The National Museum of American Wizardry is one of the older museums of the Smithsonian Institution. It opened on March 17, 1910 along with the new U.S. National Museum in the building that now houses the National Museum of Natural History. Unknown to Muggle visitors, the two museums share this gold-domed building. The entrance to the Museum of American Wizardry has moved several times to accommodate changing exhibits in the Museum of Natural History.
James Smithson’s supposed death did not put an end to his work. While Muggle bureaucracy delayed and debated enacting his bequest to the American people, Smithson saw to a more sensitive aspect of his planned institution. He founded the Smithsonian Institute of Magical Knowledge as a secret branch of the Muggle Smithsonian Institute. SIMK’s first mission was to protect Muggles from unwitting contact with magical relics and artifacts. As the Smithsonian’s collections grew, a team from SIMK combed through each donation, removing any objects that might prove dangerous or violate the Statute of Secrecy. SIMK’s staff cataloged these artifacts and stored them in a special vault under the Smithsonian Castle. By the twentieth century, SIMK had acquired such a large collection that the establishment of a museum became the Institute’s new goal.
Over a century has passed since the founding of the National Museum of American Wizardry, but SIMK continues to in its dedication to its original mission. SIMK curators often advise their Muggle counterparts, who believe them to be specialists of one kind or another. This close contact between the two Institutions has forced SIMK historians to learn the ins and outs of Muggle museum practices. In recent years, collaboration with Muggle curators has led to an anti-magic movement among the SIMK ranks. While magical means of preservation and learning an object’s history are much more efficient than non-magical methods, questions have been raised about the long-term integrity of artifacts. Normally, every object undergoes a barrage of spells upon its acquisition, but does the casting of these spells change the nature of the artifact? Some members of SIMK say the magical miasma surrounding the collections could cause untold damage. They claim the oldest objects are already showing signs of magical tampering. In response, at least one curatorial wizard has sought further education in Muggle museum studies. Officially, SIMK has not acknowledged the growing schism between factions of the Institute’s staff.
-Assistant Curator, National Museum of American Wizardry