Smithsonian Institution(redirected from National Museum of the United States)
Also found in: Dictionary.
See The Official Guide to the Smithsonian (2002).
one of the largest scientific research and cultural centers in the USA. The Smithsonian Institution was founded in Washington, D.C., in 1846 by a special act of Congress to use the funds bequeathed by the British chemist and mineralogist J. Smithson (1765–1829) “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” It includes the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of History and Technology, both founded in 1846, which house 60 million items in anthropology, botany, zoology, entomology, paleobiology, mineralogy, the history of science and technology, civil and military history, art, and folk art. Other bureaus include the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, the National Gallery of Art, the National Zoological Park, and other scientific institutions. The Smithsonian Institution conducts extensive publishing operations, and its bureaus publish yearly collections of scholarly works and monographs.
The Smithsonian Establishment consists of the president and vice-president of the US, the secretaries of state, the treasury, and defense, the chief justice, and other officials. The presiding officer ex officio is the president. [23–1831–]