Smithsonian Campaign Makes History

October 24, 2016
John McCarter and Barbara Barrett

John McCarter, Jr., Chair of the Board of Regents, and Barbara Barrett, a Regent and Co-Chair of the Smithsonian Campaign, at the Board of Regents public forum

The Smithsonian has surpassed its goal of raising $1.5 billion in the largest fundraising campaign ever set by an American cultural institution. At the Board of Regents public forum today, Regent Barbara Barrett announced that the Smithsonian Campaign has raised $1.56 billion fourteen months ahead of schedule. The campaign ends in December 2017. 

“This has been, and continues to be, an ambitious campaign – one befitting America’s national museums, beloved by the nation,” Barrett said. “More than 430,000 people across the nation have given gifts ranging from less than one hundred dollars, to tens of millions of dollars.”

In addition, more than 40 percent of the campaign’s donors are new to the Smithsonian, including the 25 percent of the 300 donors giving gifts of $1 million or more.

The campaign was launched in 2011 to accomplish four goals: spark discovery, tell America’s story, inspire lifelong learning and reach people everywhere.

Toward those ends, Smithsonian scientists have uncovered new dinosaur species and identified planets beyond our solar system. America’s rich narrative is exemplified in the  greatest milestone of the campaign – the opening of the Smithsonian’s 19th museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, on September 24.

The American people, through Congress, provided $250 million toward the creation of this museum, and the campaign, through more than 135,000 donors, has raised an additional $320 million for it – and counting.

To strengthen learning, the campaign has opened six education centers. And, the Smithsonian continues to rapidly increase access to its collection for people around the globe by digitizing two million artifacts and objects.

Other campaign milestones include: the addition of more than $366 million to the Smithsonian’s endowment; 52 new endowed positions; establishing the Tennenbaum Marine Observatories Network; reopening a renewed Renwick Gallery; and opening the National Air and Space’s Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall, the National Museum of American History’s Innovation Wing, the Amphibian Rescue Lab in Panama and the Postal Museum’s William H. Gross Stamp Gallery.

“We are by no means finished,” Barrett said. “We still have much left to achieve in the next year.”

Those achievements are renovating the National Museum of Natural History’s Fossil Hall; reopening the National Museum of American History’s second and third floors on Democracy and Culture; and helping build the Giant Magellan Telescope in Chile by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, as a member of an international consortium.

“I offer my extreme gratitude to the many people who have helped us achieve our current success,” Barrett said. “I welcome and thank all who will continue to support our future success.”

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