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 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 found the first distant, alien planet.

More than 20 years ago, the scientists of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory found the first planet orbiting a distant, Sun-like star. Now, thousands of such worlds are known and our scientists are tackling the next big mystery: Do any of them host life like Earth? Private philanthropy from people like you helps the Smithsonian to answer these profound questions.

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 has one of the largest entomology collections in the world with over 35 million specimens.

Our entomology collection contains one of the world’s largest bumble bee collections. Dedicated e-volunteers are helping digitize and transcribe the collection, so scientists anywhere in the world can understand more about bumble bees and the effects that the recent population declines of this crucial pollinator has on ecosystems and agriculture.

The Smithsonian protects and conserves many of America's greatest treasures, including Thomas Jefferson's bible.

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.

One-third of the Smithsonian’s aircraft and spacecraft collection are one-of-a-kind or associated with a major milestone.

Approximately 50 percent of the National Air and Space 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 expand their collections.

In a changing world, the Smithsonian has created a global network of ecological observatories to provide a greater understanding of marine biodiversity and our coastal oceans.

The Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network will draw on the Smithsonian’s unique convening power and marine assets to establish strategic partnerships with research and academic organizations around the world. Private support helps fuel and build the network by funding its leadership, innovative research, scientists and fellows, its partnerships and global reach.

The Smithsonian is nationally recognized for the quality and impact of the thousands of resources and the training we provide educators around the country.

The Smithsonian was founded on the principle that education empowers a nation and today we are employing new digital channels to convey information to the broadest possible audience. The support of people like you help us reach teachers and students everywhere.

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.

The Smithsonian is a leader in 3D digitization – we even digitized a whale skeleton in Chile for future scientific research.

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.

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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