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Proposal Process
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Smithsonian Affiliations creates long-term relationships with museums and other educational organizations in order to fulfill the Smithsonian's mission, "the increase and diffusion of knowledge," and to advance the Smithsonian's Strategic Plan. Smithsonian Affiliate organizations are key partners in exposing new constituencies to the Smithsonian's collections, educational programming, and research. Our work is guided by applicable laws, Institutional policies, codes and best practices of the museum field, and new initiatives established by the senior leadership of the Smithsonian.

The core policies and principles of the Smithsonian Affiliations program are as follows:

  1. The Smithsonian is the largest research and museum complex in the world; its name is trusted by the public as the reliable, authoritative, and objective source of scholarship and information. The Smithsonian's reputation for excellence, integrity, and professionalism must be primary when evaluating potential affiliations, managing the program, and managing particular Affiliate relationships. Affiliates must convey and represent the Smithsonian's reputation to their constituencies.
  2. Granting Affiliate status to an organization must advance the Smithsonian mission and strategic plan.
  3. Affiliates must be organized as either: non-profit organizations with 501(c)(3) designations and a current Form 990 on file with the IRS; or public institutions and agencies associated with state or local governments.
  4. The Smithsonian does not affiliate with religious organizations (as defined by the Internal Revenue Code) or organizations whose mission, primary activities or public programming are commercial, non-inclusive, partisan, intended to influence legislation and elections, promote positions inconsistent with the Smithsonian's mission, or might diminish the Smithsonian's reputation.
  5. The Smithsonian provides diverse audiences with access to its vast collections, research, public programs, and staff resources. Affiliates likewise must make their resources available to diverse audiences, and the Affiliate's location and activities must be appropriate for Smithsonian official participation under Smithsonian Directive 200 (Nondiscrimination in Events that Involve Smithsonian Officials, available upon request).
  6. Affiliates interested in obtaining loans from Smithsonian collections must demonstrate their ability to care for, protect, and exhibit collections in a manner consistent with the standards set by the American Alliance of Museums and the applicable Smithsonian lending unit.
  7. Affiliates are responsible for costs incurred in implementing projects. These may include conservation, insurance, packing and shipping, crate construction, copyright clearances, installation/de-installation, security, and travel.
  8. Affiliates borrowing through the Affiliations program will allow the Smithsonian to monitor the care of the borrowed objects during the loan period, inspect the affiliate's facilities and the borrowed objects on-site, and will agree to provide the Smithsonian with regular condition reports and access to its other records as necessary to monitor the condition of the borrowed objects. Smithsonian expenses related to these activities shall be borne by the Affiliate. The Smithsonian retains the authority to recall any or all of the objects during the loan period, but will make every effort to avoid such an occurrence.
  9. The Affiliate may use a special logo (Smithsonian Affiliate) and the tagline "in association with the Smithsonian Institution" to describe its participation in the Smithsonian Affiliations program. All Affiliate uses of the Smithsonian name, logo, tagline and the names of individual Smithsonian museums are subject to Smithsonian approval; Affiliates shall submit requests in writing, with appropriate designs and examples, and may not proceed to use in any manner without written approved from the Smithsonian.
  10. The Smithsonian name and logo may not be used by an Affiliate for fundraising purposes except for specific, mutually agreed collaboration activities, between the Affiliate and the Smithsonian, and only with the prior written approval from the appropriate Smithsonian office(s).
  11. Affiliates may not reproduce in any medium any object loaned to it from the Smithsonian collections without the express written permission from the Smithsonian. Any request to reproduce an object from the Smithsonian collections for purposes intended to generate revenue (e.g., postcards, posters, product adaptations) must be submitted in advance and will be the subject of a separate agreement between the Smithsonian and the Affiliate museum.
  12. The Smithsonian will not grant any type of exclusivity to any Affiliate, whether by geography, collection type, subject matter, or other parameter.
  13. Prospective Affiliates must submit a written proposal in accord with instructions posted on the Proposal Process page.
  14. Proposals will be reviewed by the Smithsonian on a case-by-case basis. The Smithsonian will consider the following when reviewing proposals to the program:
    1. Ways in which the proposed Affiliation may impact the Smithsonian's reputation for excellence, integrity, and professionalism, as determined by the Smithsonian.
    2. Whether the proposed Affiliation is likely to advance the Smithsonian mission and strategic plan, as determined by the Smithsonian.
    3. The availability of Smithsonian collections and programmatic resources in the area(s) of interest as cited in the application. Final agreement on programmatic resources or the loan of objects is at the discretion of each Smithsonian unit.
    4. The extent to which the organization demonstrates its ability to comply with the elements of this policy, as determined by the Smithsonian.
  15. All Affiliation agreements will be memorialized into written document(s), signed by both parties.
  16. Affiliates must pay an annual Affiliations fee, due upon signing and at successive anniversaries.
  17. The Affiliations agreement remains in effect so long as the Affiliate meets the requirements of this policy and as mutually agreed.

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