Spencer Fullerton Baird had dreamed of establishing a museum specifically dedicated to natural history ever since his arrival at the Smithsonian’s Department of Natural History in 1850. He classified and arranged exhibits, collaborated with other institutions across the country and worldwide, trained naturalists in the collection of specimens, and lobbied unwaveringly for the construction of a separate building to house the Smithsonian Institution’s expanding collection.
The Realization of a Lifelong Dream
The National Museum Building’s official opening in 1881 marked the successful culmination of Baird’s 30-year mission – a mission that even Joseph Henry, the Smithsonian’s first director who had originally been so adamantly against the idea of a separate, Smithsonian-managed museum – eventually came to appreciate. Learn more about Baird’s dream.