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by Joe McMillan, 20 February 2000
The Smithsonian Institution was founded in 1846 on the basis of an 1826 bequest by James Smithson, who left his fortune to the United States government for the establishment of a scientific institution "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men." The Smithsonian now embraces the various national museums of the United States, the National Zoological Park, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and a wide range of other activities. Its flag is divided quarterly, dark blue and yellow, with a counterchanged circle in turn surmounted by a counterchanged sun. This flag is displayed atop the tower of the Institution headquarters, known as "The Castle," on the National Mall in Washington, as well as on poles in front of various of the Smithsonian museums.
The Smithsonian Institution formerly flew a banner of arms apparently derived from the arms of James Smithson. It was blue with a yellow sun and, on a white canton, a red demi-lion rampant guardant holding in its paws another yellow sun. I cannot swear that this is a complete description, however.
Joe McMillan, 20 February 2000