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Ekstrom Library

Government Resources: Education: Museums

Kentucky Military History Museum

Kentucky Military History Museum

The Kentucky Military History Museum emphasizes the service of the Kentucky Militia, State Guard, and other volunteer military organizations, from the Revolution through the Gulf War.

Displays include an impressive collection of firearms, edged weapons, artillery, uniforms, flags, photographs, personal items, and other equipment that illustrates the Commonwealth's martial heritage. The KMHM is operated by the Kentucky National Guard and the Kentucky Historical Society.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky constructed the Old State Arsenal in 1850 to house the weapons and equipment of the Kentucky Militia. Designed by Kentuckian N.C. Cook, the two-story brick Gothic-Revival "castle" stands on a cliff overlooking the Kentucky River and the downtown area. In 1973, the Old State Arsenal became the home of the Kentucky Military History Museum. (Commonwealth of Kentucky)

Smithsonian Institution

In 1826, James Smithson, a British scientist, drew up his last will and testament, naming his nephew as beneficiary. Smithson stipulated that, should the nephew die without heirs (as he would in 1835), the estate should go “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.”

Smithson died in 1829, and six years later, President Andrew Jackson announced the bequest to Congress. On July 1, 1836, Congress accepted the legacy bequeathed to the nation and pledged the faith of the United States to the charitable trust. In September 1838, Smithson’s legacy, which amounted to more than 100,000 gold sovereigns, was delivered to the mint at Philadelphia. Recoined in U.S. currency, the gift amounted to more than $500,000.

After eight years of sometimes heated debate, an Act of Congress signed by President James K. Polk on Aug. 10, 1846, established the Smithsonian Institution as a trust to be administered by a Board of Regents and a Secretary of the Smithsonian. (Source: Smithsonian).

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