Snapshot: Bells, Gemini VI, 1965

Bells, Gemini VI, 1965— National Air and Space Museum These bells are part of the harmonica and bell set carried by astronauts Walter “Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford aboard Gemini VI in December 1965. The Gemini’s mission was to test its docking and maneuvering capability. About five hours after its rendezvous with Gemini VII and… Continue reading Snapshot: Bells, Gemini VI, 1965


December 17, 1912

The Star-Spangled Banner is accessioned into the permanent collection of the United States National Museum. The flag was first loaned to the museum July 9, 1907 by Eben Appleton, grandson of Major George Armistead, the defender of Fort McHenry. In 1912, Appleton decided to make a permanent gift of the flag to the museum.


December 16, 1976

“Person to Person,” an exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of the telephone, opens at the National Museum of History and Technology, now the National Museum of American History. The exhibition is a multimedia display showing how lifestyle and technology affected the development of person-to-person communication. Everything from simple voice transmitter devices to complex communications systems… Continue reading December 16, 1976


December 15, 1890

The “Statue of Freedom” plaster figure designed by sculptor Thomas Crawford in Rome and used to cast the statue atop of the United States Capitol Building is given to the Smithsonian Institution. The statue first came to Washington, D.C., in 1858 and was placed in the old hall of the House of Representatives, then in… Continue reading December 15, 1890


December 14, 1993

Kumari, an Asian elephant, is born to Shanthi at the National Zoological Park. She is the first elephant to be born at the Zoo. Unfortunately, Kumari dies on April 26, 1995. Research uncovers a herpes virus as the cause of death. This research is used to save the lives of young elephants born in other… Continue reading December 14, 1993


December 13, 1847

The Board of Regents adopts Secretary Joseph Henry’s “Programme of Organization of the Smithsonian Institution.” Henry’s plan contains 14 guiding considerations, including the suggestion that the Smithsonian only undertake programs that cannot be adequately carried out by existing United States institutions. A key feature of the plan is the publication of Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge… Continue reading December 13, 1847


December 12, 1992

A new permanent exhibition, “Where Next, Columbus?” opens at the National Air and Space Museum. This is the final exhibition in the 1992 Quincentenary commemoration of Columbus’ voyages. The exhibition focuses on the challenges and opportunities of the next 500 years of space exploration. It deals largely with the many technical and physiological challenges that… Continue reading December 12, 1992


December 11, 1980

The Academy of Sciences of the People’s Republic of China (Academia Sinica) and the Smithsonian Institution sign an agreement to foster joint research and other exchanges. Secretary S. Dillon Ripley and Academy Vice President Qian Sanqiang sign the agreement, which is written in both Chinese and English.

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