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Frequently Asked Questions

Click on any of the questions below to learn the answers to
frequently-asked questions about Smithsonian Affiliations:

 What is Smithsonian Affiliations?
 What makes Smithsonian Affiliations different from other loan programs?
 Who can affiliate with the Smithsonian?
 How do you apply for an affiliation?
 Where do I submit the proposal?
 How long does it take to become an affiliate?
 What happens if the proposal is accepted by the Smithsonian?
 What if the proposal is not accepted by the Smithsonian?
 What are the costs?

How can I get more information about Smithsonian Affiliations?

 What do I do if I am not interested in an affiliation but want to learn more about the Smithsonian's educational programs, and/or borrow objects from the Smithsonian on a short-term basis?
 
What is Smithsonian Affiliations?

Created by the Smithsonian Board of Regents in the fall of 1996, Smithsonian Affiliations is a unique strategic initiative that connects the Smithsonian's collections, programming, and research with museums, educational, and cultural organizations and their communities. Smithsonian Affiliations identifies potential collaborations for exhibition, educational or research programs and makes long-term loans available as appropriate, and subject to available funding and resources.

Smithsonian Affiliations helps member organizations identify appropriate resources within the Smithsonian to accompany exhibit loans: education and performing arts programs, expert speakers, teacher workshops, and technical assistance. These may also serve as standalone activities developed specifically for Affiliates.

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What makes Smithsonian Affiliations different from other loan programs?

In addition to borrowing objects from the Institution's collections, many affiliates are incorporating the outreach services the Smithsonian offers-for curriculum development in local schools, lectures, traveling exhibitions, workshops, study tours and similar programmatic activities. The Smithsonian also shares with affiliates staff expertise in areas of conservation, collections care and exhibition development. Smithsonian Affiliations also offers internships for Affiliate-based students and stipended professional development opportunities for Affiliate-based visiting professionals. Additionally, a Smithsonian Affiliate may use the tag line, "In Association with the Smithsonian Institution" and the approved Smithsonian Affiliations logo.

The goal of Smithsonian Affiliations is to establish meaningful relationships with communities by working with local museums and cultural institutions to maximize the cultural and educational benefits that both the Smithsonian and the affiliate can impart to the community.

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Who can affiliate with the Smithsonian?

Any 501(c)(3) nonprofit or publicly-operated entity can apply to become a Smithsonian Affiliate. The Smithsonian considers proposals from organizations whose missions and activities are appropriate for affiliation under its policies and will advance the Smithsonian mission and strategic plan.

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How do you apply for an affiliation?

Organizations interested in participating in the program need to apply following the steps set forth on the Application Process page. The proposal should include areas of interest for potential collaboration and documentation verifying the organization's nonprofit status, a mission statement, organization chart, collections management policy, annual reports, IRS Form 990s, and a facilities report that follows the American Alliance of Museums format. The applicant should also complete the Profile Summary Sheet.

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Where do I submit the proposal?

Three copies of the complete proposal should be submitted to the Smithsonian Affiliations for review and consideration.  The proposals should be sent to:

Smithsonian Affiliations
Smithsonian Institution
P.O. Box 37012, MRC 942
Washington, DC  20013-7012

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How long does it take to become an affiliate?

The proposal review process takes about four weeks, once Smithsonian Affiliations has received a complete proposal with all the pertinent documents.  The affiliation itself is meant to be a long-term, collections-based relationship between the affiliate and the Smithsonian.  Object loans are for defined time periods, not to exceed ten years; extensions to that time period may be made upon mutual agreement of all parties.

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What happens if the proposal is accepted by the Smithsonian?

If the proposal is approved, Smithsonian Affiliations drafts a Letter of Intent (LOI), which outlines the terms and conditions of the affiliation between the Smithsonian and the affiliate institution, along with details of the Memorandum of Understanding and implementation. The Smithsonian and the affiliating institution sign the LOI. Upon signing the LOI, the affiliate returns a copy of it along with a check for $3000. Subsequent payments of $3000 are due on the anniversary date of the signing of the LOI for as long as both parties agree to continue the relationship.

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What if the proposal is not accepted by the Smithsonian?

The Smithsonian will notify the applicant in writing if the proposal is not accepted and will explain the reasons why it was not accepted. 

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Are there costs associated with being an affiliate?

In addition to the annual fee, the affiliate institution reimburses the Smithsonian for costs incurred in developing the affiliate's projects. Costs vary depending on the scope of the artifact loan and programmatic requests submitted by the affiliate.  Expenses typically involve insurance, packing and shipping, appraisals, photography, conservation, copyright clearances, installation and de-installation of exhibitions, security, and travel.

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How can I get more information about Smithsonian Affiliations?

Most information about Smithsonian Affiliations is available through this web site, but organizations with specific questions or an interest in obtaining hard copies of materials should contact Alma Douglas at the Smithsonian Affiliations at 202.633.5300.

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What do I do if I am not interested in an affiliation but do want to a) learn more about some of the Smithsonian's educational programs, and/or b) borrow objects from the Smithsonian on a short-term basis?

A) This web site contains information from numerous Smithsonian educational and program offices. Should you happen to see an individual program of interest, you are encouraged to contact that office directly for further information.

B) Standard artifact loans may be initiated by writing to the appropriate museum. Your request should identify the specific artifact(s) you wish to borrow; the plans for their handling, care, and display; the length of your exhibition; and your intended audience. Curators, registrars, and loan coordinators will handle your request from there.

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