Behind-the-scenes tours of the Smithsonian collections are always a highlight for conference participants. Previous tours have included an in-depth look at exhibition fabrication and design at Smithsonian Exhibits, an inside-look at conservation methods at the Museum Conservation Institute, the storage collections of the National Museum of the American Indian, and the Garber Restoration Facility of the National Air and Space Museum.
Extended workshops focusing on new programs or new ways to engage with museum audiences are typically offered. Attendees have learned about early education with the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, curating educational collections for school curriculum with the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, and editing Wikipedia articles with the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
Smithsonian Affiliations is one of the only offices at the Institution which organizes a networking opportunity on Capitol Hill. Each year, a location either on Capitol Hill or in close proximity to the Capitol is selected for a reception in honor of Affiliates and their congressional representatives. All members of Congress representing Affiliate states and districts are extended an invitation from the Secretary of the Smithsonian to come and meet their Affiliate constituents.
Conference week at the Smithsonian offers Affiliates the opportunity to schedule one-on-one meetings with Smithsonian experts to discuss artifact and object loans, programming opportunities and educational workshops. It is also a chance to meet Smithsonian staff and forge new relationships. Affiliates are encouraged to send a representative or representatives to the annual meeting each year.