About Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian Institution has many hats, from the one worn by Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones movies, to the one worn by Abraham Lincoln the night he was assassinated. One of the world's leading cultural institutions, the Smithsonian houses some 155 million objects in 19 museums and galleries, most of which are on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Roughly 30 million people visit every year to view the Smithsonian's exhibits on art, music, TV and film, science, history, and other subjects. Admission to all but one of the Smithsonian's facilities is free; only the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York charges admission.


A board of regents that includes the vice president and the chief justice of the US, six members of Congress, and nine private citizens leads the institution. The Smithsonian's exhibits display items such as the Declaration of Independence, the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, and the Wright brothers' first airplane. Along with its museums and galleries, the Smithsonian also operates the National Zoo and nine research facilities and publishes magazines and books.

Among its museums are the African American Museum, Archives of American Art, Natural History Museum, and the Smithsonian Castle.

Geographic Reach

The Smithsonian Institution is located in Washington DC. The world's largest museum and research complex averages about 30 million visitors per year.

Financial Performance

With operating revenue in 2016 of $1.5 billion (up about 20% from the prior year), the Smithsonian receives nearly 55% of its funding from federal appropriations. Contributions and private grants account for nearly 20% and business activities brought in more than 10%. The Institution's net assets have grown steadily over the past five years, from $3 billion in 2012 to $3.8 billion in 2016.


Recent initiatives at the Institution include the grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in late 2016, as well as plans for a $900 million overhaul of the Air and Space Museum (scheduled to start in 2018) and a $2 billion upgrade and expansion of its South Mall Campus (scheduled to start in 2022).

The institution aims to expand the Smithsonian's global relevance in the 21st century. As part of this strategy, it released a strategic plan that focuses on four priorities, or "grand challenges" as they are called. They include unlocking the mysteries on the universe, understanding and sustaining a biodiverse planet, valuing world cultures, and understanding the American experience.

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Smithsonian Institution

1000 Jefferson Dr Sw
Washington, DC 20560-0009
Phone: 1 (202) 633-1000
Fax: 1 (202) 786-2515


  • Employer Type: Private Non Profit
  • CIO: Deron Burba
  • Chancellor, Board of Regents: John G. Roberts
  • Secretary: David J. Skorton
  • Employees: 6,100

Major Office Locations

  • Washington, DC