Every Collection has a Story. The 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.

Capturing, preserving, and sharing the history of the Smithsonian Institution

Explore the history of the Smithsonian Institution:

"Statue of Freedom" in A&I Rotunda

December 15, 1890

The Statue of Freedom, the plaster figure used to cast the statue atop of the U.S. Capitol, is given to the Smithsonian Institution and placed in the Rotunda of the U.S. National Museum, known now as the Arts and Industries Building. The statue, designed by sculptor Thomas Crawford in Rome, first came to Washington, D.C., in 1858, and was placed in the old hall of the House of Representatives, then in the basement of the Capitol. The statue is moved from the Rotunda in 1967.

See More Historic Events