149: Louvre and Smithsonian

"Louvre Museum Wikimedia Commons" by Benh LIEU SONG - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Louvre_Museum_Wikimedia_Commons.jpg#/media/File:Louvre_Museum_Wikimedia_Commons.jpg
Louvre Museum and pyramid (Photo by Benh Lieu Song via Wikimedia Commons)

Today is the anniversary of two of the world’s great museums, the Louvre and the Smithsonian Institution.

First, the Louvre opened in Paris on this date in 1793. The building was originally constructed as a fortress in the 12th century by Phillip the Second. The museum opened one year after the fall of the French monarchy. Originally the collection included 537 paintings and 184 other works of art, three-quarters of which came from royal collections. The museum now displays 35,000 works of art and averages 15,000 visitors per day, making it the world’s most-visited museum.

Second, U.S. President James K. Polk signed legislation in 1846 to create the Smithsonian Institution, which would go on to become the world’s largest museum organization. It is named after British scientist James Smithson, who left about $500,000 to the United States to establish an institute “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” After collecting the bequest, the money was invested in bonds issued by the state of Arkansas which would eventually default. The U.S. Congress, at the urging of former president John Quincy Adams, replaced the funds with interest. The Smithsonian now consists of 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoo.

Our question, What’s the newest Smithsonian museum?

Today is also: International Biodiesel Day, Air Force Day in Argentina and in the U.S., it is national S’Mores Day. It is the birthday of former U.S. president Herbert Hoover, guitar maker Leo Fender, author Jorge Amado, and singer Ronnie Spector.


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