Statement on Merchandise in Smithsonian Stores

January 18, 2011
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History received a letter from Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) Jan. 18 expressing concern that some products sold in the Institution’s stores are made outside of the United States.

Merchandising at the Smithsonian is managed centrally by Smithsonian Enterprises, which has a long-standing policy of buying American-made products whenever possible. Smithsonian buyers only attend American trade shows and contract primarily with U.S.-based companies. These companies often source their products both domestically and internationally. While the Smithsonian makes every attempt to buy American products whenever possible, some of the items offered are exclusively manufactured overseas—certain countries specialize in particular products that are no longer domestically produced. All Smithsonian stores offer options for visitors wishing to buy only American-made products.

The Smithsonian stores give people the opportunity to take memories of their museum visit home with them. The products offered are reflective of the artifacts, specimens and works of art that are on display in the museums. The Smithsonian strives to provide a selection of products at a variety of prices to ensure that there is something for everyone in its museum shops.

The revenue generated by the stores helps fund the Institution’s programs, exhibitions and events.