At Smithsonian Affiliations, we encourage Affiliates to engage intentionally and proactively with other Affiliates, the Affiliations staff, and other Smithsonian colleagues around common areas of interest, collective expertise, community connections, collections, and other resources. This engagement helps us all to build a trusted and growing Community of Practice.
We seek engaged collaborators who make an intentional effort to build relationships with the Smithsonian and other Affiliates to foster mutual learning and collaboration. Through shared discourse, Affiliates have the opportunity to explore best practices, share ideas, and problem solve with others in the Affiliate network.
Recent examples include:
- Community Dialogue Resources that illustrate how Affiliates have facilitated difficult but essential dialogue with their communities.
- Annual Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference that offers networking and access to Smithsonian and Affiliate colleagues.
- Smithsonian Affiliate Voices that provides the Affiliate network with an international platform to share their stories.
We facilitate and support opportunities for Affiliates to work collaboratively with one another.
This may include:
- Highlighting innovative ways to fund projects by encouraging collaboration between Affiliate organizations
- Offering shared benefits among participating Affiliate members through the Smithsonian Affiliate Reciprocal Membership Program
- Connecting Affiliates to facilitate the sharing of Affiliate objects or exhibitions with one another
We support Affiliates with capacity-building and professional development resources as part of the Affiliations’ dedication to supporting collaborating museums and educational and cultural organizations in their ongoing growth.
Working directly with Affiliates, our National Outreach Managers identify unique and relevant opportunities in addition to exploring and supporting new opportunities to enable growth, including:
- Periodic funding opportunities to work with the Smithsonian on specific education programs, typically connected to pan-Institutional priorities.
- Professional development opportunities, such as the immersive, cohort-based Smithsonian Affiliations Visiting Professionals Program.
- Co-creating new events, programming, or resources with Affiliates.
National to Local Stories
Smithsonian Affiliations collaborates with museums and educational and cultural organizations to bring the Smithsonian to your neighborhood. We support you in articulating your story within and alongside the larger narratives told by the Smithsonian.
Here are some examples of how we have worked with Affiliates to support their work. How does this inspire you? We encourage you to include your ideas in the Statement of Purpose included in your Affiliate application.
Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference
“When we first explored becoming an Affiliate, people asked, ‘what are we going to get out of [being an Affiliate]?’ Well, I don’t know…but there’s all these cool people! It’s like, what am I going to get out of a party? I’m still going to go to the party and see who we meet….Sometimes you really don’t know what the possibilities are until you get into the mix.”
President & CEO, Michigan Science Center
Affiliate Office Hours
Director, International Museum of Art & Science (McAllen, TX)
Smithsonian Affiliations Visiting Professionals Program
Affiliates enjoy robust professional development opportunities, including the Visiting Professionals Program. The program is offered periodically and offers selected candidates a stipend to develop their professional skills during an immersive, cohort-based experience that helps participants develop leadership and technical skills to support their work at their Affiliate, as well as their career growth.
In 2018 and 2019, Affiliations brought together a group of mid-career Affiliate staff to focus on how they could use digital tools and technologies to broaden access to their art collections. Participants each brought a challenge or project to the two-week Visiting Professionals Program and—with support, insight, and guidance from Smithsonian leadership and other staff—refined the project and developed a strategy to implement a solution.
“I am full of gratitude for the opportunity to participate in VPP [Visiting Professionals Program]. I continue to lean on what I experienced through the program. It has been so helpful as we work to navigate connecting with our community.”
Director of Education, Northwest Museum of Art & Culture (Spokane, WA)
Collaborative Funding via Smithsonian
“Part of [our] mission is to include and make accessible voices from historically marginalized people, including members of the immigrant and refugee communities….Through the work of the interns, we were able to add three oral histories from members of this community to our collection. The internship served as a springboard for the larger project; through it we were able to gauge community interest, establish timelines, more accurately project costs, etc.”
Senior Collections Manager, Anchorage Museum (Anchorage, AK)
Collaboration and Relationship Building
This is a tool to reflect on your own organization’s work as you consider whether affiliating with the Smithsonian is right for your organization.
Ready to keep learning? Keep exploring!
Get in touch with one of our National Outreach Managers now…