This Day in SI History

Tom Crouch at "A More Perfect Union" Exhibit

October 1, 1987

A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the United States Constitution opens at the National Museum of American History. The exhibition is designed to focus attention on the Bicentennial of the Constitution and explores a period when racial prejudice and fear upset the balance between the rights of citizens and the power of the state and led to the internment of some 120,000 Japanese Americans for much of World War II. The exhibition also includes a section on the men in the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all-Japanese American unit of the U.S. Army.

Emperor Hirohito at the National Museum of Natural History

October 2, 1975

Emperor Hirohito of Japan visits the National Museum of Natural History while he and Empress Nagako are in Washington on a tour of the United States. The Emperor, who is a marine biologist, conducts laboratory studies of a variety of marine specimens while at the Museum.

Sarah McClendon Visits Hall of News Reporting

October 3, 1974

Sarah McClendon, journalist and radio and television newscaster, tours the Hall of News Reporting at the National Museum of American History with curator Peter Marzio.  She also spoke to the exhibit docents about "Women in the News."

Interior Court of the HMSG on Opening Night

October 4, 1974

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden opens to the public. It is the Smithsonian's museum for modern and contemporary art and is also known particularly for its extensive sculpture collection. The inaugural exhibition, representing highlights from the permanent collection, and including 900 works in all media, some of which had never before been exhibited, will run through September 15, 1975.

Patent Office Building Exterior, Home of Smithsonian American Art Museum

October 5, 1968

Opening ceremonies are held at the National Portrait Gallery. The museum collects and displays of paintings, sculptures, graphics, and photographs of men and women who have made significant contributions to the history, development, and culture of the United States. It is located in the former Patent Office Building, newly named the Fine Arts and Portraits Galleries, which it shares with the National Collection of Fine Arts, now the Smithsonian American Art Museum. On October 6, 1968, an opening is held for the Smithsonian Associates and on October 7, 1968, the Gallery is opened to the public.

Ann Carroll, by Kline, Lawrence, 1978, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, 94-2876.

October 6, 1981

Radio Smithsonian, produced by the Office of Telecommunications, broadcasts a nationwide program on Yorktown: Echoes of a Victory, as part of the Bicentennial celebration of the historic battle.

Air and Space Building, South Yard

October 7, 1920

The steel hangarlike aircraft building (at Independence and Tenth Street S.W.) is opened to the public to exhibit aircraft and accessories produced during World War I. This metal structure, erected by the War Department on the Smithsonian Reservation in 1917 for the use of the United States Signal Service, was transferred to the custody of the Smithsonian Institution after the close of the war.

NMAH Receives a Tucker

October 8, 1993

The United States Marshals Service donates a very rare 1946 Tucker automobile to the National Museum of American History transportation collection. Number 39 of only 51 such cars produced by the Tucker Corporation before it became embroiled in fraud allegations. The car was designed by Preston Tucker, Alex Tremulis, and a team of stylists and engineers. The car was seized in 1992 by the United States Marshals Service following a narcotics investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Thomas Alva Edison, by Avino, Mark, c. 1920s, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, 2002-3813.

October 9, 1979

Edison: Lighting a Revolution opens at the National Museum of History and Technology, now the National Museum of American History, in celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of Thomas Alva Edison's invention of the light bulb.

Edith Halpert and Mrs. Charles Sheeler at Opening of Sheeler Exhibit

October 10, 1969

The largest show ever assembled of the work of artist Charles Sheeler opens to the public at the National Collection of Fine Arts, now the Smithsonian American Art Museum, on October 10 for six weeks. The retrospective includes 135 paintings and drawings and thirty-five photographs.

Installation of National Museum of Natural History South American Exhibit

October 11, 1975

South America: Continent and Culture, a new permanent exhibit hall, opens at the National Museum of Natural History, the second of the reconstructed exhibit halls. It presents an ecological view of the diverse cultures of South America.

Creators and Advisors of Fiberglass Jaws

October 12, 1985

Shark! a permanent exhibition opens in the fossil hall of the National Museum of Natural History. The exhibition features the jaws of Carcharodon megalodon, the colossal ancestor of the modern great white shark.

Barro Colorado Island Field Station Celebrates 70th Anniversary

October 13, 1993

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute is awarded a three-year $900,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support initiatives in plant ecological research at this Panamanian field station.

Audrey Davis with Zander Exercise Machine

October 14, 1983

Pain and Its Relief, an examination of mankind's attempts to understand, combat, and alleviate pain, opens at the National Museum of American History.

Scientist Walter H. Adey Inspects a Created Coral Reef at MNH

October 15, 1980

The Coral Reef: Researching a Living System opens at the National Museum of Natural History. The exhibition marks the first time it has been possible to keep a large reef community, including corals, alive and functioning in isolation from the sea.  A laboratory area adjoins the exhibit where research is conducted on the reef system. This is the first time an actual research project has ever been located in the Museum exhibition area.

Aerial of Ft. Pierce, c. 1995, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, SIA2010-1065.

October 16, 1971

The Fort Pierce Bureau, a marine research facility in Florida, is established. It is created as a separate bureau under the Assistant Secretary for Science. In 1982 the facility became known as the Smithsonian Institution Marine Station at Link Port, and is administered by the National Museum of Natural History.

Baker-Nunn Camera

October 17, 1957

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is able to record the first United States photograph of the Soviet satellite Sputnik, using a Baker Nunn camera.  By mid-1958, the Observatory had its Satellite Tracking Program fully operational.

The "Hooker" Emerald

October 18, 1977

A seventy-five carat emerald, believed to have been owned by Abdul Hamid II of the Ottoman Empire, is given to the National Museum of Natural History's National Gem Collection by Mrs. Stewart Hooker of New York.

Young Austin H. Clark, 1910, by Unknown, c. 1910, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, SIA2007-0009.

October 19, 1923

Local Washington radio station WRC, of the Radio Corporation of America, begins broadcasting a series of talks on the Smithsonian. The talks were so successful that a regular series on scientific subjects is initiated on April 9, 1924, with Austin H. Clark who gives a talk on "The Giants of the Animal World."  The series runs for more than four years.

Portrait Photograph of Martin Hans Boyè

October 20, 1983

Robert Cornelius: Portraits from the Dawn of Photography opens at the National Portrait Gallery, devoted to the work of the pioneering daguerreotypist, Robert Cornelius.

Willem de Kooning in His Studio

October 21, 1993

Willem de Kooning from the Hirshhorn Museum Collection, opens at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and will last through January 9, 1994. This launches an extensive tour of 50 works charting the Dutch-born American artist's development from 1939-1985. The exhibit will also be seen in Barcelona, Atlanta, Boston, and Houston.

Zoo Employees

October 22, 1923

Upon completion of several new enclosures near the Connecticut Avenue entrance of the National Zoological Park, the transfer of deer, wild goats, sheep and cattle to their new homes is completed without any problems.

Handwritten Draft of James Smithson Will, Pages 1 and 3 and 2 and 4

October 23, 1826

James Smithson makes his will while residing in Bentinck Street, Cavendish Square, London. The conditions for the bequest to the United States are: "In the case of the death of my said Nephew [Henry James Hungerford] without leaving a child or children, or the death of the child or children he may have had under the age of twenty-one years or intestate, I then bequeath the whole of my property, . . . to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge among men."

Woodrow Wilson Library, SIB, by Unknown, 1972, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, 72-4900.

October 24, 1968

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is established by the United States Congress (P.L. 90-637), and is placed at the Smithsonian Institution under a Board of Trustees appointed by former President Lyndon Johnson and President Richard Nixon. In 1970, it will be installed in the newly created floors occupying the former upper main hall of the Smithsonian Institution Building.

Visitors View the World Map of Martin Walkdseemuller at "The Naming of America"

October 25, 1983

The Naming of America opens at the National Museum of American History. The exhibition displays the world map of Martin Waldseemuller, thought to be the first map on which the name "America" was used.

German Arado Ar 234B Blitz Jet Bomber

October 26, 1993

The National Air and Space Museum opens an exhibition featuring the world's first operational jet bomber, the German Arado Ar 234B Blitz. The exhibition is the second in the Museum's Air Power in World War II series.

North Entrance of A&I Building, 1976

October 27, 1976

The Arts and Industries Building receives an Historic Preservation Award from the Washington Metropolitan Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The ceremony was held in the National Gallery of Art Cafe. A plaque, which was affixed to the building exterior, and four certificates of achievement of excellence in historic preservation, are awarded.

"Personal Legacy: The Healing of A Nation" Exhibit, NMAH

October 28, 1992

The National Museum of American History opens Personal Legacy: The Healing of a Nation, an exhibition commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Charles Willson Peale, (painting).

October 29, 1982

Charles Willson Peale and his World, reflecting the multifaceted talents of Peale as artist, scientist, and inventor, opens at the National Portrait Gallery.

Museum Staff in the Dynamics of Evolution Exhibit

October 30, 1980

The U.S. Court of Appeals rules that two exhibition areas in the National Museum of Natural History that focus on the scientific theory of evolution do not violate the First Amendment requirement of separation of church and state. The decision, which affirmed the decision of a lower court in Washington, D.C., also reports that the Smithsonian did not support or endorse any one religion by presenting exhibits with material on the evolutionary process. The suit was brought against the Smithsonian by Dale Crowley, Jr., a fundamentalist minister and executive director of the National Foundation for Fairness in Education in 1978, alleging that the use of federal funds in Museum exhibits, specifically the Dynamics of Evolution in 1979 and Ice Age Mammals and the Emergence of Man in 1974 was a violation of the separation of church and state.

Columbian Historical Exposition in Madrid, Spain

October 31, 1892

The Smithsonian participates in the Columbian Historical Exposition in Madrid, Spain, from 31 October 1892 to 31 January 1893.  The Smithsonian prepared an extensive history and ethnology display from the U.S. National Museum.  Assistant Secretary in charge of the United States National Museum, George Brown Goode, serves on the U.S. Commission for the exposition.