Profile America — The Smithsonian Institution was founded on this date in 1846. It is named for British scientist James Smithson, who willed his fortune to the U.S. to establish the institution, even though he had never visited America.
Today, the Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex, made up of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoo, and nine research centers. It currently has some 137 million items in its collections. It is one of the main attractions for both American and foreign visitors, and last year over 30 million people toured the Smithsonian’s many exhibit halls. In addition to the Smithsonian archipelago, there are over 5,000 mostly modest museums in the U.S., employing over 86,000 people.
You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at www.census.gov.