The Smithsonian Institution has grown and prospered since the first edition of this book appeared in 1970, and Paul Oehser's revised edition is badly needed. New and expanded structures (the Air and Space Museum, the Hirshhorn, the National Museum of American Art, the National Portrait Gallery) and new undertakings (Smithsonian magazine, the Handbook of North American Indians series, the Woodrow Wilson Center, and prestigious symposia) richly serve the original purpose James Smithson envisioned in his will: " To found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men." The heart of Oehser's original work has been left intact in this second edition. His is the only survey that combines the dramatic story of the Smithsonian's influence and expansion with the behind-the-scenes details of daily operations, structure, and administrative problems. The book has been updated to include all important developments of the last thirteen years, as well as to describe current plans for future expansion and program additions. The whole picture leads one to the conclusion that the world's largest museum complex, housing over seventy million objects, has succeeded—despite its air of old-fashioned traditionalism—in reflecting the adventure of the American experience and the insatiable curiosity and dynamics of the American spirit.
Table of Contents
Westview Library of Federal Departments, Agencies, and Systems -- Foreword -- Preface -- The Beginnings: James Smithson, his will and the Congress of the United States -- Joseph Henry, His "Programme," and the Early Years -- The Continuum -- "The Smithsonian is not a Museum" -- Museums as Repositories and as Centers of Learning -- Smithsonian Research -- Galleries and the Arts -- Publications, Information, and the Performing Arts -- The Buildings -- The Smithsonian's Finances and Friends -- Quo Vadimus? -- Career Opportunities at the Smithsonian -- Selected Smithsonian Publications -- An Act to Establish the "Smithsonian Institution," for the Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge Among Men -- Joseph Henry's "Programme of Organization" for the Smithsonian Institution
"Paul H. Oehserserved as editor of the publications of the United States National Museum, as chief of the Editorial and Publications Division (now the Smithsonian Institution Press), and as public-relations officer for the Institution. Louise Heskett, editor and research associate for this edition of the book, was a senior editor at the Smithsonian Institution Press until her retirement in 1981."