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Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, Inclusion (DEAI)

How do we commit to DEAI in collaboration with our communities and within our organizations?  

Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, Inclusion (DEAI)

How do we commit to DEAI in collaboration with our communities and within our organizations?  

A young person gazes upwards.

At Smithsonian Affiliations, we believe that embracing DEAI can expand the narratives an organization shares, elevating and celebrating diverse experiences, voices, and perspectives across its work and as part of its organizational story.


We recognize that there are significant differences in perspectives across communities and therefore support organizations in bridging these divisions and promoting dialogue among diverse audiences. We think about audiences as individuals—rather than the “general public” —and consider community in a variety of ways: 

  • Geography: those who live, work or play in a specific location
  • Identity: those who share a common gender, sexual orientation, racial or other identity
  • Affinity: those who share a common interest

Which community (or communities) do you currently serve and which do you hope to serve in the future? How might your relationship with the Smithsonian help you reach these audiences in new or innovative ways? 

Content and Programming

As part of DEAI work, we think about how content and programming can be accessible, relatable, and actionable for audiences. How can we work with Affiliates to deepen and expand our collective impact? How can we create or adapt content and services—in-person and online—to respond to the needs and priorities of Affiliate communities? 

We work with Affiliates to meet their learners where they are and help to provide different modes of engagement to meet the diverse needs of their communities. We seek to understand the diversity and unique make-up of the communities and stakeholders our Affiliates serve and work with them to develop offerings that meet their specific needs and interests. How might you work with the Smithsonian to develop more inclusive content and programming? 

Staff and Leadership

To maximize the relationship with the Smithsonian, we encourage engagement at all levels of an Affiliate organization. Managing and stewarding the Affiliate relationship is stronger and more rewarding when more than one staff member understands the benefits of the association. Rather, there are opportunities for staff at all levels of an Affiliate to understand and be engaged in the collaboration with the Smithsonian.

Just as we seek to serve diverse audiences through our public-facing work, we also strive to serve diverse staff through the Affiliate relationship. How might different people or departments within your organization engage with Affiliations.

You may also consider how you can use your internal HR practices to be more inclusive and representative of your community and your institutional values. You may want to ask yourself: How is your staff diverse? Culturally, but also in terms of the skills and experiences they bring to the table to complement each other to create a thriving organization? Where are the gaps and how might you look to fill them?

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 Initiative
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AFFILIATE Initiative
A group of senior citizens participate in a workshop at the National Portrait Gallery.

See Me at the Smithsonian

See Me at the Smithsonian is an interactive program for adults with dementia and their care partners, presented by Access Smithsonian. Participants explore some of the Smithsonian’s most beloved objects in small group discussions and multi-sensory activities. See Me provides intellectual engagement, opportunities for socialization, and the ability for loved ones to spend time together in a relaxed setting. Since May 2020, the Smithsonian has fully transitioned to delivering virtual See Me programs and has provided professional development for interested Affiliates to help them develop similar programs.
Three people crouch down to work on a sidewalk chalk drawing depicting a deer, a bear, a wolf, and a rabbit.
Springfield museum of art (Springfield, Oh)

Working with local educators and students

The Springfield Museum of Art leveraged its relationship with the Smithsonian and community partners to bring a series of professional development workshops to its community. Aimed at teachers who work with students with multiple disabilities, the workshops offered strategies for using art in the classroom. The museum has also collaborated with the Smithsonian to distribute Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Toolkits from the Smithsonian American Art Museum to rural Ohio students. The toolkits help young people process emotions and find hope through art in the pandemic era.
Smithsonian Initiative
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AFFILIATE Initiative
A black and white photograph of a group of seated women.

Because of Her Story

To create a more equitable America, the Smithsonian is researching, disseminating, and amplifying the histories of American women through its American Women’s History Initiative, Because of Her Story, in preparation for the future Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum. The Smithsonian wants the role of women in American history to be well-known, accurate, acknowledged, and empowering. With a digital-first mission and focus, the Smithsonian amplifies a diversity of women’s voices in a new museum and throughout the Smithsonian’s museums, research centers, cultural heritage Affiliates, and anywhere people are online. Through these efforts we reach millions of people in Washington, D.C., across the nation, and around the world.

In March 2021, Affiliations offered a series of virtual programs in recognition of Women’s History Month. More than 20 Affiliates—including the Irving Archives & Museum—participated in the series. Affiliates connected the programs to their collections and communities.

“We tied the program series to a Storymap series, called Her Story: Notable Irving Women, as a way to bridge stories of local women with the more national stories that the Smithsonian program offered. These Storymaps were part of a larger citywide Diversity and Inclusion initiative and were shared externally on social media as well as through the city’s internal communications. [The series] featured five influential women who were significant in shaping Irving’s past and future.” 

Clare Hulfish thumbnail size portrait Clare Hulfish
Education and Programs Manager, Irving Archives and Museum (Irving, TX)

Diversity, Equity, Accessiblity, Inclusion


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.

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