An Act to establish the "Smithsonian Institution," for the Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge Among Men

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The organic act creating the Smithsonian Institution as an establishment for the "increase and diffusion of knowledge among men," as provided for in the will of James Smithson. The perpetual maintenance and support of the institution is enacted. The organization and procedures of the Board of Regents is set forth. Objects of art, natural history, plants etc. belonging to the U. S. in Washington are to be deposited and arranged in the building. Secretary of the Board of Regents shall take charge of the building and property of said institution. The Regents shall make annual appropriations for the gradual formation of a library. Copies of copyrighted materials shall be delivered to the librarian of the Smithsonian Institution. The right to alter or repeal any provision of this act is reserved to Congress.


  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Board of Regents
  • United States Congress
  • Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL)


Smithsonian Legal Documents

Legal document information

  • 9 Stat. 102
  • Title 20, Education, Chapter 3, Sections 41-80, Chapter 4, Sections 81-85
  • Public Law

Citation information

Statutes at Large


  • Title 20, U.S. Code: Chapter 3: Sections 41-70, Organization of Smithsonian and the U.S. National Museum; Sections 71-75, National Gallery of Art; Sections 75a-75g, National Portrait Gallery; Sections 76-76g, Smithsonian Gallery of Art (now Smithsonian American Art Museum); Sections 76h-76q, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Section 76aa-76ee, Joseph H. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; Sections 77-77d, National Air and Space Museum; Sections 78-78a, Paleontological Investigations; Sections 79-79e, Canal Zone Biological Area (now Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute); Sections 80-80d, National Armed Forces Museum Advisory Board; Sections 80e-80j, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Sections 80k-80p, Museum of African Art; Sections 80q-80q-15, National Museum of the American Indian; Chapter 4, Sections 81-85, National Zoological Park.
  • To see images of the original nine page handwritten bill, visit the following webpages:;;;;;;;;;

Contained within

09 Stat 102 (1846); Chapter 178 (Book)

Contact information

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


  • 1862
  • 08/10/1846


  • Copyright
  • Articles of incorporation
  • National Collections


Public Law

Physical description

Number of pages: 5; Page Numbers: 102-06

Full Record

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