National Institution Established

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The National Institution for the Promotion of Science is organized "to promote science and the useful arts, and to establish a national museum of natural history. . ." Its organizers, including Joel R. Poinsett, hope to secure control of the James Smithson bequest. The National Institution later changes its name to the National Institute. Their collections are transferred to the Smithsonian Institution in the 1850s.


  • Poinsett, Joel Roberts 1779-1851
  • National Institute
  • National Institution for the Promotion of Science


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Goode, George Brown, ed. The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896, The History of Its First Half Century. Washington, D.C.: De Vinne Press, 1897, p. 37-39.
  • Rathbun, Richard. The Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1917, p. 1.

Contact information

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


May 15, 1840


  • Professional associations
  • Smithson Bequest
  • Museums
  • New Organizations

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