Is “Smithsonian Institute” ever correct? It seems I had once heard that it correctly applies to the buildings, but I’m not sure I’m remembering this right.
I believe the use of ‘institute’ in the title is the result of misinformed slang. Check’emout.
Yes, I saw this site. Was there something specifically you suggested I check out? i.e., a reference to “institute” being slang?
Nothing specific. I did an inclusive search ‘smithsonian’ and ‘institute’ and came up with no usage of ‘Smithsonian Institute’. They do have a great history of the SI. I did a tour of the 1886 SI and saw nothing in the exhibits or handbills that suggested it was ever called ‘Institute’. Nothing conclusive however.
Since I actually work for the Smithsonian Institution, I can assure you that that is the only form that is correct. “Smithsonian Institute” is simply a misinformed usage.
However, I do work for a research branch of the Smithsonian that is called the “Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.” AFAIK, this is the only branch of the Smithsonian that is properly called an Institute (but this applies only to this particular branch). We have a bunch of Museums, Galleries, Observatories, and Centers, but the Institution has only one Institute.