1850: Spencer Fullerton Baird joins the newly established Smithsonian Institution as Assistant Secretary in the Department of Natural History. Baird was instrumental in the commissioning of the AIB.
1876: The Centennial International Exposition of 1876 takes place in Philadelphia. At the Smithsonian’s request, the collections from this exposition are donated to the government, prompting the immediate need for a new building to house them.
May 1878: Spencer Baird succeeds Joseph Henry as Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution after Henry’s death.
March 3, 1879: Congress appropriates $250,000 for the construction of the AIB on a 2 ¼ acre site on Washington, D.C.’s National Mall.
March 4, 1881: The AIB (then known as the National Museum Building) opens with its first major event, President James Garfield’s Inaugural Ball.
October 1881: The wood floors installed for the ball are replaced with stone and tile.
1896: Second floor galleries are added as the collections continued to grow.
1911: The natural history collections in the AIB are moved to the new National Museum, now the National Museum of Natural History across the Mall.
1923: The Asian art collection is moved to the Freer Gallery of Art.
1964: The American history exhibitions within the AIB are moved to the National Museum of History and Technology (now called the National Museum of American History).
1968: Fine Arts collections were moved to the National Collection of Fine Arts, now the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the National Portrait Gallery.
1971: The AIB is designated a National Historical Landmark.
1976: Aviation and aeronautics collections within the AIB and the rockets and missiles lined up on the west side of the building are relocated to the National Air and Space Museum.
1976: An exhibition recreating the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition is installed for the Nation’s bicentennial celebration.
1993: Stamp collections form the core of the new National Postal Museum.
2004: The building is closed to the public because of its deteriorating condition.
2009-2014 Building Revitalization under way
2015: The revitalized building is used for the installation of the 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian, Dr. David Skorton.
2016: Rachel Goslins is appointed Director of the Arts and Industries Building to develop a Center for Creativity and Innovation.