- a US national institution that consists of several museums and centres for scientific research in Washington, DC. It was established in 1846 by the US ↑Congress with money given by James Smithson (1765–1829), an English scientist. Its popular name is ‘the nation’s attic’. The 12 major museums, most of which are situated along the ↑Mall, include the ↑National Air and Space Museum, the ↑National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of American Art, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of American History. The ↑Kennedy Center is an independent part of the Smithsonian.
Useful english dictionary. 2012.