Every Collection has a StoryThe Archives holds records that document the Smithsonian’s people, events, buildings, and research. The history of the Smithsonian is a vital part of the history of American experience, scientific exploration, and international cultural understanding.


Latest Forum Topic

Get updates on our amazing collections!

Today in Smithsonian History

Langley Aerodrome No. 5, by Bell, Alexander Graham 1847-1922, May 6, 1896, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, SIA2012-3092 and A18864 and A18868a.

May 6, 1896

Secretary Samuel Pierpont Langley launches his "aerodrome," an early attempt at a flying machine, along the Potomac River.  Catapulted from a houseboat, the aerodrome quickly crashes into the river.  Langley was never successful in his attempts to invent the first airplane.More

Featured Exhibit