London based Smithsonian museum to open at former Olympics site?

The Smithsonian, one of America's most prestigious institutions, is in talks to set up a museum at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

The former site of the London 2012 Olympics is to be developed as a new cultural hub and will feature outposts from a range of institutions, including the V&A and Sadler's Wells, alongside new university campuses.

Smithsonian building DC
The Smithsonian Institution Building stands close to the National Mall in Washington DC

The project is being touted as "Olympicopolis" or "Borisopolis", drawing links with the area of South Kensington dubbed "Albertopolis" - so named for the wealth of museums and cultural facilities built in the area by Prince Albert during the 19th century.

The mayor of London Boris Johnson announced last year: "The idea behind Olympicopolis is simple and draws on the extraordinary foresight of our Victorian ancestors.

"We want to use Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as a catalyst for the industries and technologies in which London now leads the world in order to create thousands of new jobs."

The Smithsonian was founded in 1846 after James Smithson, a British scientist, left his entire fortune "to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge among men."

The institution's 19 museums cover everything from the arts to the sciences and contain a combined total of 137m artefacts.

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