The Smithsonian is the largest museum and research complex in the world. While its museums are visible and well-known, the Smithsonian’s many research centers devoted to art, astrophysics, endangered species, environmental sciences, history, marine biology, object conservation, and tropical biology are less recognized.
Archives of American Art Founded in 1954 to collect and preserve documentation of American art, the Archives of American Art came under Smithsonian aegis in 1970, and complements the object collections in the various Smithsonian art museums.
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, was founded in 1975 to extend the National Zoological Park’s work in conservation of endangered species. Its 3,100 acres on a former US Army Cavalry Remount Station allow extremely rare animals to live and breed away from the public eye.
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center In 1965, a dairy farmer on the western shore of Maryland left his land to the Smithsonian. Recognizing the importance of its location in one of the world’s most important estuaries, the Smithsonian founded the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center to study and measure physical, chemical, and biological interactions in environmental settings.
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory The Smithsonian’s enabling act of 1846 provided for an observatory as part of the new Institution. With stations in Massachusetts, Arizona, and Hawaii, the observatory collaborates with the Harvard College Observatory on studies of the cosmos.
Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce A field station for the National Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce, Florida, was established in 1971 to collect, document, and preserve south Florida's marine biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as for education, training, and public service.
Museum Conservation Institute A Conservation Research Laboratory was first established in 1963 as part of the US National Museum, the original Smithsonian museum. In 1983, it moved to the Museum Support Center in Maryland. Its staff performs specialized technical collections research and conservation where knowledge of materials and the history of technology are combined with state-of-the-art instrumentation and scientific techniques to provide technical research studies and interpretation of artistic, anthropological, biological, and historical objects.
Smithsonian Institution Archives The Smithsonian’s enabling act charged the Secretary with maintaining the records of the Institution. The Smithsonian Institution Archives, one of many archives at the Smithsonian, contains the official files of the Smithsonian and collections in the history of science; history of museums; and history of American art, life, and culture.
Smithsonian Libraries The Smithsonian Libraries hold the most comprehensive museum library system in the world, supporting the vital research of the Institution as well as the work of scientists and scholars worldwide.
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute In 1923, a consortium of North American museums and universities established a tropical research station on Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal Zone. In 1946, the station was transferred to the Smithsonian, and in 1966 renamed the Smithsonian Tropical Biology Institute. In the ensuing decades, research sites have expanded across Panama and the tropics.