Smithsonian is a laboratory for learning and innovation
educator showing cowrie shells to students

The Smithsonian shares the depth and breadth of the institution’s extraordinary collections and research with learners of all ages and educators everywhere. Our more than 300 educators and 200 Affiliate organizations bring Smithsonian knowledge, compelling stories, exhibitions and artifacts, and inquiry-based lessons to more than 8 million learners across the globe each year.

All facets of the Smithsonian—21 museums, 14 education and research centers, and the National Zoo—are committed to reaching communities near and far. We connect with diverse audiences, including under-resourced communities and underserved individuals, to enrich programs, curriculum and exhibitions. We invite dialogue and exchange to inspire communities of learners to think critically about complex global challenges.

Smithsonian Education

For more than 175 years, the Smithsonian has sparked curiosity and a passion for knowledge. Today, our dynamic educators continue this pursuit, showcasing stories, artifacts, and exhibitions to over 8 million young people around the globe. Each year, across 21 museums and libraries, the National Zoo and Science Centers, the Smithsonian proudly partners with teachers to develop interactive lessons for all ages and at-home activities for families. Many of our museums offer virtual age-appropriate field trips and interactive experiences, giving students a view of the Smithsonian without ever leaving their home or classroom. We also offer many localized resources, from STEAM initiatives and environmental awareness projects to programs that spotlight art and honor cultural heritage. As we aim to reach every classroom in America, Smithsonian education has an incredible opportunity to empower tomorrow's innovators, those who will live and work on Mars, solve the climate change crisis, and write the next chapter of our collective history. Our mission is clear. We're investing in our future leaders today, tomorrow, and for generations to come.

Under Secretary Dr. Monique Chism stands with a group of students in front of a museum artwork.

Smithsonian Office of the Under Secretary for Education

The Smithsonian has set an ambitious goal to reach every classroom across the U.S. with relevant, engaging, and free education resources. To realize this vision, the Office of the Under Secretary for Education is developing a robust network of partnerships with State Education Agencies, school districts, educators, and community organizations nationwide to engage teachers and students in the classroom and during out-of-school time.

An intern is instructed about gardening techniques.

Smithsonian Office of Academic Appointments and Internships

The Smithsonian’s Office of Academic Appointments and Internships has the central management and administrative responsibility for the Institution's internships, fellowships, and other academic appointments.  Hundreds of graduate students, scientists and scholars come to the Smithsonian to do independent research under the guidance of a member of our world-class research staff. Fellows conduct research and study utilizing the Smithsonian collections, facilities, and experts in their fields and beyond. In addition, more than 1,800 students pursue internships supporting learning experiences across the Institution. 

A young student explores a fossil on the Learning Lab platform.

Smithsonian Office of Educational Technology

The Smithsonian Office of Educational Technology (OET) puts the Smithsonian at your fingertips, serving as the gateway to the Institution’s digital educational resources. OET produces and maintains the Smithsonian Learning Lab, an award-winning interactive platform that provides digital tools and resources to help educators and families access Smithsonian resources, customize learning experiences, and create meaningful connections to our museum artifacts from anywhere in the world. It offers free digital access to millions of Smithsonian artworks, artifacts, specimens, recordings, learning activities, and teaching materials for the PK-12 classroom from across the Smithsonian’s 21 museums, education and research centers, and the National Zoo. OET collaborates through partnerships with educational organizations, libraries, school districts, and universities to engage various audiences in using the Lab. 

Photograph of the Smithsonian Castle with a blue sky.

Smithsonian Associates

Smithsonian Associates offers unparalleled access to the Smithsonian's world of knowledge through innovative, engaging learning experiences for people of all ages. The largest museum-based educational program in the world, Smithsonian Associates annually offers more than 1,000 livestreamed and in-person lectures, seminars, performances, studio art classes, study tours, and children’s programs. Performances at Discovery Theater, Smithsonian Nighttime Adventures and Sleepovers, and more than 80 educationally focused summer camps are among the programs that foster the joys of learning for young people and their families. 

A group of students wearing masks smiles at the camera. One is holding a shark jaw.

Smithsonian Affiliations

Smithsonian Affiliations share the Institution’s resources with Americans in their own communities by developing collaborative relationships with museums, cultural, and educational organizations. Together, we bring the Smithsonian, in all of its breadth and scope, to local communities and create lasting experiences that broaden perspectives on science, history, world cultures, and the arts. There are more than 200 Smithsonian Affiliates in nearly every state, Puerto Rico, and Panama. Affiliations is a program of Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service | Smithsonian Affiliations. 

A woman interacts with a screen in an exhibition.

Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) serves as the Institution’s ambassador and emissary through traveling and virtual exhibits that bring knowledge, discovery, and experiences to people across America and beyond. Wherever SITES goes, it stimulates conversations: between the national and local, between the expected and unexpected. SITES’ presence changes lives, institutions, and communities. SITES is a program of Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service | Smithsonian Affiliations. (Image: courtesy the Heinz History Center) 

A community leader tells stories on a porch while a filming crew captures the moment.

Museum on Main Street

Museum on Main Street is a Smithsonian outreach program that engages small town audiences and brings revitalized attention to underserved rural communities. We partner with state humanities councils to bring traveling exhibitions, educational resources, story collection projects, and programming to small towns across America through their own local museums, historical societies, and other cultural venues. Museum on Main Street is a program of Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service | Smithsonian Affiliations. (Image: courtesy St. Joseph Museum and Cultural Center) 

A group of 4H members pose in a museum courtyard.

Smithsonian Rural Initiative

The Smithsonian Rural Initiative, founded in 2021, provides space for dialogue, prioritizes diversity, and leads our collaborations with networks of local organizations serving rural communities. Working with local leaders to identify specific needs, the Smithsonian commits to expanding programming and resources in regions where needs are greatest. As much as we seek to share, we aim to learn even more from communities across the country. 

Two young students investigate a museum object.

Smithsonian Science Education Center

The Smithsonian Science Education Center is transforming K–12 Education through Science in collaboration with communities across the globe. This unique organization promotes inquiry-based STEM teaching and learning; ensures diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in K–12 STEM education; advances STEM education for sustainable development; and translates the research and collections of the Smithsonian into meaningful tools and convenings for K–12 students, teachers and administrators through its STEM curriculum, digital assets, professional development, and leadership development.