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The increase and diffusion of knowledge.
The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum complex and research organization. Composed of 19 museums and a many additional research centers in this country and around the world, the Smithsonian was created by an act of Congress in 1846. In accordance with the terms of the will of James Smithson of England, the Institution's mission is "the increase and diffusion of knowledge." It carries out this mission through innovative research, expanding and strengthening its national collections, developing and building new facilities, opening state-of-the-art exhibitions, and reaching out to America's many diverse communities.
Seventeen Smithsonian museums and the Zoo are in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and two museums are located in New York City. The newest Smithsonian museum to be established is the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which will be located on or near the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian is the guardian of many of America's greatest artistic, scientific, and historic treasures. Supported by authoritative scholarship, the Institution connects Americans to their cultural heritage and also acts as an international leader in scientific research and exploration.
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