For efficient service, please read through the following list and contact the appropriate office directly.
I would like to donate an object to the Smithsonian Institution. What should I do?
The Smithsonian acquires thousands of objects and specimens each year for its collection holdings through donation, bequest, purchase, exchange, and field collecting. Each museum and curatorial department decides on a case-by-case basis which objects to add to its collections. Donations are accepted only when the item truly complements the collection. We also consider whether we can properly care for an intended donation, as our collections are held in trust for the American people.
If you are interested in donating objects to one of the following Smithsonian museums, please visit the appropriate webpage:
- Anacostia Community Museum: anacostia.si.edu/collection/donate-our-collection
- National Museum of African American History and Culture: nmaahc.si.edu/donate-item
- National Museum of African Art: africa.si.edu/collection/guidelines-for-artwork-donations/
- National Air and Space Museum and its Udvar Hazy Center: airandspace.si.edu/support/ways-give/donate-personal-item-0
- Smithsonian American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery: americanart.si.edu/about/contact/donating-artworks
- National Museum of American History: americanhistory.si.edu/giving/object-donations
- National Museum of the American Indian: www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1581450/NMAI-Submit-a-Proposal-for-Acquisition
- Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden: hirshhorn.si.edu/explore/gifts-of-art/
- National Portrait Gallery: npg.si.edu/support/gifts-art
- National Postal Museum: postalmuseum.si.edu/donating-objects
- Smithsonian Institution Libraries: library.si.edu/donate/gifts-in-kind
- Archives of American Art: www.aaa.si.edu/services/donating-papers
- a description of your object or an inventory of your collection,
- a few images of the objects you wish to donate included as attachments (our mail-processing program strips out embedded email images),
- as much provenance information as you have (how long you’ve owned the object; when, where, and how you received it; its origins; etc.),
- a brief explanation of why you think your object belongs in the Smithsonian (its historical, cultural, artistic, or scientific significance), and
- an indication of which Smithsonian museum or office you think should receive it.
The Office of Visitor Services will forward your complete donation offer in a single email to the appropriate curatorial staff, who will contact you only if they are interested in pursuing your offer. The Office of Visitor Services is not informed of such decisions.
Under no circumstances should you send us your object without prior written curatorial approval.
How can I find out if the Smithsonian holds a particular object in its collections and where it might be?
The Smithsonian holds nearly 154 million objects in its collections, distributed among its 19 museums, the National Zoo, libraries, research centers, and storage facilities. Many artifacts are donated to the Smithsonian by individuals, private collectors, and federal agencies; others come to the collections through field expeditions, bequests, exchanges with other museums and organizations, and purchases.
Only a small percentage of the Smithsonian’s vast holdings are on view. Many artifacts not on display are stored in collection study areas in the museums and are available to researchers by appointment. Air- and spacecraft are conserved and stored at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, part of the National Air and Space Museum, in Chantilly, Virginia. Other research collections are housed in Landover and Suitland, Maryland, facilities.
Most of our collections have been cataloged in our Collections database. If you don’t find the object you are interested in listed there, please send as much information about the object as you have to email@example.com; such information as a complete description of the item, its history, how and when it came to the Smithsonian, who donated it, and the museum or facility to which it was donated can help us refer your inquiry to the appropriate collections staff.
Some museums and units may be contacted directly. To either conduct research or inquire about a collection, either send a detailed email or follow instructions at any of the following:
The Smithsonian does not maintain a centralized mailing list; each membership program maintains its own membership database. For specific inquiries, including a change of address, or to stop receiving mail, please contact the appropriate membership program:
- National Associates
- Smithsonian Associates
- Friends of the Smithsonian
- African American History and Culture
Phone: 800.209.9178 or 202.633.2766
- African Art Museum
- National Air & Space Museum (DC and VA)
- Smithsonian American Art Museum
- National Museum of American History
- National Museum of American Indian
Phone: 800.242.6624 or 202.633.6984
- Cooper Hewitt National Museum of Design
- Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
- National Zoo
- National Museum of Natural History
- National Postal Museum
- Renwick Gallery
African American History and Culture https://nmaahc.si.edu/connect/contact
African Art https://africa.si.edu/about/contact-us/
Air and Space (DC and VA) https://airandspace.si.edu/contact
American Art https://americanart.si.edu/about/contact
American History https://americanhistory.si.edu/about/contact
American Indian (DC and NY) https://americanindian.si.edu/about/contact
Arts and Industries https://aib.si.edu/contact-us/
Castle Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cooper Hewitt https://www.cooperhewitt.org/contact/
Gardens Email: email@example.com
Natural History https://naturalhistory.si.edu/contact-us
Portrait Gallery https://npg.si.edu/about-us/contact-us
- Each museum and office grants rights to reproduce objects and images in its collections.
- To determine which museum holds the object or image you are interested in, search our Collections database.
- For information on how to contact the appropriate office to request rights, please see our Rights, Restrictions, and Security Contacts webpage.
- To explore and access Smithsonian content that you may download and use without permission visit Smithsonian Open Access.
For information on visit-planning, including timed entry passes, please visit:
- Webpage: www.si.edu/visit
For visit-planning and Smithsonian-related inquiries not addressed above:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 202.633.1000 (recorded information/live voice)
PO Box 37012
SI Building, Room 153, MRC 010
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
- Staff Mail:
Building name, room number (if known)
PO Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012