Jul
27

Today in Smithsonian History: July 27, 1862

Engraving shows interior and exterior views of the Patent Office Building. From Harper's Weekly, April 11, 1891, Volume XXXV, No. 1790, page 268, drawn by E. J. Meeker after photographs by Bell, Washington, D.C.

Engraving shows interior and exterior views of the Patent Office Building. From Harper’s Weekly, April 11, 1891, Volume XXXV, No. 1790, page 268, drawn by E. J. Meeker after photographs by Bell, Washington, D.C.

July 27, 1862 The charter of the National Institute for the Promotion of Science (1840-1862) expires, and in accordance with its act of incorporation, the remainder of its library and museum is delivered by the Secretary of the Interior to the Smithsonian Institution. Before the organization of the Smithsonian, the National Institute held the personal effects of James Smithson with a view to its gaining control of the Smithson bequest. The transfer also includes the collections of John Varden’s museum, including art works.

The engraving shows the Old Patent Office building, a Greek Revival structure built by Robert Mills between 1836 and 1866. It was designed to display the models that inventors submitted with their patent applications and also provided space for exhibits of public interest beyond patent models. The National Institute for the Promotion of Science collections were exhibited there from the 1840s to 1883. Their collections were transferred to the Smithsonian in 1858 and 1883 and became the core of its museums. The building was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958. In 1968, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery collections were moved to the old Patent Office Building which was named the Fine Arts and Portrait Galleries. In 2006, the renovated Patent Office Building became the Donald W. Reynolds Center.

Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Archives


Posted: 27 July 2017
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