The Smithsonian Institution is in Washington D.C. and was started based on the will of British scientist James Smithson who had never been to the U.S. His will stated that if his nephew, Henry James Hungerford, passes on without heirs, his estate would go the United States government to establish a facility for the"increase & diffusion of Knowledge among men". When the nephew died without heirs in 1835, President Andrew Jackson told Congress about this bequest which was $500,000 at that time.
It took Congress eight years to enact a law to create the Smithsonian Institution, which was a public/private partnership. The bill was signed into law by Pressident James Polk on August 10, 1846. The Smithsonian Institution was developed for education, research and a complex museums to support this work. It is managed by the federal goverment and the funds come from donations, its endowment and from the shops and magazine. Most of the Smithsonian is in D.C., but there are 19 other museums, a zoo and 8 research sites located in New York, Virginia Panama and in other places.
The United States Exploring Expedition traveled the world 1838 to 1842 gathering animals, plants, shells, minerals, birds and other specimens to become part of the collection for the Smithsonian. There were also military and private organizations that collected for the institute, such as Native American artifacts and other natural historic items.
The Smithsonian now is a complex of museums, free to the public, that includes the Anacostia Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Hirshhorn Museum, National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of American History, National Museum of the American Indian, National Museum of Natural History, National Portrait Gallery, National Postal Museum, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, and National Zoo.
Maps of Famous Landmarks
Washington D.C. has a moderate climate representative of the Mid-Atlantic United States, with four separate seasons. Summer is very hot and humid with highs in July and August in the 80's to 90's. Because of the humidity there can be many thunderstorms, some with tornadoes. Spring and fall are very pleasant with low humidity and temperatures in the 60's to 70's. Many trees and bushes are in bloom, most notably the cherry blossoms. Winter can feature cold temperatures, snow and freezing rain and sometimes sizable snowstorms. Average highs are in the low 40's and lows in the mid 20's from mid-December to mid-February. The temperature can occasionally drop into the teens.