Your Gift Matters

Over 150 years ago, an English scientist named James Smithson left his fortune to America to found “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge” – and the Smithsonian was born. Today, we are the world’s largest museum and research complex: reaching, teaching, and inspiring millions every year thanks to people like you.

From saving species worldwide to innovating how we share our art collections, these are just small slivers of what is possible with your support.

Click the buttons above to uncover your interests by playing Your Smithsonian ID; learn how Giving Matters through stories of philanthropy; spark your imagination through the videos in Watch This!

Click to explore, or use the menu items above.

GUARDIAN, PIONEER, OR STEWARD?

You have been the guardians protecting our treasures, the stewards ensuring that the history and cultures of the world are shared, and the pioneers enabling innovation and discoveries.

Which one are you? Take this short quiz to determine “Your Smithsonian ID.”

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What means the most to you about the Smithsonian?

Click on your favorite from 5 sets of Smithsonian facts to see your Smithsonian Identity.

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The Smithsonian has the only U.S. museum dedicated to historic and contemporary design.

Get ready to play designer! The new Cooper Hewitt is all about interactivity and access, encouraging people to actively participate in their visit and experience design in a completely reimagined way – like this 3D printed bud vase. Your support is crucial to helping grow our museum's offerings, including exhibitions, education, and digital initiatives.

The Smithsonian started the nation's first collection of American Art and now has the largest and most inclusive collection in the world. 

Your support helps broaden the American Art Museum’s scholarship and increase access to its rich collection. For instance, every year the museum hosts residential fellows, all funded through generous donations from people like you.

The Smithsonian's albums and artists have won eight Grammy Awards.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is our nonprofit record label dedicated to cultural diversity, education and lively engagement with the world of sound. Support from people like you helps Folkways continue to produce important recordings and reach people everywhere with innovative educational programs centered around music.

In a global effort to save tigers, the Smithsonian has led SMART patrol technology training programs in Asia and is engaged in ongoing research to protect this critically endangered species and their remaining habitats.

Private philanthropy helps the Smithsonian's National Zoo complete its groundbreaking conservation work like their approach to saving wild tigers, which since 1972 has been based on the premise that partnerships are key to making conservation science and action effective. 

The Smithsonian is pioneering new collections to represent new artistic mediums – like video games and apps.

The American Art museum’s curators are building a substantial collection of video and media artworks. To stay ahead of this dynamic 21st century medium and to collect work from new artists, the museum needs the help of private support from people like you.

The Smithsonian discovered a new, low-cost, nonhazardous way to reduce the toxicity of mercury hotspots.

Cleaning up mercury pollution used to be expensive and destructive, but the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and colleagues found that using activated charcoal traps it in the soil. Support from people like you helps the Smithsonian to continue to make important discoveries like this one.

The Smithsonian has the only complete collection of Presidential portraits outside of the White House.

It was through the generosity of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation that one of the most iconic pieces in the President's Hall, the Lansdowne Portrait, was acquired. And it is through the generosity of the Bank of America, that it will now be conserved. Private philanthropy by foundations, companies, and individuals help grow and preserve our collections.

The Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation is the first ever accredited school of conservation.

It costs $13,646 - $23,435 to pay for a semester of undergraduate coursework at the Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation. Scholarships funded by people like you allow many students to attend the Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation, which gives students a unique opportunity to learn about theories in the classroom while they simultaneously apply those lessons in the field. 

The Smithsonian has produced the world’s most definitive research on spacesuits.

Spacesuits are surprisingly fragile; they are made for a short lifespan in the most extreme of conditions, and long-term survival is not part of their design process. It is through the support of people like you that our museums are able to conserve and, therefore, continue to study precious collections like this one.

The Smithsonian saves species like the giant pandas.

Your support help can ensure that giant pandas thrive, feed, frolic, and reproduce not only at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo but in the wider, wild world. Panda scientists and conservationists aim to increase the current population of pandas in zoos worldwide, to 500.

Your Smithsonian Identity

I am a Steward of History.

You love learning about the long and varied history of the United States, from Native Americans to recent immigrants. You like to hear how these Americans have shaped our country — and the world. Visiting the Smithsonian’s history and culture museums are at the top of your list when you come to D.C. You believe all Americans, no matter their roots, deserve to share their stories. By giving to the Smithsonian, you are a steward of history.

I am a Pioneer of Ideas.

You are inspired by the Smithsonian’s work at the frontline of new technologies, exploration and innovation. Whether scientists are searching for life in the far reaches of space or unlocking the code of life on Earth in our Global Genome Project, you want to be the first to know. You are an early adopter and can appreciate the beauty of digital code. The Smithsonian saves species and studies fragile coastal ecosystems, and you want to help. By giving to the Smithsonian, you are a pioneer of ideas.

I am a Guardian of Treasures.

You cherish the iconic Star Spangled Banner, the Hope Diamond, Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, and more. You grew up collecting treasures of your own and would love to study these ones all day long. And you truly appreciate the Smithsonian for every object in its unparalleled collection of art and artifacts. You believe in the Smithsonian’s goal to preserve the heritage of our nation and the world’s. By giving to the Smithsonian, you are a guardian of treasures. 

Your gift is critical to the Smithsonian’s success and excellence in the 21st century.  Whatever your passion may be, your gift is an opportunity to connect to the Smithsonian and bring collections to life and new scholarship and insight into the world. Make your gift today.

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Thomas Jefferson's Bible

Thomas Jefferson's Bible

The National Museum of American History takes care of the greatest single collection of American history — more than 3 million American treasures: everything from the original Star-Spangled Banner and Abraham Lincoln’s top hat to Dizzy Gillespie’s angled trumpet and Dorothy’s ruby slippers.

Private philanthropy helps the Smithsonian conserve the millions of artifacts, artworks, and specimens in our collections. For instance, funding from Peter and Rhondda Grant helped the National Museum of American History conserve Thomas Jefferson's Bible.

Tracking Elephants

Tracking Elephants

Smithsonian scientists are tracking elephants in the wild.

It costs $10,000 to put a satellite tracking device on an elephant in the wild, which helps scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute understand how, where and why elephants move. This information is vital to helping countries develop successful ways to reduce human-elephant conflict in places like Southeast Asia.

Transcription Center

Transcription Center

A tray of bumble bees from the National Museum of Natural History’s bee collection is being prepared for digitization. The museum is digitizing all 45,000 specimens in its collection and using virtual volunteers on its transcription site to help transcribe important data found on each specimen’s tag. This data will help scientists studying declining bee populations in North America.

The Smithsonian’s collection is so vast that transcribing its content using its own staff could take decades. By harnessing the power of online volunteers that goal can become a reality.

3D Digitization and Printing

3D Digitization and Printing

The Smithsonian’s 3D program has used the latest 3D technology to digitize one-of-a-kind objects, such as the 1903 Wright Flyer, President Lincoln’s Life masks and a prehistoric fossilized whale at a research site in Chile. Online visitors can now examine objects from every angle or 3D print them and hold them in their hands.

It costs $25,000 to bring large iconic Smithsonian objects online in 3D for use by anyone, anywhere and it is through the generosity of people like you that we can share our collections with the world in new and innovative ways.

Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Did you know the Smithsonian discovered the first planet circling a star other than our Sun? Scientists at the Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) now study thousands of alien worlds to tease out their secrets and look for signs of life.

SAO is often at the forefront of new discoveries about our universe, and once the Giant Magellan Telescope—the most powerful telescope in the world—is built with the help of private philanthropy, they will continue to be at the center of new findings.

Peter Buck Chair in Human Origins

Peter Buck Chair in Human Origins

The Smithsonian has stirred the hearts and sparked the imaginations of many of America’s greatest thinkers, entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Many of these remarkable people also have invested in the Smithsonian.

Dr. Peter Buck endowed the Peter Buck Chair in Human Origins at the National Museum of Natural History in 2007. As a result, Rick Potts, a paleoanthropologist who holds the chair, has been piecing together groundbreaking research about how human adaptation is tied to patterns of environmental instability. 

Archives of American Art

Archives of American Art

The Smithsonian has the world’s largest and most widely used research center on the history of the visual arts in America. Our vast holdings—more than 20 million archival resources—are available to the thousands of researchers in person and online.

People like you who donate to the Fund for the Archives provide operating support that enables them to create new exhibitions, publications, and programs while continuing to preserve and make available significant records and untold stories documenting the history of American art and visual culture.

Bittersweet Harvest

Bittersweet Harvest

In a South Texas border town, a Mexican American boy points to figures in a mural painted at the public swimming pool and says in wonderment, “Mom, they look like me.” Residents created the mural to compliment the Smithsonian traveling exhibition Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program 1942 – 1964, which documented an important Mexican guest worker program.

A grant from the MetLife Foundation allowed SITES to fund this public program, in addition to myriad educational workshops, cultural heritage days, and school visits to Smithsonian exhibits across the nation. It is private funding like MetLife Foundation’s donation that increases public access to Smithsonian resources far beyond the National Mall.

Libraries Digitization Program

Libraries Digitization Program

The Smithsonian’s 20 libraries, all open to the public, hold almost 2 million volumes, including a large collection of rare books. In an ongoing project to make our books accessible to people everywhere, the Smithsonian Libraries has digitized over 30,000 volumes from the collection.

It costs $250-$500 to digitize a rare book and it is the generosity of people like you that enables our Libraries to share their collections with the world.

Youth Access Endowment

Youth Access Endowment

In 2010, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation established a $30 million endowment to underwrite innovative, multi-disciplinary education projects. Already nationally recognized for the quality and impact of the thousands of resources, lesson plans and the training we provide educators, the endowment—which has grown to more than $35 million—has allowed the Smithsonian to reshape how we approach education.

Visionary individuals like the Gates have paired their passions with specific endowments tailored to their interests, ensuring that the Smithsonian reaches its aspirations.

American Art Fellowships

American Art Fellowships

The Smithsonian started the nation's first collection of American Art and now has the largest and most inclusive collection in the world – an important resource for scholars completing independent and dissertation research.

Every year, the museum hosts residential fellows, all funded through generous donations from people like you. The stipend for a one-year fellowship is $32,500 - $47,500, plus research and travel allowances. Since the beginning of the program, the American Art Museum has hosted over 200 fellows. 

National Air and Space Museum

National Air and Space Museum

The National Air and Space Museum collection is the most comprehensive in the world. One-third is one-of-a-kind or associated with a major milestone. The Museum protects and shares this collection with the world.

Approximately 50 percent of the Museum's funding comes from federal appropriations. The remainder is primarily provided through private and corporate donations from people like you. It is through donations from the public that the Museum is able to create exhibitions, hold programming, and host school groups.

Discover more about our museums, centers and programs in our video library.

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FOLKLIFE FESTIVAL: ONE VILLAGE

STRI: PANAMA

SMITHSONIAN LIBRARIES

AAA: WHERE ART COMES ALIVE

THE SMITHSONIAN IS...

NATIONAL ZOO: WE SAVE SPECIES

GET INVOLVED WITH NMAAHC

SMITHSONIAN AMERICAN ART MUSEUM

OUT OF MANY, ONE

NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM TROPHY AWARDS

3D SCANNING AT THE SMITHSONIAN

NATIONAL DESIGN AWARDS 2014

FOLKLIFE FESTIVAL: ONE VILLAGE
STRI: PANAMA
SMITHSONIAN LIBRARIES
AAA: WHERE ART COMES ALIVE
THE SMITHSONIAN IS...
NATIONAL ZOO: WE SAVE SPECIES
GET INVOLVED WITH NMAAHC
SMITHSONIAN AMERICAN ART MUSEUM
OUT OF MANY, ONE
NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM TROPHY AWARDS
3D SCANNING AT THE SMITHSONIAN
NATIONAL DESIGN AWARDS 2014
MITSITAM CAFE TASTING
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