Wednesday Open Line

The Smithsonian Institution was founded on this date in 1846. It is named for British scientist James Smithson, who willed his fortune to the U.S. to establish the institution, even though he had never visited America. Today, the 170-year-old Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex, made up of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoo, and nine research centers. It currently has over 138 million items in its collections. It is one of the main attractions for both American and foreign visitors, and in 2015, hosted 28 million visitors. In addition to the Smithsonian archipelago, there are about 5,050 mostly modest museums in the U.S., employing nearly 92,000 people. Profile America is in its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.