Historical Figure & Event

The Smithsonian Institution was founded in 1846.

August 10
Calendar Activity Type
Historical Figure & Event

Event Description

Founded in the United States in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution is considered the "nation's museum." Today, the Smithsonian is comprised of 19 museums and 129 affiliate museums—including the National Zoo and the National Air and Space Museum.


Classroom Activity

In addition to the exhibits at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., the Institution has an extensive website, with information on exhibits and special events. Many online resources are available right in your classroom. Visit the Students Page and explore a variety of interactives. You and your students can build a sod house, play a Viking board game, and learn about the American presidents.

After exploring an exhibit online, have students use the information that they learned, along with some imagination, to write "A Day in the Life" narratives that tell about a person, animal, or object that they saw in the exhibit. Urge students to make connections to the specific details and facts they learned.



This website has standards-based online resources for teaching and learning American history, designed and developed by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Find lesson plans or sign up for the artifact RSS feed.


Online resources are available for educators, families, and students. In the Educators section, you will find lesson plans, information about planning a field trip to the Smithsonian, and professional development resources.


This collection of interactive learning labs for teachers and students includes online tutorials that bring the Smithsonian to life. Exhibits include Walking on the Moon and Kids Collecting.


This page has an interactive image of a coin featuring James Smithson's portrait, as well as information about Smithson, whose bequest of money founded the Smithsonian. Also of interest is a coin from 1838 created from Smithson's original bequest.


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