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.
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
The Smithsonian’s Second Secretary Spencer Fullerton Baird dedicated his career to creating a great national museum at the Smithsonian, the U.S. National Museum that opened in 1881. Learn about Baird and the fulfillment of his dreams.