This week in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. was established by the United States Congress as an institute of learning. An Englishman, James Smithson, made it possible to create the eponymous institute with his gift of $500,000. It was an enormous amount of money back then.
The Smithsonian Institution supports a wide variety of research projects and publications. It also houses the national museums of natural history, technology, art and history. One of the most popular is the National Air Museum which contains the Wright Brothers original biplane.
It is the world's largest museum and research complex and includes 19 museums and galleries as well as the National Zoological Park. Most Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are free and open every day of the year except December 25.
The Smithsonian has something for everyone from every era. You can find Archie Bunker’s chair and Fonzie's leather jack among other treasures. It provides a much better experience than Disney World or any other amusement park, especially for school age children, from first grade through college.
If you are in the area, plan to spend a few days. If you are not in the area, there is much you can still learn from the comfort of your armchair and the Internet. You will be surprised at what you can learn. One of the few places around DC that is refreshingly free of politics.