Smithsonian Day is celebrated annually on September 17. It’s a national day where participating museums, zoos, and cultural centers across the United States provide free entry to anyone presenting a Museum Day ticket. This event is hosted by the ‘Smithsonian’ magazine. To get a ticket, people have to select a museum and download it from a ‘Smithsonian’ magazine. The full list of participating museums can be seen on the ‘Smithsonian’ magazine’s website, with more museums signing up every day.
History of Smithsonian Day
The Smithsonian Institution developed from 1765 to 1829. The project was by James Smithson, a British scientist who donated his estate at Washington to the United States. In 1849, construction began. An architect, James Renwick Jr. designed the project, and its interiors were by a contractor Gilbert Cameron. In 1855, the building opened.
On August 10, 1846, the U.S. Senate passed the act to endorse the Smithsonian Institution, signed into law by President James K. Polk. Although Congress authorized acceptance of the Smithson bequest on July 1, 1836, it still took 10 years of deliberation before the Smithsonian. Once established, the museum became part of developing a national identity rooted in exploration and innovation.
The Smithsonian’s first secretary, Joseph Henry, had intended the museum to be a center for scientific research. It also became the depository for various Washington and U.S. government collections — the United States Exploring Expedition by the U.S. Navy went around the world between 1838 and 1842 the voyage amassed thousands of specimens and artifacts. They all became part of the Smithsonian collections.
The institution soon became irresistible to young scientists from 1857 to 1866, who formed the Megatherium Club. The Smithsonian played a crucial role in furthering science. The Smithsonian’s first expansion came with the construction of the Arts and Industries Building in 1881 and The National Zoological Park in 1889 to accommodate the Smithsonian’s Department of Living Animals. Many more extensions came after. Since more than 175 years ago, the Smithsonian has become the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex. It has 21 museums, the National Zoo, and nine research facilities.
Smithsonian Day timeline
The United States Senate passes the act officiating the Smithsonian Institution.
Construction begins on the Smithsonian Building.
The Smithsonian museum officially opens.
The extension of the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building starts.
Smithsonian Day FAQs
How did the Smithsonian get its name?
The institution was named after its founding donor, British scientist James Smithson.
Is the Smithsonian the largest museum in the world?
The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex.
What kind of magazine is the ‘Smithsonian?’
The ‘Smithsonian’ magazine is a journal.
Smithsonian Day Activities
Visit a museum
You can visit any of the many museums posted on the Smithsonian website by downloading a ticket. Museums sections have a wide range, from art to war to music there is something for everyone.
Read a book published by the Smithsonian Institution
A way to celebrate Smithsonian Day is by reading any books published by it. The institution has published many books, so find one that interests you and get right to it.
Tell a friend about Smithsonian Day
If you know someone clueless about this annual event, be a good citizen and fill them in on it. They can even go along with you to the museum.
5 Interesting Facts About The Smithsonian
A nuclear war exhibit stirred controversy
The plane that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima during the Second World War is on show.
The Smithsonian displays 1% of their collection
The institution’s various artifacts, specimens, and arcana have an official estimate of 154 million.
James Smithson never visited America
The benevolent donor whose contributions helped start the museum never set foot in the U.S.
Smithson’s body rests in the museum
His body was preserved and brought to the Smithsonian.
They hid their collection during the war
During the Second World War, to protect their collection from soldiers, they hid the art.
Why We Love Smithsonian Day
We remember the Smithsonian museum
We’re reminded about the museum that contains some of the the world’s most precious historical artifacts. We learn about our country, our ancestors, and remarkable works of art.
We meet new people
Smithsonian Day allows us to meet new people and discuss thoughts and opinions. Today, everyone is likely to make a new friend.
We spend time with family and friends
The day is an exciting opportunity to spend time with family and friends. A day at the museum often translates to a day spent with loved ones.
Smithsonian Day dates