James Smithson Society

Become part of a dedicated group of Friends who make an annual gift of $2,500 or more.

James Smithson Society

"We think the James Smithson Society is a best-kept secret for anyone who is passionate about the Smithsonian." – Barbara Bonessa and Alan Perkins

James Smithson Society

As a James Smithson Society member, your annual gift offers a unique opportunity to connect with endeavors across the Smithsonian that are making a difference in the world.

  Join      Renew


James Smithson's Legacy

The Smithsonian Institution was founded through an extraordinary act of philanthropy. British scientist James Smithson (1765–1829) had a passion and a vision: he believed science and knowledge benefit people everywhere and that sharing them freely could change the world for the better. Although he never set foot in America, Smithson believed in the promise of a new nation, the United States, and that it would play an important role in human progress. 

Smithson bequeathed his entire estate, “to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” In 1846, Congress created the Smithsonian, which today is the world’s largest museum and research complex. Smithson never could have imagined the exciting discoveries and scholarship his generous gift made possible. 

We invite you to join the James Smithson Society and build on this remarkable legacy. As a member of a national community of philanthropists, you join others who provide significant support throughout the year to keep the institution they cherish at the forefront of discovery. Whether your passion is science, history, art or culture, you can pursue it at the Smithsonian.


The Impact of Your Giving

At no other institution does your philanthropy fuel groundbreaking work in as many disciplines — from leading research in science and history to distinguished scholarship in art and culture. Across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine research centers, the National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, we are preserving and conserving our nation’s heritage, saving species, discovering new planets, helping to sustain Earth’s biodiversity, providing educational experiences and telling the many stories of what it means to be American. You can help. 

Through your James Smithson Society membership, you can explore as an insider the breadth and depth of the Smithsonian while you provide critical support for the endeavors and outreach of every museum and research center. Your annual giving at this level provides a stable source of funding, which allows the institution to remain flexible and launch its most vital new initiatives.


Expanding Your Horizons

A James Smithson Society membership is an opportunity to build a lifelong relationship with the Smithsonian and connect to everything it does. Behind-the-scenes tours, events and engagement with experts and other James Smithson Society members are part of the experience. You can see and learn firsthand about progress to transform the National Museum of American History’s west wing, what researchers are uncovering around the globe and what the director of your favorite art museum is planning. 

Whether your passion lies with our nation’s achievements in space, portraiture of great Americans, sustaining our oceans or preserving the world’s endangered languages, membership is a way to deepen your connection.


James Smithson Society Benefits

James Smithson Society members make an annual gift of $2500 or more. These gifts provide vital funds, which support every museum, research center and program across the Smithsonian.

When you join the James Smithson Society, you make an important investment in the Smithsonian. In appreciation of your generous support, we invite you to enjoy members-only events around the country and in Washington, D.C., including the Annual Smithsonian Weekend, receptions in prominent Smithsonian venues, tours led by curators and scholars, the Secretary’s Keynote Address and a formal dinner with Smithsonian leadership.

If you are a deeply dedicated Smithsonian supporter and wish to experience an even closer relationship with this one-of-a-kind institution, please accept our cordial invitation to join the James Smithson Society today.

View James Smithson Society membership information and benefits
Find out about upcoming member events
Contact the Membership Department