Editor Michael Caruso (editor-in-chief) Categories History, science, arts, nature Frequency Monthly Total circulation
1,840,077 First issue April 1970; 51 years ago (1970-04) Company Smithsonian Institution Country United States Based in Washington, D.C., U.S. Language English Website www.smithsonianmag.com ISSN 0037-7333
The history of Smithsonian began when Edward K. Thompson, the retired editor of Life magazine, was asked by the then-Secretary of the Smithsonian, S. Dillon Ripley, to produce a magazine "about things in which the Smithsonian [Institution] is interested, might be interested or ought to be interested."
Thompson would later recall that his philosophy for the new magazine was that it "would stir curiosity in already receptive minds. It would deal with history as it is relevant to the present. It would present art, since true art is never dated, in the richest possible reproduction. It would peer into the future via coverage of social progress and of science and technology. Technical matters would be digested and made intelligible by skilled writers who would stimulate readers to reach upward while not turning them off with jargon. We would find the best writers and the best photographers—not unlike the best of the old Life."
In 1973, the magazine turned a profit for the first time. By 1974, circulation had nearly quadrupled, to 635,000, and it reached the one million milestone in 1975—one of the most successful launches of its time. In 1980, Thompson was replaced by Don Moser, who had also worked at Life, and circulation reached upwards of two million, in turn, by Carey Winfrey upon his retirement in 2001.
Every year since 2012, the magazine has sponsored the American Ingenuity Awards, a recognition of innovation in the arts, sciences and technology. Winners have included Bryan Stevenson, Elon Musk, Lin-Manuel Miranda, OK Go, John Krasinski, Dave Eggers, Aziz Ansari, Rosanne Cash, Jeff Bezos, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and David Lynch.
The American Ingenuity Award itself was created by the artist Jeff Koons.
Every year since 2003, Smithsonian magazine has run an international photography contest. Tens of thousands of images are submitted from over a hundred countries.
2019 Winners: Jon Enoch (Grand Prize), Matt Gillespie (Reader's Choice), Conor Ryan (Natural World), Yam G-Jun (People), Natnattcha Chaturapitamorn (Travel), Terrell Groggins (The American Experience), Dasha Pears (Altered Images), and Victoria Gorelchenko (Mobile).
2018 Winners: Rory Doyle (Grand Prize), Carla Rhodes (Reader's Choice), Anuroop Krishnan (Natural World), Willem Kuijpers (People), Denis Karasev (Travel), Jassen Todorov (The American Experience), Daniel Garay (Altered Images), and Kelley Dallas (Mobile).
2017 Winners: Thong Huu (Grand Prize), Sara Jacoby (Reader's Choice), Oreon Strusinski (Natural World), Dan Fenstermacher (American Experience), Tran Tuan Viet (Travel), Seyed Mohammad Sadegh Hosseini (People), Adam Żądło (Altered Images) and Mohammad Mohsenifar (Mobile).
2016 Winners: Pradeep Raja Kannaiah (Grand Prize), Milan Sachs (Reader's Choice), Prelena Soma Owen (Natural World), Stephanie Foden (American Experience), Peter Nutkins (Travel), Greta Rybus (Sustainable Travel), João Borges (People), Jim Mneymneh (Altered Images) and Alina Rudya (Mobile).
2015 Winners: Albert Ivan Damanik (Grand Prize), Alice Van Kempen (Reader's Choice), Hidetoshi Ogata (Natural World), Lauren Pond (American Experience), Tamina-Florentine Zuch (Travel), Tihomir Trichkov (Sustainable Travel), Benedetta Ristori (People), Radim Schreiber (Altered Images), and Jian Wang (Mobile).
2014 Winners: Pham Ty (Grand Prize), Nicolas Reusens (Reader's Choice), Lorenzo Mittiga (Natural World), Olivier Douliery (American Experience), David Martín Huamaní Bedoya (Travel), Joydeep Mukherjee (People), Jefflin Ling (Altered Images), and Yilang Peng (Mobile).
2013 Winners: Sergio Carbajo Rodriguez (Grand Prize), Candy Feng (Reader's Choice), Graham McGeorge (Natural World), Willie Huang (American Experience), Nidal Adnan Kibria (Travel), Simon Morris (People), Shamma Esoof (Altered Images), and Cesar Rodriguez (Mobile).
Notable past and current contributors to Smithsonian have included:
- Jim Romenesko (October 19, 2011). "Caruso named Smithsonian editor-in-chief". Romenesko+. The Poynter Institute. Archived from the original on October 22, 2011. RetrievedOctober 19, 2011.
- "AAM: Total Circ for Consumer Magazines". Alliance for Audited Media. RetrievedOctober 27, 2016.
- "Top 100 U.S. Magazines by Circulation"(PDF). PSA Research Center. Archived from the original(PDF) on November 15, 2016. RetrievedFebruary 6, 2016.
- Winfrey, Carey (October 2005), Noxious Bogs & Amorous Elephants: Smithsonian's birth, 35 years ago, only hinted at the splendors to follow, Smithsonian, archived from the original on February 2, 2013
- "Smithsonian American Ingenuity Awards". Smithsonian.com. RetrievedJanuary 12, 2016.
- "About the Contest | Smithsonian Photo Contest". Smithsonian. RetrievedSeptember 23, 2020.
- "See the Winners and Finalists of the 17th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest: 2019 Winners". Smithsonian. RetrievedSeptember 23, 2020.
- "See the Winners and Finalists of the 16th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest: 2018 Winners". Smithsonian. RetrievedSeptember 23, 2020.
- "See the Winners and Finalists of the 15th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest!". Smithsonian. RetrievedMarch 28, 2018.
- "See the Winners and Finalists of the 14th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest". Smithsonian. RetrievedMarch 28, 2018.
- "Smithsonian Photo Contest 2015".
- "Smithsonian Photo Contest 2014".
- "Smithsonian Photo Contest 2013".