Awards and Medals

The James Smithson Bicentennial Medal
Medal with Smithson in profile

The James Smithson Bicentennial Medal
The James Smithson Bicentennial Medal, established in 1965 in honor of the 200th anniversary of Smithson's birth, is given under the Secretary's authority to persons who have made distinguished contributions to the advancement of areas of interest to the Smithsonian. It is James Smithson's visionary bequest that established the Smithsonian Institution. The list of recent recipients—69 since 1990—are:


2016 Jeff Bezos 1997 Patrick J. MGovern
2015 Sebastian Thrun   Hal Prince
  Ellsworth Kelly   Jim Henson
2014 Ralph Lauren   George Lucas
2013 Robert Gardner  1996 Chuck Jones
2012 Clint Eastwood   Walter Cronkite
2010 Jibreel Khazan   Sir Colin Marshall 
  (formerly Ezell Blair Jr.)   Pete Seeger
  Franklin McCain    Les Paul
  Joseph McNeil   Julia Child
  David Richmond    James Whitmore
2009 Claude Lévi-Strauss   Jacques Cousteau
2007 Patricia B. Wolf   Don Ricardo Alegria
  Raul Yzaguirre   Dale Chihuly
  Robert H. Rosenblum  1995 Gene Carl Feldman
  (posthumously)  1992 Hal Roach
2006 Malcolm Bilson   Rosemary Clooney
  Jorge Ruiz  1990 Yevgeny Yevtushenko
2005 Stephen W. Hawking   Tomie dePaola
  Skitch Henderson   Betty Carter
  Anner Bylsma   Tito Puente
2004 Sir David Attenborough   Robert Redford
  Maestro Jaap Schroeder   Robert Jastrow
2003 Ellen Ochoa   Richard E. Leakey
  Artie Shaw    Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson
  Olga Guillot   John Birks Gillespie
2002 David N. Baker   International Poetry Forum
  Antonia C. Novello, M.D.   Helen Hayes
2001 Henry Z. Steinway   Hank Jones
  Dolores Huerta   Gordon Parks
  Celia Cruz   George W. Gross
2000 Dave Brubeck   Geoffrey Holder
  Jerry Lee Lewis   Emerson String Quartet
  Billy Joel   David Macaulay
1999 Steven Spielberg   20th Century Consort
  Katherine Dunham    
  Alberto Rex Gonzalez    
1998 Leslie Casson Stevens    
  Sir Edmund Hillary    
  Johnny Smith    
1997 Wilcomb C. Washburn    



Hodgkins Medal

Hodgkins Medal
The Hodgkins Medal, established in 1893 in honor of Thomas George Hodgkins, who willed his fortune to the Smithsonian, is awarded for important contributions to the understanding of the physical environment as it affects the welfare of man. Recipients include:


1980 - Luigi Giuseppe Jacchia
1978 - Alexander Dalgarno
1976 – E. Cuyler Hammond
1973 – Walter Orr Roberts
1971 – Lewis Mumford
1969 – Arie Haagen-Smith
1969 – Jule Gregory Charney
1967 – Fritz W. Went
1967 – John Grahame Douglas Clark
1965 – Joseph Kaplan
1965 – Marcel Nicolet
1965 – Sydney Chapman
1902 – J. J. Thomas
1899 – James Dewar

The Henry Medal

The Henry Medal
The Henry Medal is given for outstanding service, usually--but not always--to someone not on the staff by resolution of the Board of Regents. The medal was created in honor of Secretary Henry shortly after his death in 1878 by William Barber, the Engraver of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, and his son Charles E. Barber. The likeness was probably based on the Clark Mills bust of Henry and the latin inscription on the reverse is taken from the 24th Ode of Horace. It reads: "Incorrupta fides nudaque veritas, Quando ullum inveniet parem?" (When shall Loyalty unshaken, and candid Truth e'er find a peer to him?). It is presented to individuals in recognition of their distinguished service, achievements or contributions to the prestige and growth of the Smithsonian Institution. The Henry Medal and the Smithson Medal have similar purposes, however, the Smithson Medal recognizes contributions to history, art, science, education, etc., at a universal level, whereas the Henry recognizes those contributions exclusively to the Institution.


2014 - Eva Pell
2012 - Cristián Samper
2011 - Roger G. Kennedy
2011 - Ira Rubinoff
2007 - W. Richard West Jr.
2004 - Irwin I. Shapiro
2000 - Michael Robinson
2000 - Constance Berry Newman
1998 - Tomás Ybarra-Frausto
1997 - Frederick Seitz
1996 - William G. Bowen
1995 - Sidney R. Yates
1995 - Peter G. Powers
1994 - Lloyd G. Schermer
1991 - Neil Harris
1991 - Joseph B. Bonsignore
1991 - John F. Jameson
1991 - Eloise Spaeth
1990 - August Heckscher

1988 - David Challinor
1987 - Lisa M. Taylor
1985 - Daniel P. Moynihan
1984 - Mary L. Ripley
1983 - Warren Robbins
1983 - George B. Field
1981 - William A. M. Burden
1980 - Gordon N. Ray
1980 - Caryl Parker Haskins
1979 - Porter M. Kier
1977 - Hubert H. Humphrey
1976 - T. Dale Stewart
1976 - Martin H. Moynihan
1975 - John Nicholas Brown
1973 - Fred L. Whipple
1973 - Edward K. Thompson
1970 - Charles G. Abbot
1968 - Frank A. Taylor
1967 - David E. Finley


The James Smithson Medal

The James Smithson Medal
The James Smithson Medal, the Smithsonian Institution's most prestigious and highest award, was established in 1965 in honor of its founder, James Smithson. It is given in recognition of exceptional contributions to art, science, history, education and technology. Reserved for the most outstanding achievements, this medal has been presented only nine times in the last 31 years. The list of Smithson Medal recipients is as follows:


2015 - G. Wayne Clough
1999 - I. Michael Heyman
1994 - Robert McC. Adams
1991 - Julie Johnson Kidd
1986 - Chief Justice Warren E. Burger
1979 - His Holiness, Pope John Paul II

1976 - Nancy Hanks
1976 - Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II
1968 - Edgar P. Richardson
1965 - Lord Howard W. Florey


Order of James Smithson

Order of James Smithson
The Board of Regents established the Order of James Smithson in 1983 to recognize transcendent donations. The Order, which is inspired by the gifts of Arthur M. Sackler and Mrs. Enid A. Haupt, has been awarded only nine times.

The Smithsonian National Board proposes nominees for the Order of James Smithson to the Secretary, who notifies the nominees of their election. The members' formal investiture takes place at a Board of Regents dinner. Each becomes a life member of the James Smithson Society, and his or her presence at Smithson Society annual banquets is recognized by the Chancellor and, or the Secretary. Recipients include:

2006 - Fred W. Smith
2002 - Dorothy G. Lemelson
2000 - Steven F. Udvar-Hazy
1999 - Ikuo Hirayama
1998 - Kenneth E. Behring
1985 - Sarah Roby
1984 - S. Dillon Ripley
1984 - Enid A. Haupt
1984 - Arthur M. Sackler


Langley Gold Medal

Langley Gold Medal
The Board of Regents established the Langley Gold Medal in 1908 at the suggestion of Dr. Alexander Graham Bell to honor the memory of Samuel P. Langley, the third Secretary of the Institution and a famous pioneer in aeronautics. The medal is awarded for meritorious investigations in connection with the science of aerodromics and its application to aviation. Recipients include:


1999 - Neil Armstrong, Edwin A.
           "Buzz" Aldrin, Michael Collins
           (the crew of Apollo 11)
1992 - Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.
1987 - Barry Goldwater
1983 - Jay Coburn
1983 - H. Ross Perot Jr.
1981 - Robert T. Jones
1981 - Charles Stark Draper
1976 - James E. Webb
1976 - Grover Loening
1971 - Samuel Phillips
1967 - Wernher von Braun
1964 - Alan B. Shepard Jr.
1962 - Hugh Latimer Dryden
1960 - Robert H. Goddard
1955 - Jerome Clarke Hunsaker
1935 - Joseph S. Ames
1929 - Richard Evelyn Byrd
1929 - Charles Matthews Manly
1927 - Charles A. Lindbergh