Smithsonian Museum Opens




Date: December 1858


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The museum in the Smithsonian Institution Building or Castle, later known as the U.S. National Museum, opens to the public. In 1857, the United States Exploring Expedition or Wilkes Expedition collections had been transferred from the Patent Office to the Smithsonian.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)
  • United States National Museum
  • United States Exploring Expedition (USEE)
  • United States Patent Office


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Woodcut engraving of the Museum in the Great Hall of the Smithsonian Castle was first printed in the 1857 guidebook by William J. Rhees, "An Account of the Smithsonian Institution." Smithsonian Institution Archives, negative number 75-12247.
  • Washington Star, November 13, 1858 (p. 3, col. 1) and December 29, 1858 (p. 3, col. 1).

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


December 1858


  • Exhibitions
  • National Collections

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