Speaking of gifts, one of the greatest ever, is that of the Smithsonian Institutionin Washington DC. I lived in DC for 3 years and have spent countless hours soaking up the richness of this gift of science, art, nature and humanity. Yet, until this moment, I didn’t know anything about the vision and founding of what is the world’s largest museum and research institution in the world. With 19 museums, the National Zoo and nine research facilities, it is, in my eyes, our nation’s most incredible gift, envisioned by James Smithson, a British scientist born in 18th century Paris. What is most astonishing to me is, he never set foot in America even though he was a well educated and well traveled gentleman. Because he never expressed why, there is much speculation about what prompted his decision to leave his fortune in a trust to create this institution. Twenty years after his death, the Smithsonian was founded and named in his honor. Would he not be astounded with the reach and might of his gift which millions and millions of people from all around the world treasure; he has touched us and greatly enhanced our lives with enlightenment, wonder, knowledge, inspiration, and joy. (Pictured above is the rotunda of the National Gallery of Art.)
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