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Partners in Discovery Campaign

Red Wing Blackbird, Birds of the Chesapeake Bay, 1992, John W. TaylorEnhancing Collections

Many Smithsonian Libraries are interrelated in subject matter and, together, provide an exceptional foundation for investigations of all kinds. These collections house many distinctive and unusual items that are valued as much for their physical beauty and unusual character as for the information and knowledge they can provide. To enhance its collections for the benefit of current and future users, the Libraries seeks endowment and spendable gifts in three major subject areas: Science and Technology, Art and Design, and American History.

Science and Technology
Nearly half of the Smithsonian's libraries support active scientific research that includes study of the canopy in tropical rain forests, the evolution of a new species of hummingbird, methods of expanding panda populations in the wild, or solving the mystery of skeletons found in an unknown burial ground. From curators using early 20th century journals to trace descriptions of Triceratops fossils to zoo veterinarians studying ways to treat aging captive elephants, the Libraries' resources are integral to the care, preservation, and sharing of knowledge about the Smithsonian's vast natural history specimen - and living - collections.
The Naturalists's & Traveller's Companion, 1774, John Coakley LettsomOf equal importance are the collections that support research in the history of science and technology. The Smithsonian's collections of technological artifacts and the libraries that complement and enrich those collections provide a powerful resource for scholars. This unique combination of artifacts and library materials allows a high school student to trace the technological development and cultural impact of the locomotive and see examples of these engines through time. Or it gives Smithsonian curators the ability to interpret the development of computers beginning with the earliest Renaissance mathematical treatises.

Art and Design
Five libraries provide a global perspective on art and design, including American art and portraiture, European and American design and decoration, contemporary art, and African and Asian art and culture. These distinguished collections not only help explain the extraordinary works of art, sculpture and design in Smithsonian collections. They also serve as inspirational gold mines for decorators, theater set designers, jewelers, artists and craftsmen of all types, and as sources for exploring the cultural backgrounds of our enlarging diverse population.


American History
Smithsonian collections represent the aspirations, progress, and creativity of the American people. Nearly a third of the Smithsonian libraries support the Smithsonian' national museums in the subjects of American history, air and space, philately, and the history and culture of African and Asian/Pacific Island Americans, Latinos, and American Detail of Wa-Pel-La, Chief of the Musquakees, History of Indian tribes in North America, 1848-50, Thomas Loraine McKenneyIndians. What better place to explore what it means to be American than at the world's largest museum complex in the nation's capital? As the Smithsonian seeks to share its collections and programs in all 50 states, the Smithsonian Libraries must improve its foundation of study materials and find ways to share them more broadly.

Partners in discovery can help enhance these collections by

  • purchasing important research materials
  • supporting individual libraries or specific collections, such as those in natural history, the arts, world's fairs, or historical trade literature describing more than 30,000 companies
  • promoting access to the collections through publications, guides, Web site development, exhibitions, or other public programs
  • creating named curatorships
  • funding research fellowships

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