The Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, with approximately 154 million artifacts and specimens in 19 museums and the National Zoo. SI is dedicated to public education; national service; and to scholarship in art, design, science, technology, history, and culture.
The Institution was founded in 1846 with funds from the Englishman James Smithson (1765–1829) according to his wishes “under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.”
Completed in 1855, the Castle is the signature building and home to the Smithsonian Visitor Center. As such, it makes a good starting point for your explorations of SI museums. Here you can get a grasp of the scope and scale of the Smithsonian, see collections highlights from each of the museums, tour the Castle’s 19th-century architecture, see what’s going on at all the museums, and consult with in-house experts about what to see and do.