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.  

Joel Roberts Poinsett

May 15, 1840

The National Institution for the Promotion of Science is organized "to promote science and the useful arts, and to establish a national museum of natural history. . ." Its organizers, including Joel R. Poinsett, hope to secure control of the James Smithson bequest. The National Institution later changes its name to the National Institute. Their collections are transferred to the Smithsonian Institution in the 1850s.

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