|The following is reprinted from Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges Into History Again
Smithsonian Castle in Washington Mall, in HDR by jculverhouse
haven't experienced American history until you've experienced the wonders
of the Smithsonian Institution.
Ironically, the Smithsonian came into being as a bequest to the United
States by British scientist James Smithson, who had never visited the
United States himself (while alive, anyhow - see below).
Here's a glimpse of this All-American institution, courtesy of Uncle
John's Bathroom Reader:
0 - Number of bag lunches you're allowed to take into
the Smithsonian. Collectively, there are more than 20 sit-down restaurants
among the Smithsonian museums, not counting outdoor courtyard grub.
2 - Percentage of the Smithsonian Institution's holdings
on display at any given time.
3 - Number of one-cent stamps affixed to the first piece
of mail flown across the Atlantic, which is housed in the Smithsonian's
National Postal Museum.
4.5 - Millions of botanical specimens housed by the
Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History; this represents around
8 percent of all plants collected in the United States.
17 - Number of museums that make up the Smithsonian.
Among others, these include the American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery,
the National Museum of the American Indian, the Freer Gallery of Art and
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (Asian art), the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture
Gallery (modern and contemporary art), and - whew! - the National Museum
of Natural History.
24 - Number of 2004 Smithsonian visitors, in millions.
25 - The number, in thousands, of Africana books in
the institution's Warren M. Robbins Library at the National Museum of
32 - The number of huge, metal buildings dedicated just
to restoring and storing aircraft on display at the Smithsonian's National
Air and Space Museum and related centers. Smithsonian airplanes include
the Enola Gay, the Wright 1903 Flyer, the Ryan NYP Spirit
of St. Louis, the Space Shuttle Enterprise, the Lockheed
SR-71 Blackbird, and the Concorde.
37.2 - Weight, in tons, of a section of Route 66 delivered
to the Hall of Transportation in the National Museum of American History
for a recent exhibit.
40 - Number, in thousands, of three-dimensional objects
housed in the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, including
Irish cut glass, Soviet porcelains, and Japanese sword fittings. The museum
has more than 250,000 objects - drawings, prints, books, and textiles
- all dedicated to the study of design.
- Number of carats in the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian Institution's
National Museum of Natural History. It glows in the dark after exposure
to UV rays and is semiconductive, too! If it truly belongs to the people
of America to enjoy, Mrs. Uncle John wants to know when it'll be her turn
to wear it out to dinner.
75 - Number of years after the institution's namesake,
James Smithson, died that Smithsonian regent, Alexander Graham Bell, brought
Smithson's body from his place of death in Italy to a tomb at the Smithsonian
100,000 - Amount of money, in British pound sterling,
that James Smithson originally willed to the United States upon his death
in 1826. This eventually became the financial start of the Smithsonian.
7,635,245 - That same willed amount adjusted to reflect
2002 U.S. dollars.
78,000,000 - Visitors that the website,
www.smithsonian.org [now www.si.edu -
Ed], hosted in 2004.
143,500,000 - Approximate number of objects, works of
art, and specimens in the Smithsonian Institution.