During Broadmead Resident Howard Toy's 15-year tenure as Personnel Director of the Smithsonian Institute, the size of his department increased from 30 to 70, and the number of jobs it oversaw swelled from 3,100 to 7,200.
That statistic indicates the growth and diversity of the trust, which is not operated by the U.S. Government but by a board of regents that includes the Supreme Court Chief Justice. It was established by an Act of Congress in 1846 after a windfall 1835 bequest of 105 sacks of gold sovereigns, which was a political football for nine years.
James Smithson, illegitimate son of the Duke of Northumberland, snubbed his native land by leaving his fortune to the United States to establish an institution "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men." He was piqued that British law, among other perceived injustices, prevented him from assuming his father's title. After recounting this history, Howard said that the institute has many entities which most people don't realize are in its realm, such as The National Zoo in Washington.
There are 14 other museums and galleries in D.C., some well-known like the Museum of Natural History; some obscure like the National Postal Museum. In New York, there are two museums and a school of design. Other endeavors include a tropical research center in Panama and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory operated jointly with Harvard University. The institute is considering opening a branch in London.
-- Story by Bob Heaton