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Our Mission

The increase and diffusion of knowledge

Badge of Office with owl and mission statement.

Our Vision

Shaping the future by preserving our heritage, discovering new knowledge, and sharing our resources with the world

Our Values

Discovery: Explore and bring to light new knowledge and ideas, and better ways of doing business

Creativity: Instill our work with imagination and innovation

Excellence: Deliver the highest-quality products and services in all endeavors

Diversity: Capitalize on the richness inherent in differences

Integrity: Carry out all our work with the greatest responsibility and accountability

Service: Be of benefit to the public and our stakeholders

Our Priorities

Focusing on Grand Challenges: Four challenges provide an overarching strategic framework for Smithsonian programs and operations.

  • Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe
  • Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet
  • Valuing World Cultures
  • Understanding the American Experience

Broadening Access: Digitizing our collections, exploring next-generation technologies, and improving the visitor experience

Revitalizing Education: Serve as a laboratory to create models and methods of innovative informal education that link to the formal education system

Crossing Boundaries: Interdisciplinary consortia spark innovative research and educational programs around each of the four grand challenges

Strengthening Collections: Develop collections plan to support Institution-wide initiatives

Organizational Excellence: Strengthen organizational services that allow us to deliver on our mission

Measuring Performance: Establish performance indicators that will specifically and annually measure progress toward our goals

Four Grand Challenges

Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe

Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe

We will continue to lead in the quest to understand the fundamental nature of the cosmos, using next-generation technologies to explore our own solar system, meteorites, the Earth's geological past and present, and the paleontological record of our planet.

Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet
Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet

We will use our resources across scientific museums and centers to significantly advance our knowledge and understanding of life on Earth, respond to the growing threat of environmental change, and sustain human well-being.

Valuing World Cultures
Valuing World Cultures
As a steward and ambassador of cultural connections, with a presence in some 100 countries and expertise and collections that encompass the globe, we will build bridges of mutual respect, and present the diversity of world cultures and the joy of creativity with accuracy, insight, and reverence.

Understanding the American Experience
Understanding the American Experience
America is an increasingly diverse society that shares a history, ideals, and an indomitable, innovative spirit. We will use our resources across disciplines to explore what it means to be an American and how the disparate experiences of individual groups strengthen the whole, and to share our story with people of all nations.