The Smithsonian Institution has many hats, from the one worn by
Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones movies, to the one worn by
Abraham Lincoln the night he was assassinated. One of the world's
leading cultural institutions, the Smithsonian houses more
than 137 million objects in 19 museums and galleries, most of
which are on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Roughly 30
million people visit every year to view the Smithsonian's exhibits
on art, music, TV and film, science, history, and other subjects.
Admission to all but one of the Smithsonian's facilities is
free; only the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in
New York charges admission.
The Smithsonian Institution is located in Washington DC.
The world's largest museum and research complex
averages about 30 million visitors
A board of regents that includes the vice president and the
chief justice of the US, six members of Congress, and nine private
citizens leads the institution. The Smithsonian's exhibits display
items such as the Declaration of Independence, the ruby slippers
worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, and the Wright
brothers' first airplane. Along with its museums and galleries, the
Smithsonian also operates the National Zoo and nine research
facilities, and publishes the Smithsonian monthly
The Smithsonian receives about 80% of its funding from the
federal government. The Institution claimed about $1.28 billion in
revenue for fiscal 2013, an increase of about 3% compared to the
$1.24 billion it reported for fiscal 2012.
Recent initiatives at the Institution include the renovation of
the Arts and Industries building, and plans to open the National
Museum of African American History and Culture in 2015.
The institution aims to expand the Smithsonian's global
relevance in the 21st century. As part of this strategy, it
released a strategic plan that focuses on four priorities,
or "grand challenges" as they are called in the report. They
are: Unlocking the mysteries on the universe; Understanding and
sustaining a biodiverse planet; Valuing world cultures; and
Understanding the American experience.