Who foots the bill?

Everyone who visits the Smithsonian Institution appreciates the fact that there is no charge for admission to any of our fantastic museums here in Washington. This sets the Smithsonian apart from other world-class cultural institutions, and allows millions of visitors from all walks of life to experience and learn about science, art, and history.

So, how can the world’s largest museum complex and research institution afford to let everybody in for free? How do we pay for all of those new exhibitions and programs as well as conduct important research and complete much-needed building renovations (like those at the American History museum)? I thought you’d never ask!

$100000 bill$100,000 note from the museum's numismatic collection - the highest denomination ever issued in the U.S.

You might know that your federal tax dollars help pay for the Smithsonian’s budget. But many people do not know that the Smithsonian is only partially funded by the federal government. The Smithsonian, including our own museum, relies on financial support from private individuals, corporations, and foundations in order to accomplish its mission to “increase and diffuse knowledge” and to preserve America’s cultural heritage for future generations.

In addition to your tax dollars, our museum’s renovation was made possible by individuals and organizations whose generosity demonstrates a love for their country’s history and an appreciation of the museum’s role in preserving and sharing that history with all who visit our building and our Web sites. People make gifts ranging from $1 all the way to $1 million and beyond― and every gift is critical to our work. Neither the Smithsonian nor our museum would exist—let alone be free to enter—without the support of people like you.

Now, show me the money!  (Just kidding.)  If you do want to make a donation, though, you can make it online here.

Mike Johnson is a Development Associate in the Office of External Affairs. He loves his job because he is constantly witness to the passion and generosity of people who love American history as much as he does.