Smithsonian Privacy Statement for Philanthropic and Revenue Generating Activities

This Privacy Statement describes why and how the Smithsonian collects, stores, uses and shares personal data collected in connection with the Smithsonian Store and catalog, travel, publishing, or other commercial activities, as well as its fundraising activities. We collect such data in various ways, including data you provide to us, data we collect by automated means, and data we collect from other sources. 

Why We Ask You for Personal Information

If you contact the Smithsonian for information about products or services, or to make a donation or purchase, you may be asked to provide information about yourself. We use your information for many purposes including to help us personalize and continually improve your experience on our Websites and digital properties. Examples of providing us with data may include:

  • If you place an order with us for yourself or as a gift
  • If someone ordered a gift from Smithsonian for you
  • If you join one of our membership programs, and/or receive our magazine(s)
  • If you participate in a survey, study, contest, or sweepstakes, or share articles
  • If you register with us, sign up for an email newsletter, or request a catalog or brochure
  • If you participate in fundraising activities

Information Collected and Stored Automatically

The Smithsonian uses online analytics tools such as Google Analytics, WebTrends, etc., to collect and track information about your visit so that the Smithsonian can monitor usage and make improvements. These tools may store your IP address from which you access our Website. The Smithsonian also collects anonymous data elements in aggregate form, that cannot be tied to an individual:

  • The name of the domain from which you access the Internet (for example,, if you are connecting from a Google Online account)
  • The type of device, browser, and operating system used to access our Website
  • The date and time you access our site
  • The length of your visit
  • Demographic data
  • The location from which you access our site (approximate country, state, city and postal code based on Google Analytics data)
  • The pages, files, documents, and links that you visit and engage with
  • The domain of the website which referred you to this website (the last website you visited before visiting this one)

Additionally, to better understand our customers and supporters, we may ask that you share additional information about you or your experience (such as, your city or state, age); your participation would be voluntary and, unless specifically stated otherwise in the request, the information you provide will not be connected with your personally identifiable information. 

Social Media

When you access or interact with the Smithsonian through a social media service such as Facebook or Instagram, we may have visibility to your profile name and other information you have made public in connection with that particular social media service. The social media companies may collect and share anonymous aggregate metrics with us regarding use, such as the total number of clicks, shares, users’ demographics (e.g., age range, gender, location).  These social media companies are not operated by the Smithsonian; use of their services is governed by the privacy policies of the social media companies. 

How We Use and Disclose Personal Information

The Smithsonian may use and disclose information collected for various business and fundraising purposes, including:

  • To process, track, and manage products and/or services you request
  • To communicate with you about the content and/or services you may be interested in through content and advertisements on our Websites, mail, email, advertising networks, and social platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Google
  • To manage your account, deliver services you request, and to improve and enhance our services
  • To provide you with special offers, promotions and information from companies within our corporate family, and select third parties in accordance with applicable law;
  • To respond to your inquiries or comments
  • To contact you about changes to services
  • To allow social media sharing
  • To perform internal analysis in order to improve business practices
  • To protect the legal rights and obligations of the business and others
  • To help determine how parts of its websites are used in order to optimize site performance
  • To inform third parties about our users’ collective demographics or how they collectively use our Websites
  • To provide information about how many advertising impressions were delivered on a campaign

Please note that if you purchase a Smithsonian product or service, you may receive transactional communications.  If  you purchase from the Smithsonian Store, donate online, or purchase a membership, you may additionally receive emails about:

  • Smithsonian news and updates
  • New products
  • Special offers
  • Sales
  • Other promotions that may be of interest to you

The Smithsonian uses outside vendors to provide certain services, such as companies that process credit card transactions for the Smithsonian. These third-party vendors will have access to the information needed to perform their functions but may not use your information for any other purpose. Examples include:

  • E-mail acquisition and distribution
  • Order fulfillment and shipping
  • Ticket fulfillment
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Travel tourism
  • Printing
  • Data Storage and selection
  • Payment processing
  • Fraud prevention

The Smithsonian may collect personal data about you from unaffiliated sources with whom we contract, such as product and service providers and data aggregators, as well as from public sources or databases. We may obtain data such as your name, postal address, telephone number, demographic data (such as age, gender, income level, and purchasing profiles). We generally use such data to identify potential customers or subscribers, or to update personal data we already have about existing customers or subscribers (such as an address update), or to enhance our data models.

The Smithsonian may occasionally share, exchange, or rent information which may include your name, address, email address, demographic data (such as age, gender, income level, and purchasing profiles) and purchasing behavior with carefully selected third-party organizations including our outside vendors,  marketers of products and services potentially of interest to you, and cooperative database services in the publishing, catalog, and fund- raising industries.  We use cooperative databases primarily to identify potential subscribers and customers.

Please note that the Smithsonian also may provide your information to: (1) a Federal, State, or local law enforcement agency if the Smithsonian becomes aware of a violation or potential violation of law or regulation; (2) a court or party in a court or Federal administrative proceeding if the Smithsonian is a party or in order to comply with a subpoena; (3) the Department of Justice or in certain legal proceedings when the Smithsonian, an employee of the Smithsonian, or the United States is a party to litigation or has an interest in the litigation and the use of such records is deemed relevant and necessary to the litigation; (4) Smithsonian officials, including the Inspector General, as needed to perform official duties; (5) a Committee of Congress in response to a formal request; (6) protect the security or integrity of the Smithsonian Websites and services; and (7) any other person or entity as required by law.

Opt-Out and User Control

Customers may opt out of regular mailings and rental/exchange of files through contacting customer service for the relevant service.  For each Smithsonian service, customer service contact options may include phone, web, and email. Check the website of the relevant service for contact information. 

Customers can change their email communication preferences by using the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email or contacting customer service for the relevant service.

You may also access, update, review, correct, suppress, or remove any of the personal information you have given to us by emailing

Data Retention

We will retain your information for the period necessary to fulfill the purposes outlined in this Privacy Statement unless a longer retention period is required or allowed by law.

Remember that even after you cancel your account, or if you ask us to delete your personal information, copies of some information from your account may remain viewable in some circumstances where, for example, you have shared information with social media or other services. Because of the nature of caching technology, your account may not be instantly inaccessible to others. We may also retain backup information related to your account on our servers for some time after cancellation or your request for deletion, for fraud detection or to comply with applicable law or our internal security or recordkeeping policies. It may not always be possible to completely remove or delete all of your information due to technical constraints or, contractual, financial or legal requirements.


Review our Smithsonian Philanthropic and Revenue Generating Activities Cookie, Web Beacons, and Pixels Policy.

Children and Privacy

The Smithsonian’s Websites are intended to be accessible and enjoyed by general audiences. We do not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 13, without first providing the parent or legal guardian with notice and obtaining prior verifiable consent. If a visitor known to be a child sends an email to the Smithsonian, we will only use it to respond to the writer and not to create profiles or otherwise retain the information.  Where a Smithsonian Website is specifically directed toward children under the age of 13, the terms of the Smithsonian’s Kids Online Privacy (“SKOP”) Statement will apply and the Website will include a link to the SKOP.  If a parent or guardian believes their child’s personally identifiable information was inadvertently collected, please contact


The Smithsonian takes reasonable steps to design and manage our Websites’ technology to ensure that its information technology systems, applications, and information technology infrastructure are secure. When you use your credit card for any purchase or donation on a Smithsonian Website, that transaction is encrypted using “Transport Layer Security (TLS)” encryption to protect your credit card information when traveling over the Internet. Further, we require credit card processing be secured based on compliance with Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards.


Within the Smithsonian’s Websites are advertisements, widgets, and other content links to non-Smithsonian websites. These sites operate independently of the Smithsonian and have their own privacy policies. The Smithsonian is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of non-Smithsonian websites, and such link is not intended to be an endorsement of the non-Smithsonian website or its content. For your protection, you should review the privacy policy of the site you linked to from our Website.

Contact Us

Questions and comments about this Privacy Statement may be directed to us via mail at Smithsonian Privacy Office, 1000 Jefferson Drive, SW, Room 308, Washington, DC 20013 or email at The Smithsonian Institution is a large organization with many people sharing responsibility for the content of its Websites. Please help us respond to your comments and inquiries by sending them to the appropriate Smithsonian office. In order to help you contact the appropriate Smithsonian office, please consult our list of contacts at

Last revised: January 10, 2020