An act making appropriations for sundry civil expenses of the government for the fiscal year ending June thirtieth, eighteen hundred and eighty, and for other purposes

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Establishes the Geological Survey and outlines its services and duties; Notes that all natural history collections made by the U.S. Government "when no longer needed for investigations in progress shall be deposited in the National Museum"; Provides $23,000 for preservation and care of the collections of the National Museum; $5,000 for the distribution of duplicate scientific specimens; $2,500 for the storage of articles belonging to the United States, including those transferred from the International Exhibition of 1876; $3,000 for providing security against fire; $20,000 for completing and preparing for publication the contributions to North American Ethnology; $250,000 for a fire-proof building for the use of the National Museum.


  • Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology
  • United States Geological Survey (USGS)
  • United States National Museum
  • Arts and Industries Building
  • National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)
  • Centennial Exhibition (1876 : Philadelphia, Pa.)


Smithsonian Legal Documents

Legal document information

  • 20 Stat. 377
  • Title 20, Education
  • Public Law

Citation information

Statutes at Large


  • This law confirms that government collections should be transferred to the U.S. National Museum at the Smithsonian Institution.
  • The fire-proof building referred to is constructed in April of 1879 and it is then referred to as the United States National Museum (USNM), now known as the Arts and Industries Building (A&I).

Contained within

20 Stat. 377 (1879); ch. 182 (Book)

Contact information

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


  • 1879
  • 03/03/1879


  • Museum finance
  • Publishers and publishing
  • Geology
  • Preservation of materials
  • Finance
  • Fire
  • Ethnology
  • Exhibitions
  • Expenditures, Public
  • Museums
  • Construction (Buildings)
  • National Collections
  • Fires
  • Museum publications


Public Law

Physical description

Number of pages: 4; Page Numbers: 377, 394-5, 397

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