Historic Pictures of the Smithsonian Institution

Welcome to the Smithsonian of yesterday. This site will take you on a visual tour of the Smithsonian Institution from its founding to today, from the museums on the Mall in Washington, D.C., to museums in New York City, astrophysical observatories in Massachusetts and Arizona, a tropical biology station in Panama, a marine biology station in Florida, to an environmental research center on the Chesapeake Bay. These images will give you a look "behind the scenes" at the Institution and a look back at its past.

The Historic Pictures of the Smithsonian Institution website was created by Jennifer A. Nichols of the Institutional History Division, with assistance by Pamela M. Henson. To learn more about the Institutional History Division and its programs or about the history of the Smithsonian Institution, visit the Institutional History Division homepage.

All of these images come from the collections of the Smithsonian Institution Archives. The SIA contains all of the records of the history of the Institution from its founding. These images are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without the permission of the Smithsonian Institution Archives. This site gives you a glimpse of the many images preserved in our collections. Copyright and citation information is available for each image.

The images are presented in thumbnail format to reduce downloading time. If you click on the image, a full screen version will appear. All images may be ordered from the Smithsonian's Office of Imaging, Printing and Photographic Services.

Nearly all Smithsonian Institution museums and research centers are listed below and grouped by discipline. Those not currently represented in this collection will be added as more photographs are uncovered. Click on the image map, on the list of museums and research centers, or on the photo album to begin your tour.


Map of mall
American History Natural History Museum National Zoological Park American Art/ Renwick Gallery American Art/ Renwick Gallery National Portrait Gallery Freer Sackler African Art Smithsonian Institution Building Arts & Industries Arts & Industries Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden National Air and Space Museum South Yard Anacostia Museum Freer Sackler Freer Sackler Festival of American Folklife Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Cooper-Hewitt, National Museum of Design Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute National Postal Museum National Postal Museum

General SmithsonianThe Humanities
Smithsonian Institution Building, "Castle"Anacostia Museum
Interior of the CastleCenter for Folklife Programs & Cultural Studies
The South YardNational Air and Space Museum
Arts & Industries BuildingNational Museum of American History
National Postal Museum




The ArtsThe Sciences
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design MuseumNational Museum of Natural History
Freer Gallery of Art
and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
National Zoological Park
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture GardenSmithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
National Museum of African Art
Smithsonian Environmental Reserch Center
Smithsonian American Art Museum
and the Renwick Gallery
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
National Portrait Gallery


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This page updated: 9/07/2007
Smithsonian Institution Archives,
Institutional History Division
SIHistory@si.edu