The Smithsonian at the Turn of the Century
What was the Smithsonian Institution like at the turn of the 20th century?

       Founded in 1846 from a bequest by James Smithson, the Institution had grown steadily in its first half-century. The Smithsonian's operations were carried on in buildings on the National Mall and at the National Zoological Park in Rock Creek Park, described as being a pleasant carriage ride from the city. Scientists conducted research in natural history and chemistry laboratories, exhibits on American art, history and natural history filled the halls, publications were exchanged with research institutions worldwide, and a growing collection of live animals drew visitors to the National Zoo. The Smithsonian was headed by Secretary Samuel P. Langley, an astrophysicist who was also greatly interested in human flight. Visitors flocked to the National Museum from throughout the world and a "Children's Room" was created to attract and entrance the young. Although smaller, the Smithsonian carried out the same mandate for "the increase and diffusion of knowledge" that guides it into the 21st century.

Smithsonian Institution Building, North Front In 1900 the Smithsonian Institution's buildings consisted of the Smithsonian Institution Building, the "Castle," which was completed in 1855 . . .
. . . the United States National Museum Building, now known as the Arts and Industries Building, which opened in 1881 . . .Arts and Industries Building, North Front
School children at the Zoo . . . the National Zoological Park, founded in 1889 and opened in Rock Creek Park in 1891. . .
. . . and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory which was established in 1890 in the South Yard behind the Castle.Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in the South Yard


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~ Beginning ~ Smithsonian Institution Building and the Mall ~ United States National Museum ~
~ National Zoological Park ~ Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory ~
~ Langley and the Aerodrome ~ Pan-American Exposition ~ Facts & Figures ~
~ Printable Version of this Page ~


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