visit as there are 19 museums and galleries to choose from. Each museum has its own unique collection and exhibits, so it is worthwhile to research beforehand which museums and exhibits are of particular interest to you.
Another thing to consider when planning your visit to the Smithsonian Museums is the time of year you plan to visit. The peak season is during the summer months, so if you can, try to visit during the off-season to avoid large crowds. Additionally, many of the museums of the Smithsonian are open 364 days a year with free admission, making it easy to plan your visit around your schedule.
It is also important to note that security at the museums of the Smithsonian is strict, so allowing plenty of time to enter the museums is key, especially during busy seasons.
The Smithsonian Museums are an incredible and vast collection of museums and research facilities that cater to all interests and audiences. From art and history to science and culture, the Smithsonian Museums have something for everyone. With proper planning and knowledge, visiting the Smithsonian Museums can be a truly memorable and educational experience for all.
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