Talk:Smithsonian Institution

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Some explanation is required as the flag shown is not the flag flying above the building in the other picture. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:40, 29 October 2014 (UTC)


How about affiliated institutions like Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California, where the Smithsonian's Tucker automobile is parked? Ortolan88

Needs a section on the associated record label of historical and cultural recordings of world music. heidimo 15:06, 9 Mar 2004 (UTC)

18-fold inflation after 130 years?[edit]

I'm refering to the claim that $500,000 in 1835 is the equivalent of $9,235,277 in 2005. Where does this figure come from? It's oddly exact, and frankly adjustments like these tend to be rather misleading, even whimsical (see this article in Slate for an idea of what I mean: I'm not planning to do anything to the article just yet, but I am curious about how the figure was arrived at. Buck Mulligan 22:08, 22 September 2006 (UTC)


As cultureless and bland as most of America is generally regarded, I still see the Smithsonian Institution as one of the most admirable public centers of arts and sciences in the world. mnemonic 08:34, 2004 Jul 5 (UTC)


I just switched from the picture of the Castle as seen through the garden gate to one I took from inside the gate. I think it's a nicer shot without the gate bars, but since I took the latter picture I might be biased. Isomorphic 08:11, 30 May 2005 (UTC)


May want to note the chancellor is the chief justice of the supreme court (odd fact): RAccettura


An article Smithsonian Institution Libraries has had to be deleted as a copyvio. But clearly there is a need for something about them either here or in the separate article which is currently a redirect. -- RHaworth 21:27, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Smithsonian museums template?[edit]

Might it be a good idea to create a template that lists all the different Smithsonian museums and other buildings, so that they all could appear on the museums' respective pages and allow for quick browsing?


Where to put Smithsonian Folkways Recordings?

Disconnected content under History section[edit]

The History section, right up front, seems very disconnected to me. The info about the voyage of the US Navy, native American artifacts, the Megatherium Club, and the very obscure reference to an asteroid are not appropriate to this section. I am not an expert. I am a reader. Please level this out. Keep the core info at the beginning. Move the nuance info elsewhere and/or delete it.

Most of the rest is fine, with the usual Wikipedia quirks.

The recently added Jefferson Davis bit seems especially irrelevant, and is badly formatted and appears to be copied from elsewhere besides.

I concure, i don't feel up to changing it though-- 03:10, 25 March 2007 (UTC)JJR86

Greeting iam trying to contact someone in real life interference to connection,iam the orginal deed holder of all sites,when i went into the museum people thought i was crazy,i come in peace,i would like to off all debts and update some error,within whom do i need to speak with. Headmatized1 (talk) 23:05, 12 July 2016 (UTC)

The Archives of American Art[edit] is missing -- Cherubino 21:54, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

Smithsonian Press[edit]

In 2005 Smithsonian Press folded owing to financial and administrative ineptitude. Most authors (including me) were told nothing of the impending collapse, and some had to approach their congressmen to obtain the barest of facts. Thousands of unsold books were remaindered with no possibility of authors recovering royalties on those volumes. Clearly the regents and congress were asleep at the switch, and apparently there has been no accountability at any level. Lacking further contacts in the DC area, I cannot pursue the matter but it should be addressed in this article. How a government-funded business goes broke should make illuminating reading.

B. Tillman, May 2007


I added a criticism section as the Smithsonian's stance on copyright of public domain images appears to be becoming an issue. If anyone sees how to make this better, feel free. -Rolypolyman 18:15, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

External Link Video Add[edit]

I'd like to add a video series featuring Dr. David L. Evans, Smithsonian's Under Secretary for Science. The videos include lectures on the history of the Smithsonian, how the Smithsonian is helping to bridge the gap in science education, and the Natural History collections and why they're important. The link is (this will not automatically open a video). Please let me know what you think. --ResearchChannel 04:27, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

Criticism and censorship?[edit]

How about a merge of these two? It's sort of cutting a fine line anyway, and neither has so many entries that it would create a run-on section. Epthorn (talk) 19:14, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Hearing no opposition, I will go ahead and do that. Epthorn (talk) 00:56, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

Despite rumors of an agreement between the Smithsonian and the Wright estate, an actual contract remained elusive. O'Dwyer noted that during a 1969 conversation with Paul Garber, then the NASM's curator of early aircraft, Garber denied that any such agreement existed, adding that he "could never agree to such a thing." [1]

Then came, as O'Dwyer expressed it, "a whole new ball game." On June 29, 1975, at an annual dinner meeting of international museum directors at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, CAHA officers overheard a loud argument between Louis Casey, then a NASM curator, and Harold S. Miller, an executor of the Wright estate. During the argument, Miller used the word "contract" three times. Casey had mentioned that the wording of the label on the Wright Flyer was to undergo a change. Miller heatedly insisted it could not be changed "by contract." Miller won.

Learning of the public mention of a contract from CAHA veteran Harvey Lippincott, O'Dwyer renewed his efforts to obtain a copy of the agreement, which he had long suspected might be a key to NASM's reticence about Whitehead. Letters and visits between O'Dwyer and Senator Lowell Weicker, Jr., of Connecticut, plus senatorial clout and the Freedom of Information Act, were required to extract a copy of the contract from the Smithsonian. The agreement was dated November 23, 1948.

This and many other stories about the behavior of the Smithsonian institute shows that the institute is far from an honest and open institute. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Roger491127 (talkcontribs) 12:32, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

Why did Beach, an enthusiastic supporter of Whitehead who liberally credited Whitehead's powered flight successes of 1901, later become a Wright devotee? O'Dwyer offered some intriguing answers, all reflected by his research files, which state that in 1910 Whitehead refused to work any longer on Beach's flat-winged biplane. Angered, Beach broke with Whitehead and sent a mechanic to Whitehead's shop in Fairfield to disassemble the plane and take it to Beach's barn in Stratford. In later years (in O'Dwyer's words), "Beach became a politician, rarely missing an opportunity to mingle with the Wright tide that had turned against Whitehead, notably after Whitehead's death in 1927.

"The significance of the foregoing can be appreciated by the fact that Beach's 1939 statement denouncing Whitehead (almost totally at odds with his earlier writings) was quoted by Orville Wright (as shown earlier). Far more important, however, was the Smithsonian's use of the Beach statement as a standard and oft-quoted source for answering queries about aviation's beginnings-because it said that Gustave Whitehead did not fly." Roger491127 (talk) 13:16, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

"Back in the 1960s when we began our investigation, we were informed that the Smithsonian NASM had no knowledge about Whitehead's early claims of powered flight until Stella Randolph's book came out in 1937. Nearly two decades later, we discovered the Smithsonian had produced a "Bibliography of Aeronautics" covering the years up through 1912; in it, a great number of the references are cross-indexed under the names of both Whitehead and Weisskopf Since the Museum's book covering references on hand in their collection shows they knew a lot about what was being reported about Whitehead's work and claims, it is hard to understand why the Smithsonian never once contacted Whitehead, or for that matter, ever contacted his family after his death in 1927. His engines, papers and original glass negatives were still at his home until the time his family moved to Florida after WW II. Unfortunately, little has survived: five of the books he studied along with a working scale model of his 1898 steam engine and some miscellaneous parts and wooden patterns salvaged by Stella Randolph in the mid-1930s. All else went to the town dump or to scrap-metal yards." [2] ) Roger491127 (talk) 11:53, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

Definition of terms?[edit]

"Sustained", does that mean gliding down a slope 260 m ? "Controlled", does that mean barely controllable flight? "The bucking and veering that had hampered Flyers I & II" and III before late in 1905. A flight ending in a crash which damage the plane is a controlled flight? Definitions of "sustained".

To me the word sustained means an activity which can continue for significant time or even indefinitely, that you can keep on flying until the tank is empty, for example. From the web:

"At the beginning of the 19th century, sustained powered heavier-than-air flight remained an impossibility because of the lack of suitable power plants. The level of technology that would permit even limited powered flight lay over a century in the future."

"Which is the only mammal capable of sustained flight? The bat." "Young bats achieved sustained flight at 55 days of age. .... The bats started to forage on their own when they achieved sustained flight."

"Aircrew fatigue monitoring during sustained flight operations from Souda Bay. Operational flight surgeons are often responsible for determining aeromedical readiness of aircrew members whose accumulated flight time exceeds standard limitations."

"and climbed to a maximum altitude of 39,880 feet. A sustained flight record was set at 36,352 feet."

"Raymond has built a new wing that incorporates monocrystalline silicon cells efficient enough to generate 1,800 watts of energy. He noted that he only needs about 1,100 watts to maintain sustained flight in Sunseeker."

What does "successful" mean? Is a barely controlled glide down a slope for 269m ending in a crash which damaged the plane, and which would have killed or badly hurt the pilot if it wasn't for the strong headwind and an altitude of only a few feet a "successful" example of flying?

Conclusion: The Smithsonian terminology is so different from normal use of these words that it must be pointed out that it is a description formulated by the Smithsonian institute, like this:

"According to the Smithsonian institute this was the first successful, sustained, controlled, powered and manned flight in the world history." This Smithsonian description should be followed or preceeded of a detailed description of what really happened.

This will tell the reader both exactly what was achieved that day and what kind of institute the Smithsonian institute is.

Note that the Wright brothers themselves did consider their flights at the end of 1905 their first real flights. Flyer I, II, and III had big problems which resulted in barely controllable, short, bumpy, bucking and veering flights, ending in "unintended landings" until they finally found a solution for Flyer III which made it reliable and capable of sustained and controlled flight.

Should we accept the Smithsonian's strange definition of terms and call the 1903 flight the first successful, sustained, controlled, powered and manned flight in the world history, or use the normal definitions of these terms, ignore the Smithsonian institute, and write that the first successful, sustained, controlled, powered and manned flight by the Wright brothers happened in 1905? Should we tell the readers the truth, or uphold and support an old myth? Roger491127 (talk) 15:40, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

The Office of Protection[edit]

The section on The Office of Protection was removed by an anon user. I reverted it. If folks feel it should be deleted, let's discuss here before unilaterally deleting a section. Toddst1 (talk) 02:21, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

New template[edit]

All the museums in the new template listing all of the SI's museums need cats giving the date each museum was established (such as Category:Museums established in 1989). Badagnani (talk) 20:58, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

hi im cool —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:15, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

G. Wayne Clough[edit]

G. Wayne Clough is listed as the current secretary, but according to his article he doesn't assume office until July 1, 2008. It's fairly minor because the dates would remain the same, but shouldn't Cristián Samper be listed as the secretary for the time being? --Mansley (talk) 03:34, 30 March 2008 (UTC)


I am in 7th grade and is going to dc new york and boston over spring break. It sounds so cool and i am very excited. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:08, 4 October 2008 (UTC)

List of Smithsonian Museums[edit]

I am contemplating creatign a List of Smithsonian Museums. There is a brief list of them here, but i feel it could be greatly expanded to include pictures of the museums, date opened, main topic, etc. Do others feel this is an acceptable way to show this?--Found5dollar (talk) 15:54, 22 March 2009 (UTC)


The Smithsonian is the Untied States biggest museum. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:01, 2 April 2009 (UTC)

Smithsonian Edits to Wikipedia Page[edit]

I'd like to suggest a few updates/edits to the Smithsonian's page. I'm new to editing so I'd like to take all the correct precautions before making any edits. On behalf of the Smithsonian, I'd like to propose pulling information from SI's fact sheets,, to ensure accurate info is being posted. We have fact sheets for each section on the current wiki page - History, Administration (Regents), Museums, General Fact Sheet, etc.

Also, I'd like to suggest removing the paragraph of Acting Secretary Samper, this information is outdated now that Secretary Clough has been on board for a year.

I'd like to add a few details to the museum section - opening dates, renovation dates, etc. In addition, I'd like to add/edit the [edit] Strong Copyright Restrictions section, with rewording to the SI Networks and Copyright policies as provided by SI. (Smithsonianinstitution (talk) 15:40, 17 July 2009 (UTC))

Hello, may I ask what's with the removal of (sourced) censorship of "Seasons of Life and Land" section?[1]
Please remember that this is an openly editable wiki and the Office of Public Affairs at the Smithsonian does not have any "special" authority to modify content of this page. COI edits which appear to be whitewashing/ PoV/Copyvio may be reverted by other editors. Primary sources that you are suggesting are acceptable, but preference is given to secondary sources not affiliated to the organization to keep the biases out of the article.
Oh, and please don't copy-paste text from the website without donating the copyrights to Wikipedia through email first. I note that two chunks of text in your edits was copied; specifically:
"In 1865, only a decade after the completion of the Smithsonian’s first building, the “Castle”, the top floor of the building was destroyed in a terrible fire, and among the losses were Smithson’s...."
"The motives behind Smithson’s bequest, which has had such a significant impact on the arts, humanities and sciences in the United States, remain a mystery. He never traveled to the United States..." from [2].-- (talk) 17:10, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
Hi, thanks, I appreciate your input! Agreed, on all points. I made a few additions to the wikipage with cited notation, nothing has been deleted, only additions. (SIopa (talk) 19:15, 22 July 2009 (UTC))

Article is better than 'Start' class[edit]

I'd like to suggest this article get a bump in grade, as it is clearly better than those described in the Wikipedia rating system for a 'Start' class article. Thoughts? Jusdafax (talk) 18:01, 8 September 2009 (UTC)

"Strong Copyright Restrictions"[edit]

Except for the paragraph about Showtime, the information in this section has been made from primary sources. In other words it's WP:OR. I was tempted to delete it, but instead I've put in some tags. Peter Ballard (talk) 03:03, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

U.S. Global Change Research Program[edit]

The last sentence is certainly off topic for that section, although it's related , and may be a controversy. However, I question its relevance to the article at all. The Institution participates in many intragovernment and other associations; why is this one notable, unless it is controversial. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 15:39, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

It is relevant to the topic of the "Seasons of Life and Land" exhibit, and it demonstrates how the agency appears to have taken multiple sides on the issue of Climate Change. I propose removing the tag. Mherlihy (talk) 06:57, 18 April 2012 (UTC)

High importance[edit]

Reclassified from Top to High importance within WikiProject United States. Lagrange613 (talk) 16:41, 9 June 2011 (UTC)

A talk by Michael Edson[edit]

GLAM-Wiki 2013 - Michael Edson - Jack the Museum

An interesting talk by Michael Edson, Smithsonian Institution's Director of Web and New Media Strategy

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just added archive links to 2 external links on Smithsonian Institution. Please take a moment to review my edit. If necessary, add {{cbignore}} after the link to keep me from modifying it. Alternatively, you can add {{nobots|deny=InternetArchiveBot}} to keep me off the page altogether. I made the following changes:

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Question? Archived sources still need to be checked

Cheers. —cyberbot IITalk to my owner:Online 19:49, 28 August 2015 (UTC)

  1. ^
  2. ^