Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/814

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
788
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The Smithsonian Institution and the National Museum.—The will of Smithson in founding this institution contained but one proviso regarding its organization, that it was to be "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge." The museum feature was purely incidental: specimens were sent, accompanying questions that were addressed to the institution; they were preserved, and with the collection of birds brought by Baird from the Pacific Railroad expedition formed the beginning of a museum. These objects, growing rapidly in number at the return of each expedition, were taken care of in the Smithsonian building, until the large gifts received from many foreign governments and private exhibitors at the Centennial Exposition in 1876 made it necessary to erect a separate building, which is now known as the National Museum.

Prof. Goode, who was wisely placed in charge of the collection, secured at once the assistance of volunteer curators to supplement the museum staff, and with their co-operation elaborated and perfected a scheme which may be called, in its fruition, an Anthropological Kindergarten. Prof. Goode considers as the central point Man, and aims to illustrate as far as possible the development of everything that contributes to his welfare, comfort, or amusement, that is hurtful or beneficial to him, or that affects his moral or aesthetic nature. No monstrosity finds a place, nor does any object of sentimental association receive a welcome.

The first successful attempt to embrace the whole science of anthropology under one systematic classification was made by Prof. O. T. Mason. Its adoption as the basis for the Smithsonian exhibit at the Centennial gave to it the importance it deserves. It is, with such modifications as its practical application have suggested, now followed in the National Museum, where Prof. Mason has charge of the department of anthropology, and has given to the Anthropological Society of Washington its principal divisions.

The science of anthropology is now divided between the National Museum and the Army Medical Museum, in contiguous buildings, as follows: All specimens belonging to the biological side of the science, collected by the National Museum, are placed in the Army Medical Museum. This includes anatomy, physiology, embryology, anthropometry, and kindred topics.

On the other hand, all specimens illustrative of languages, arts, sociology, customs, beliefs, etc., of man, gathered by the army, are deposited in the National Museum. In this way, the two institutions work in harmony, and do not duplicate each other's work.

The division of anthropology in the National Museum is organized into departments of the Arts and Industries of Mankind, in which are included, in their several sections, medicinal