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.


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Today in Smithsonian History

Interior and Exterior of Patent Office Building 1891

July 27, 1862

The charter of the National Institute (1840-1862) expires, and in accordance with its act of incorporation, the remainder of its library and museum is delivered by the Secretary of the Interior to the Smithsonian Institution. Before the organization of the Smithsonian, the National Institute held the personal effects of James Smithson with a view to its gaining control of the Smithson bequest. The transfer also includes the collections of John Varden's museum, including art works.More

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