A Powerhouse in the Attic

Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact photos@si.edu.


  • Article profiles S. Dillon Ripley, the eighth secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Writing when Ripley has been in office for two years, the author details innovations already put into place by Ripley, such as installation of a sidewalk café and extension of museum hours. A well-traveled and adventurous former Office of Strategic Services bureau chief during World War II, Ripley is known foremost as a celebrated ornithologist. Author of a number of books on birds, Ripley continues to conduct his own research and extols the value of scientific study, particularly in areas not deemed important by some.
  • Ripley expresses his desire to integrate the Smithsonian more with the academic world and to present more meaningful exhibits to the public. Background is given on the Smithsonian Institution, along with biographical information on its founder, James Smithson. Mentions are made of the forthcoming Armed Forces Museum, National Collection of Fine Arts, and National Portrait Gallery.


  • Ripley, Sidney Dillon 1913-2001
  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • National Portrait Gallery (U.S.)
  • National Collection of Fine Arts
  • Office of Strategic Services


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Includes photograph of Smithsonian Secretary S. Dillon Ripley standing by portrait of first Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry, who is misidentified in the caption as third Secretary Samuel Pierpont Langley.

Contained within

Life Vol. 59 (Journal)

Contact information

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


November 19, 1965


  • Animals
  • Education
  • Secretaries
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Birds
  • Museums
  • Management
  • Philosophy
  • Military
  • Biography
  • Museums--Philosophy
  • Ornithologists
  • Ornithology
  • Museums--Educational aspects
  • Armed Forces
  • Management--Museums


Washington (D.C.)

Physical description

Number of pages: 3; Page numbers: 98-102

Full Record

View Full Record