Crypt of James Smithson

ID: MAH-17041

Creator: Unknown

Form/Genre: Photographic print

Date: 1905

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives Record Unit 95 Box 31 Folder 32

Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact
Download IIIF Manifest Request permissions Download image Print

Narrow Your Results


Filter Your Results

Smithsonian Secretaries Information

Close Browse records and papers of the Smithsonian Secretaries, from 1846 until today. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by individuals who have held that office.

Expeditions Information

Close Browse records and papers documenting scientific and collecting expeditions either affiliated with the Smithsonian, or with which Smithsonian researchers participated. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by geographic regions predominantly represented in expedition records.

Professional Societies Information

Close Browse records of professional societies closely associated with the Smithsonian, that focus on areas of scientific research and museum studies. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by major topics and disciplines.


Crypt containing the body of founder James Smithson in the North Tower entrance of the Smithsonian Institution Building or "Castle." Smithson's remains were brought to the United States by Smithsonian Regent Alexander Graham Bell in 1904, when the Protestant Cemetery in Genoa, Italy, where Smithson was buried, was to be moved. Many plans were made for an elaborate memorial to the Institution's benefactor, but the lack of an appropriation dictated a more modest course. Smithson's marker from the Italian gravesite was incorporated into the room, and a gate was fashioned from pieces of the fence that had surrounded the site. Architects Hornblower and Marshall redesigned the room to give it a more somber classical feeling, replacing the ceiling, windows, and the floor.


  • Bell, Alexander Graham 1847-1922
  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Hornblower & Marshall
  • Smithsonian Institution Building North Towers
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


See Field, Ewing and Stamm, "The Castle," pp. 154-57; Smithsonian Institution Annual Report for 1905, pp. 6-7. Rick Stamm's unpublished ms. "The History of Smithson's Crypt" details each of the proposals made for a Smithson memorial, copy in Office of Architectural History. The proposals are located in Smithsonian Institution Archives, RU7000, B4.

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives Record Unit 95 Box 31 Folder 32

Contact information

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



Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Tombs
  • Smithson, James
  • Benefactors
  • Memorials
  • Smithson family
  • Death and burial
  • Crypt
  • Smithson, James--Death and burial


  • Photographic print
  • Interior

ID Number


Physical description

Color: Black and White; Size: 8w x 10h; Type of Image: Interior; Medium: Photographic print

Full Record

View Full Record