Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 27 >> Twelfth Night to United States And Macedo >> United States National Mu

United States National Mu Seum

collections, museum and institution

UNITED STATES NATIONAL MU SEUM, a national depository for scientific and historical collections under the administration of the Smithsonian Institution (q.v.), located at Washington, D. C. The beginning of the mu seum was Smithson's cabinet of minerals, and other collections gathered by exploring expedi tions, which had been placed under the charge of the Smithsonian Institution by the act estab lishing it in 1846. The name of United States National Museum was not adopted until 1876, when the Smithsonian Institution added to the collections already made the exhibits prepared to illustrate the resources and ethnology of the United States at the Centennial Exhibition, to gether with a large amount of material pre sented by 34 foreign nations. In 1879 Congress appropriated $250,000 for a museum building; but this has for some time been inadequate for the proper housing of the collections, and a new building was provided for in 1903 by the appropriation of $3,500,000. The chief means of adding to the collection are by the speci mens gathered by government explorations and surveys, by exchanges, by gift, and by limited purchases provided for in the Congressional appropriation. The museum is under the gen

eral direction of the secretary of the Smith sonian Institution, and under the special charge of an assistant secretary and curators, appointed by the secretary; and receives an annual appro priation from the government. Its collections are naturally best for matters relating to North America; the material illustrating the arts and occupations of the American Indians and the fisheries of the United States is particularly valuable; and the historical collections con taining personal relics of famous Americans are interesting. The museum publishes 'Pro ceedings' and .an Report,' containing scientificsarticles describing or illustrating the collections; aid is also given to students in using the collections for purposes of scientific research.