August 10, 1846: The Smithsonian Institution is Founded
Today in 1846, legislation for the Smithsonian Institution was signed into effect by President James K. Polk. It was founded with money left to the Unites States by British scientist James Smithson. After the death of his nephew, Smithson's estate was left "to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge among men." Today, the Smithsonian boasts over nineteen museums, nine research centers, and a zoo. Most provide general admission for no charge.