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D.C. guided tours almost always include a visit to the Smithsonian Museums and Zoo. The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum and research complex. Smithsonian entities include 19 museums and galleries, in addition to the National Zoological Park. These centers of learning are cornerstones for any sightseeing tour. Best of all, admission is free for the public. Keep reading to learn more about the initial founding, general history, and recent events in the Smithsonian legacy.

Smithsonian Institution

Initial Founding

As you will learn on D.C. guided tours, the Smithsonian Institution was established with funds from James Smithson. Smithson was a British scientist who left his estate to the United States, which was a new country at the time. Washington D.C. tours point out that Smithson sought to create “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge”. Given that Smithson contributed half a million dollars, or 1/66 of the federal budget at the time, he likely anticipated the day when day tours would visit his learning centers.

General History

The Smithsonian Institution was officially founded over 164 years ago. After years of sometimes heated debate between presidents and Congress, a federal law finally established the Smithsonian Institution. The first act of the Smithsonian Institution was to build an institutional home. Now accessible for school field trips and sightseeing tours, the Norman “Castle” is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Recent Events

The Smithsonian has gone through several periods of expansion and growth. In 1964, a new history museum was built. Today, that museum is the National Museum of American History. New wings were also added to the National History Building, which is now the National Museum of Natural History. In the 1960s, the National Zoological Park was created.

Haymarket Transportation offers D.C. guided tours throughout Washington, D.C. Our experienced tour guides and transportation experts offer educational tour services, school field trips, guided bus tours, and more. Whether you want to see D.C. in comfort and style or learn about local history from the very best tour guides, call us at 301-778-2007.