Smithsonian History Chronology


What are the major events in the history of the Smithsonian?


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August 10, 1846 Smithsonian Act of Organization Passed

1846 Joseph Henry Elected First Smithsonian Secretary

1855 Smithsonian Building Completed

1858 Smithsonian Is Designated as the National Museum

1876 Centennial Exposition Collections Donated to Smithsonian

1878 Spencer Baird Elected Second Secretary

1879 Bureau of Ethnology Established at Smithsonian by Congress

1881 Arts and Industries Building Opened

1887 Samuel Langley Elected Third Secretary

1890 Astrophysical Observatory Established

1891 National Zoological Park Opened in the Valley of Rock Creek

1907 Charles D. Walcott Appointed Fourth Secretary

1910 Natural History Building Opened

1912 Helen Herron Taft Donated First of the “First Ladies Gowns”

1923 Freer Gallery of Art Opened

1928 Charles G. Abbot Appointed Fifth Secretary

1928 Spirit of St. Louis Donated to SI by Charles Lindbergh

1945 Alexander Wetmore Elected Sixth Secretary

1946 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Made Part of SI

1946 National Air Museum Established

1950 Smokey Bear Arrived at National Zoo

1952 Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service Established

1953 Leonard Carmichael Elected Seventh Secretary

1958 Hope Diamond Donated to SI by Harry Winston

1959 Fenykovi Elephant Placed on Display in NMNH

1964 National Museum of American History Opened

1964 S. Dillon Ripley Became Eighth Secretary

1965 The Smithsonian Associates Founded

1965 Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Established

1967 First Festival of American Folklife Held on the National Mall

1967 Anacostia Museum Opened

1968 National Museum of American Art Opened in Old Patent Office Building

1968 National Portrait Gallery Opened in Old Patent Office Building

1969 Conservation Analytical Laboratory Established

1970 "Smithsonian" Magazine Began Publication

1970 Archives of American Art Became Part of Smithsonian

1971 Smithsonian Marine Station at Link Port Established

1972 Renwick Gallery Opened

1972 Giant Pandas Arrived at National Zoo

1974 Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Opened

1975 Conservation & Research Center Established

1976 National Air & Space Museum Opened

1976 Cooper Hewitt: The National Design Museum Reopened

1978 National Museum of African Art Established

1984 Robert McC. Adams Became Ninth Secretary

1987 Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Opened

1987 S. Dillon Ripley International Center Opened

1989 National Museum of the American Indian Established

1990 National Postal Museum Established

1994 I. Michael Heyman Became Tenth Secretary

2000 Lawrence M. Small Became Eleventh Secretary

2003 Udvar-Hazy Center of NASM Opened

2003 National Museum of African American History and Culture Established

2004 National Museum of the American Indian Opened

2007 Cristián Samper Appointed Acting Secretary

2008 G. Wayne Clough Became Twelfth Secretary

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