Star Spangled Banner exhibit, National Museum of American History


What is the James Smithson Society?

The James Smithson Society is a distinguished and dedicated group of individuals who sustain the Smithsonian through their annual giving. It is named in honor of the Institution’s founder. Smithson Society members from around the country participate in an important personal partnership. They support the Smithsonian’s work as keeper of our national heritage, its extensive educational and outreach programs, and its vital and innovative scientific research.

How will my contribution as a Smithson Society member make a difference?

Your contribution will play an important role toward advancing the Institution’s endeavors as the world’s foremost museum and research complex. Your generosity helps the Smithsonian to provide unique educational experiences for over 24.2 million visitors at the Institution’s 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoo, and eight research centers around the world.

Is the James Smithson Society different from Friends of the Smithsonian?

The James Smithson Society is the highest level of Friends of the Smithsonian. In addition to the exclusive Smithson Society benefits, members receive all Friends of the Smithsonian benefits.

What special opportunities are available to me as a James Smithson Society member?

By joining as a member of the Smithson Society, you will enjoy significant access to exhibitions, information, and events at the Smithsonian, our nationwide affiliates, and special tour opportunities with other members at Smithsonian venues and other cultural organizations throughout the nation. Foremost among these special personal interactions is the Smithson Society Annual Members’ Weekend.

What is the Smithson Society Annual Members’ Weekend?

The Smithson Society Annual Members’ Weekend honors Smithson Society members from across the country who make a profound difference to the Institution.

This eventful weekend is filled with:

  • Private, behind-the-scenes tours
  • Presentations from the Institution’s museum directors, curators and scientists
  • Highlights of the Smithsonian’s leading new initiatives and ground-breaking exhibitions
  • An elegant black-tie celebration dinner hosted by Smithsonian leaders

Why should I become a James Smithson Society member?

Your support as a James Smithson Society member will have a significant impact on the pursuits of the Smithsonian in the areas of art conservation and scholarship, scientific discovery, and historical preservation. Along with the rewards of such visionary philanthropy, you will enjoy opportunities to discover the Smithsonian from a close perspective to gain a more complete understanding of the Institution’s work.

Why did Contributing Membership change its name to Friends of the Smithsonian?

In 2009, we surveyed our members about what it is they hope for in their involvement with the Smithsonian. We assessed how we can be the most responsible stewards of our members’ generosity in shaping the Smithsonian’s future, and to that end, in October 2009, the benefits and giving levels of membership were revised and streamlined under the new name, Friends of the Smithsonian. While the James Smithson Society retained its name, it now consists of four giving circles ranging from $2,500-$20,000, each named in honor of exemplary leaders in the Smithsonian’s history.

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