Secretary S. Dillon Ripley Retires After Twenty Years of Innovation

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Article is a fond farewell to S. Dillion Ripley on the occasion of his retirement in September 1984 after serving 20 years as the eighth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. The author writes of Ripley as a personal and hands-on innovator who believed that museums should be "points of contact" with all people. He introduced the Carousel to the Mall, instituted the annual Folklife Festival, and created an atmosphere that enabled the public to be at ease using the Mall as a kind of "national front lawn." At the same time, Ripley worked to have the Smithsonian be a "company of scholars" and a center for ideas. During his tenure he oversaw the opening of eight new museums and seven new research or backup facilities, counted a doubling in the number of visitors, and managed major research and acquisition efforts.


Ripley, Sidney Dillon 1913-2001


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Twelve photographs accompany the article.

Contained within

Smithsonian (Journal)

Contact information

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


September 1984


  • Secretaries
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Museums
  • Biography


Mall, The (Washington, D.C.)

Physical description

pp. 77-85

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