“A museum is a place where nothing was lost, just rediscovered…” ― Nanette Avery

On June 27, 1829 (190 years ago this week), British mineralogist and chemist James Smithson passed away, directing in his will that £87,620 be given to the United States for “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” That establishment would go on to become the Smithsonian Institution. In honor of Smithson’s enduring endowment, this week we share some history on Smithson himself and some links to start you on your own path of discovery through the vast resources and collections of the Smithsonian Institution.

Founding donor, James Smithson

“How James Smithson’s Money Built the Smithsonian”

The Smithsonian is comprised of 18 museums and galleries, 1 zoo, and various outdoor gardens in the National Capital Area (DC), 2 museums in New York, and 1 museum in Virginia.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture: the newest Smithsonian museum

National Quilt Collection

Nature by Design at Cooper Hewitt

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (Find Textile Voices: Songs and Stories of the Mills by Joe Glazer here.)

Portraits: A Podcast from the National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects by Richard Kurin

Read about Alabama Chanin at Cooper Hewitt here and at the Smithsonian Institute here.

In Alabama: Alabama Wall 1, by William Christenberry, Smithsonian American Art Museum

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