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A Look into the Smithsonian Museum

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Victoria Frank, Sports Editor

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The Smithsonian Museum is a widely known institution with nineteen museums and nine research centers located around the world. The Smithsonian museums help to educate and experience the past. The first museum opened in 1855 and now has spread throughout the years by various contributions. In 2014 the Smithsonian documented over 31 million visits with over five million visiting traveling museums.

British scientist James Smithson in 1829 left his wealth to his nephew Henry James Hungerford. When Hungerford died without family in 1835, the estate was left to “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge among men”, in accordance with Smithson’s will.

The Smithsonian collections include 137 million artifacts with 127 million scientific specimens, and more than 340,000 art pieces, with nearly two million library volumes, 137,000 cubic feet of archival material and more than 2,000 live animals.

In addition to the museums around the world the Smithsonian also is the owner of various websites. The Smithsonian creates and operates over 270 million websites with millions of people looking up various information. There are more than eight and a half million  records and nearly one million images are available to the public through our main website’s Collections Search Center, which is used by more than one million people.

Also, the Smithsonian also caters their own magazine called Smithsonian. The beginning of the magazine was started when Edward K. Thompson, the retired editor of Life magazine, was asked by the then-Secretary of the Smithsonian, S. Dillon Ripley, to produce a magazine “about things in which the Smithsonian [Institution] is interested, might be interested or ought to be interested.” By 1974, circulation had nearly quadrupled, to 635,000, and it reached the one million milestone in 1975—one of the most successful launches of its time.

Furthermore, “Smithsonian continuing partnership with the ePals global community enables us to offer our lesson plans and resources to more than one million schools. The Smithsonian Learning Center within ePals has had more than 3.3 million visitors and 8.2 million page views, including more than 410,000 downloads of classroom work based on Smithsonian content,” in 2015.

The Smithsonian has 6,500 dedicated employees, including award-winning scientists and scholars, curators, researchers, historians, and experts in fields from astrophysics to zoology, as well as more than 6,200 generous volunteers, 745 Fellows, 709 interns, and 789 research associates.

According to the 2015 budget report, “the Smithsonian’s request to fund operating expenses and revitalization of the Institution’s physical infrastructure is $850.9 million. The amounts include $700.8 million for Salaries and Expenses (S&E) and $150.1 million for the Facilities Capital account.”

The Smithsonian is a well-known collection of institutions that allow the public to enjoy ancient artifacts, artworks, and experience history itself. Some of the most well-known objects and treasures include;  Morse’s telegraph; Edison’s light bulb; the Star-Spangled Banner; the Hope Diamond; the Wright Flyer; Amelia Earhart’s plane; Louis Armstrong’s trumpet; the jacket of labor leader Cesar Chavez; the Lansdowne portrait of George Washington; the Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Japanese American World War II veterans; the Spirit of Tuskegee airplane, used to train Tuskegee Airmen during World War II; the camera John Glenn purchased at a drug store and used on his historic voyage into space; Asian, African, and American art; the Apollo 11 Command Module, Columbia; and the space shuttle Discovery.

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A Look into the Smithsonian Museum