Welcome to the Smithsonian Institution!
The Smithsonian is happy to join the Flickr community. We look forward to your tags, comments, and general participation in this new venture. We will be adding more photos on a regular basis and hope you will often return to visit us.
The Smithsonian and Photography
Photography predates the founding of the Smithsonian by just a few years. The introduction of various photographic processes in the 1830s culminated in the development of the daguerreotype in 1839. From its founding in 1846, the Smithsonian adopted the camera to advance its mission, cataloging plant and animal species and documenting the grandeur of the American landscape and the continent’s original inhabitants. Photography brought the faraway near and made visible the previously invisible. Many of our photographs also serve as a historical record of the growth of the Institution.
The Photos You See Here
Only a very small percentage of our photographs presently exist in digital form, and many have not been fully researched and described. The photos you see here are a sample of the more than 13 million images in some seven hundred collections in our museums, archives, and research centers. These collections contain photographs collected from outside sources in addition to those taken by Smithsonian staff, and represent a broad range of subjects and themes in the fields of art, history, culture, and science.
Higher resolution versions of many of these images can be obtained from the Smithsonian. Follow the “Persistent URL” link located below each image for more information.
What Is the Smithsonian Institution?
The Smithsonian traces its roots to 1846 when the United States accepted a bequest from Englishman James Smithson to establish an institution “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.”
The Smithsonian Institution is now the largest museum and research complex in the world. It consists of 19 museums and galleries, 9 research centers, and the National Zoo. The Institution cares for an estimated 137 million historical artifacts, works of art, and natural history specimens; 1.5 million library volumes and rare books; 89,000 cubic feet of archival material; and more than 2,000 animals. Smithsonian experts conduct research in art, history, culture, science, and technology. To enhance public access to this research and our vast collections, Smithsonian professionals are digitizing as much as possible as rapidly as possible and making these assets available via the Web and other technologies—all in pursuit of the Smithsonian’s mission “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.”
To learn more about us, explore the Smithsonian’s website.
To search across the Smithsonian's museums, libraries, and archives, visit the
Collections Search Center.
- Seabirds 24,934 photos, 2,230 members
- 50th Anniversary of Women in Space 383 photos, 23 members
- Then and Now 8,921 photos, 550 members
- 2010 Smithsonian Folklife Festival 421 photos, 33 members
- Smithsonian Through Your Lens 2,576 photos, 307 members
- Eye for Science 2,882 photos, 144 members
- Timothy H. O'Sullivan 37 photos, 62 members
- Britain's Postal Heritage 2,076 photos, 285 members
- Geotagged : Vintage photographs (1945 or earlier) 4,740 photos, 158 members
- NPR Look At This 151,509 photos, 6,171 members
- ArchivesOnFlickr 11,313 photos, 324 members
- Expo Montagem - Exhibit Design 1,152 photos, 187 members
- William H. Johnson 69 photos, 4 members
- Gene Davis 59 photos, 4 members
- Three wheels better 5,657 photos, 521 members
- 2009 Smithsonian Staff Picnic 48 photos, 20 members
- National Museum of American History 3,918 photos, 394 members
- Extraordinary Cultures Around the World 335 photos, 14 members
- @1934 381 photos, 91 members
- USA.gov - Official U.S. Government Photostreams 1,687 photos, 83 members
- Disability History 457 photos, 87 members
- Encyclopedia of Life Images 227,359 photos, 3,751 members
- @Smithsonian Twitter Inspired Picture Share 10 photos, 9 members
- SIConnections/Lincoln in Your Hometown 87 photos, 23 members
- Smithsonian 2.0 Conference 339 photos, 38 members
- Flickr Commons 2,281 photos, 1,979 members
- Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery 1,475 photos, 258 members
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- Smithsonian Institution
- March 2008
- Washington, DC
- United States
- Museum and Research
- Smithsonian Institution