History of Use
Natural history museums had relatively few precedents in the United States before the 19th century, when the modern concept of a museum began to take shape.
Through the Arts and Industries Building (AIB), the Smithsonian Institution played a very important part in defining how to research, preserve, and interpret collections, and the importance of sharing these collections with the public.
The AIB has served a variety of uses in its existence. It was the original home of the National Museum; it has also hosted an inaugural ball, and served as an “incubator” for other Smithsonian Institution museums.
One of its most popular exhibits was in celebration of the Bi-Centennial which reinstalled many of the original objects from Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876.