The Smithsonian: 150 Years of Adventure, Discovery, and Wonder

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9780679441755: The Smithsonian: 150 Years of Adventure, Discovery, and Wonder

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From Booklist:

A gala celebration of all that stuff in America's attic, which, in the Smithsonian's omnidirectional collection philosophy, includes Lincoln's hat and lunch boxes, Allosaurus, and Kermit the Frog. A fervent admirer of the institution, Conaway backstops the 400 photos with a narrative of the place's beginning in James Smithson's bequest "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge." Constant redefining of that mission, first evident as officials wrangled over whether to build a library, a museum, or a laboratory, has built up the eclectic collections and activities of the Smithsonian ever since the Castle was built a century and a half ago. Consequently, the photo subjects so shift around to various enthusiasms--paleontology, political paraphernalia, industrial technologies--that viewing this album is akin to leafing through a year's worth of Smithsonian magazines. There's something for everyone, as a circus impresario might say, but the Smithsonian is in more than just the entertainment business: sidebars relate its scientific expeditions over the years, while profiles of notable directors and staffers add a human touch to this diverse, glossy tribute to D.C.'s most popular attraction. Gilbert Taylor

From Library Journal:

It is still somewhat of a mystery why James Smithson, an English scientist, stipulated in his 1826 will that $500,000 was to be given to America, a country he had never visited, to be used for a building to function "in the increase and diffusion of knowledge." The Smithsonian is still following this mission. The combined museum now includes the National Air and Space Museum, National Zoological Park, National Museum of Natural History, the Hirshorn Collection, and the Museum of the American Indian (opening in 2001). Generally referred to as the "Nation's Attic," the Smithsonian boasts over 140 million artifacts, from the "Spirit of St. Louis" to Fort McHenry's flag to moon rocks. Conaway (Napa, LJ 9/15/90), who started out as a weekend visitor to the museums, offers a behind-the-scenes look at one of America's most visited sites. This lavishly illustrated work is published in conjunction with the Smithsonian's sesquicentennial. Highly recommended.?Joseph Hewgley, Nashville P.L.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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