The following is reprinted from Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges Into History Again Smithsonian Castle in Washington Mall, in HDR by jculverhouse [Flickr] You 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 African Art.
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.
45.52 - 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 Institution.
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.
|The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges Into History Again. The book is a compendium of entertaining information chock-full of facts on a plethora of history topics. Uncle John's first plunge into history was a smash hit - over half a million copies sold! And this sequel gives you more colorful characters, cultural milestones, historical hindsight, groundbreaking events, and scintillating sagas. Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. Check out their website here: Bathroom Reader Institute|