Monday, June 27, 2011

Ever Been To The Smithsonian...?


As a teen, I had the chance to go through this magical place...or at least a small part of it!

The museum is such a large complex I really don't think you could see it all in a week! I would love to see it again someday! I never thought much about the origin of this wonder, and when I looked it up I was totally surprised!

This story, compliments of History.com, is a long one but I think it's worth the time it takes to read it! See if you don't agree!

Jun 27, 1829:
Smithson's curious bequest

In Genoa, Italy, English scientist James Smithson dies after a long illness, leaving behind a will with a peculiar footnote. In the event that his only nephew died without any heirs, Smithson decreed that the whole of his estate would go to "the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge." Smithson's curious bequest to a country that he had never visited aroused significant attention on both sides of the Atlantic.

Smithson had been a fellow of the venerable Royal Society of London from the age of 22, publishing numerous scientific papers on mineral composition, geology, and chemistry. In 1802, he overturned popular scientific opinion by proving that zinc carbonates were true carbonate minerals, and one type of zinc carbonate was later named smithsonite in his honor.

Six years after his death, his nephew, Henry James Hungerford, indeed died without children, and on July 1, 1836, the U.S. Congress authorized acceptance of Smithson's gift. President Andrew Jackson sent diplomat Richard Rush to England to negotiate for transfer of the funds, and two years later Rush set sail for home with 11 boxes containing a total of 104,960 gold sovereigns, eight shillings, and seven pence, as well as Smithson's mineral collection, library, scientific notes, and personal effects. After the gold was melted down, it amounted to a fortune worth well over $500,000. After considering a series of recommendations, including the creation of a national university, a public library, or an astronomical observatory, Congress agreed that the bequest would support the creation of a museum, a library, and a program of research, publication, and collection in the sciences, arts, and history. On August 10, 1846, the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution was signed into law by President James K. Polk.

Today, the Smithsonian is composed of 19 museums including the recently announced National Museum of African American History and Culture, nine research centers throughout the United States and the world and the national zoo. Besides the original Smithsonian Institution Building, popularly known as the "Castle," visitors to Washington, D.C., tour the National Museum of Natural History, which houses the natural science collections, the National Zoological Park, and the National Portrait Gallery. The National Museum of American History houses the original Star-Spangled Banner and other artifacts of U.S. history. The National Air and Space Museum has the distinction of being the most visited museum in the world, exhibiting marvels of aviation and space history such as the Wright brothers' plane and Freedom 7, the space capsule that took the first American into space. John Smithson, the Smithsonian Institution's great benefactor, is interred in a tomb in the Smithsonian Building.

I have to admit, some of the images from that visit are still with me! Such as seeing the "Spirit of St. Louis" and so much more! Guess I have one more thing to add to my bucket list, right?

Why don't we get some fresh coffee and go out to the patio? It's hot, but we are in Texas!

11 comments:

Ben in Texas said...

Only been once myself and of course while attending classes in Leesburg for Xerox that was not enough. Maybe you need to come up here and we can drive Tortuga up and spend a week?

Spud said...

Good damn thing it didn't happen with todays congress.

They would put those funds straight into the budget to disappear...

Sixbears said...

It's the only major attraction for me going to DC. Haven't been and I know I'd love it.

Momlady said...

Visited the Space museum once. I think it would take at least a month to visit everything and I don't want to spend that much time in D.C.

Baby Sis said...

Bubba -

It's on my bucket list as well. Maybe someday you and I canswing by, get Ben and do this thing. Let's how 'em how Texans know how to respect American history -

Big hugs -

edifice rex said...

I've been twice and have seen most of the Museums but missed the National Portrait Gallery and Zoo. The museums are a favorite memory of mine; just unbelievable. I remember the Hope Diamond was on display the last time I visited the Museum of Natural History. LOVE that place. I would still love to go back and see it all again!

JoJo said...

Very interesting, I have never been there, I bet it would be a great place to visit. I went thru D.C. once and didn't care much for what I saw. Don't know that I would want to go back.

TROUBLEnTX said...

I sooo agree with Spud. And to me, it's amazing that it is still growing. Someone is doing something right.

Ted said...

I was going to ask spud if he had ever considered professional help for his mental problem. than all of a sudden I didn't see his problem!

Stephanie in AR said...

I would love to go see those museums one day.

Spud said...

Ted

For many years a shrink at the VA tried to analyze my PTSD. In the end he came to the conclusion that there was nothing to be done. I was incurably sane.

I knew that.

It's the world at large which is insane...