People & Operations

Established in 1846, the Smithsonian is a trust instrumentality of the United States. Just under two-thirds of the Smithsonian's annual budget, supporting day-to-day operations and physical infrastructure, is funded through federal government appropriations and the balance is from private funds. All Smithsonian operations rely on two world-class pillars: our talented workforce of diverse employees, volunteers, interns, and fellows who carry out the Institution's vital mission and our extraordinary portfolio of landmark facilitieshistoric and modern architectural gems on the National Mall and beyond.


6,765 Total Employees as of September 2017
81% Favorable Employee Satisfaction Score Calendar Year 2017
Smithsonian employees, historic

Slightly less than two-thirds of Smithsonian employees are federal; the rest are non-federal trust employees and  Panamanian employees working under local labor laws. The range of job types is immense—from scientific research to exhibition design to museum operations to security. The Smithsonian seeks to attract and maintain a creative workforce that is representative of America's diversity, including expanding employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Employees consistently rank the Smithsonian as one of the "Best Places to Work” among midsize federal agencies. For information about careers at the Smithsonian, visit


6,905 On-Site Volunteers Fiscal Year 2017
9,365 Digital Volunteers Cumulative Total 2013 thru Fiscal Year 2017
551,492 On-Site Volunteer Hours Fiscal Year 2017
118,741 Pages Transcribed Fiscal Year 2017
Volunteer at Air and Space Museum

Thousands of volunteers contribute invaluable time and talent to the life of the Smithsonian. On-site volunteers provide information to museum visitors, lead exhibition tours, assist in the care of collections, and contribute to research. Visit Digital volunteers work remotely to support curators and collections managers via the Smithsonian Transcription Center. They unlock the precious content inside digitized images of historic documents and records for important natural history specimens. View some fascinating projects and become a digital volunteer at


562 Facilities Owned Calendar Year 2016
26 Facilities Leased Calendar Year 2016
11,657,196 Square Feet Owned Calendar Year 2016
1,640,363 Square Feet Leased Calendar Year 2016
National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Smithsonian has facilities throughout the United States and Central America, ranging from the newest museum on the National Mall, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, to the century-old Carnegie Mansion in New York that houses the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, to tropical research stations in Panama, and telescope arrays in Arizona and Hawaii. Our expert facilities staff manage the Institution’s complex requirements, including care of fragile collections, support for critical scientific research, hosting millions of visitors, and maintaining our historic and diverse infrastructure. Learn more about our capital projects.


$1.51B Operating Budget * Fiscal Year 2016
$863M Federal Appropriations Fiscal Year 2017
$670M Private Sources * Fiscal Year 2016
$100,000 bill

Congress appropriates Federal funds for the Smithsonian in two main categories: Operations and Building Renovation and Construction. Operations supports Federal staff salaries, rent and utilities, facilities maintenance, collections care, and central administrative services. Building Renovation and Construction supports planning and design, revitalization, and construction of the Institution's physical infrastructure. Private funds combine with Federal appropriations to support Smithsonian operating and building expenses. They include restricted and unrestricted private gifts, payouts from the endowment, revenue from grants and contracts, Smithsonian Enterprises business revenues, and memberships.