For efficient service, please read through the following list and contact the appropriate office directly, or review the frequently asked questions at the bottom of the page.
- 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 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
For visit-planning and Smithsonian-related inquiries not addressed above:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Inquiries about topics listed above sent to email@example.com will be referred to contacts listed above for review and response.
- 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
Frequently Asked Questions
The Smithsonian does not maintain a centralized mailing list; each membership program maintains its own membership database. Please contact the appropriate membership program:
- National Associates: firstname.lastname@example.org or 800.766.2149
- Resident Associates: CustomerService@SmithsonianAssociates.org or 202.633.3030
- Friends of the Smithsonian: Membership@si.edu or 800.931.3226
- If you are a member of a different (e.g., museum-specific) membership program, please visit the Smithsonian Giving website for contact information.
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.
In order to make such decisions, our curators will need a few images of the objects you wish to donate, along with as much background information as you have. Please submit your donation request with the images included as attachments in one single e-mail to email@example.com. If you wish to sell your item to the Smithsonian, you must also include your asking price. Once you provide the images and information in a single e-mail, we will forward your offer to the appropriate staff for consideration. Museum staff will contact you directly if they are interested in your offer.
Under no circumstances should you send us your object without prior written curatorial approval.
Smithsonian staff is unable to comment on (e.g., speculate on value, intended use, authenticity, age, or materials) or to do research on items outside our own collections. Smithsonian policy prevents us from recommending a specific appraiser or dealer. You can ascertain the current range of prices for items exchanged at sales and auctions by consulting the price guides available in bookstores, public libraries, or online. Also, dealers actively engaged in buying and selling antiques, professional appraisers attached to sales galleries, and official appraisers for local probate courts usually can give prevailing values. Information on providers of these services can be found in collectors' magazines, in the yellow pages of telephone directories, or in other sources available from the reference librarian in your area library. Also see general information on object appraisals.
Staff specialists at the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute (MCI; previously Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education) are asked questions on a wide variety of subjects relative to caring for and preserving artifacts and heirlooms. Broad guidelines and strategies for artifact and collections care may be found on the MCI website below.
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 catalogued 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 firstname.lastname@example.org; 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:
Anacostia Community Museum- ACMarchives@si.edu
Archives of American Art- https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/visit-research-center#washington-dc
Smithsonian Gardens- http://gardens.si.edu/collections-research
National Postal Museum- NPMobjectresearch@si.edu or;
Many of the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are available as unique settings for special events. Organizations and individuals can rent Smithsonian spaces for their private event. To learn more about events at the different museums, spaces that are available for rent, capacities of spaces and contact information, please visit see Host an Event at the Smithsonian for information.