Every membership helps the Smithsonian thrive

At the heart of the Smithsonian’s 21 museums, 9 research centers, and the National Zoo are the people who sustain our commitment to celebrating our nation’s history, our art and science, our inventions—and preserving them for future generations.

Private support through Friends of the Smithsonian membership plays a pivotal role in every Smithsonian experience. It is essential to this institution and its mission. Donors can choose to provide unrestricted support through a variety of Friends membership programs which offer exclusive benefits, privileges, and recognition.

If you choose to join as a $1,000 Castle Circle member or a member of the James Smithson Society, where annual gifts start at $2,500, you will be part of an extraordinarily dedicated group of friends and experience the wonders of the Smithsonian in a more engaged and rewarding way, with additional, specially designed benefits.

When you become a Friends of the Smithsonian member you become part of an important philanthropic group. Collectively, the Friends help make possible the one-of-a-kind exhibitions, programs, website content, research, and educational resources that people associate with the Smithsonian.

Membership support enriches the lives of children, families, and adults who seek knowledge and meaningful entertainment from the Smithsonian, across the country and around the world.

Please join us today.

Friends of the Smithsonian

A membership in the Friends of the Smithsonian provides philanthropic support to the entire institution, including all of our museums, the National Zoo, our research centers, Smithsonian website, outreach programs, and much more.

All Friends of the Smithsonian receive a subscription to Smithsonian magazine, exclusive shopping and dining discounts at the museums and online, and more! Explore all benefits below.

Scholar ($75 - $149)

  • A Smithsonian annual engagement calendar with full-color images of exceptional art and artifacts, mailed in the fall.
  • Subscription to Smithsonian, the award-winning magazine of the arts, sciences, and history. Early access to Smithsonian magazine produced events.
  • Invitations to four exclusive virtual programs for Friends of the Smithsonian members with Smithsonian experts.
  • 10% discount in Smithsonian Museum Stores (good on purchases up to $200); 10% discount with the Smithsonian Catalogue, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, and online.
  • Recognition in the Friends of the Smithsonian Honor Roll.
  • Special member rate for tickets to the Smithsonian’s IMAX® theaters and Einstein Planetarium.
  • Free admission to the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City.

Archivist ($150 - $249)

  • A complimentary copy of the annual Smithsonian museum guidebook.
  • Invitation to a special welcome event for new members at a Smithsonian venue.
  • Plus all Scholar level benefits

Researcher ($250 - $499)

  • A gift edition of a major Smithsonian exhibition catalogue or publication.
  • An annual invitation to a members-only lecture by a distinguished Smithsonian curator, scholar or expert.
  • Updates on important initiatives and museum news from Smithsonian leadership.
  • 10% discount at select Smithsonian dining facilities.
  • Plus all Archivist level benefits

Curator ($500 - $999)

  • Invitations to behind-the-scenes tour, or receptions that give insight into the Smithsonian's latest exhibitions and research.
  • Receipt of the Smithsonian Annual Report, which provides an overview of the Smithsonian's achievements and priorities.
  • Subscription to the IMPACT Newsletter highlighting news and exhibits throughout the Smithsonian.
  • Updates on important initiatives and museum news from Smithsonian leadership.
  • Plus all Researcher level benefits

Castle Circle

To thank Castle Circle members for your especially generous support, we are pleased to offer these benefits, designed to enhance your relationship with the Smithsonian.

Castle Circle members receive all Curator membership benefits in addition to perks and privileges specially selected for Castle Circle members.

Castle Circle ($1,000)

  • Special invitations during the year to members-only tours, receptions, and lectures. This includes one Castle-Circle-specific reception in a museum after hours.
  • Subscription to the Connections newsletter.
  • Frameable print with unique insight into the history of the Smithsonian Castle.
  • A Castle Circle membership representative at the Smithsonian to respond to your inquiries, including help in planning a visit to the Smithsonian.
  • 20% discount in Smithsonian Museum stores*, 20% discount at (not combinable with other offers).
  • $500/per person discount off a Smithsonian Journeys trip anytime you travel**
  • Plus all Curator level benefits

* Discount only good on purchases up to $200. Discount valid only in select Smithsonian Museum stores.

** Offered to one member and one travel companion on same tour booking one time only. Not combinable with other offers. Non-transferable. Must be a direct booking with Journeys. Does not include private jet or tailor made tours.

James Smithson Society

In addition to enjoying all that Friends of the Smithsonian and Castle Circle has to offer, our most generous friends receive unique benefits designed to draw you into the heart of the Smithsonian and recognize your support in extraordinary ways. If you are a deeply dedicated Smithsonian supporter and wish to experience an even closer relationship with this one-of-a-kind institution, please accept our cordial invitation to join the James Smithson Society today.

$2,500 – $4,999

  • Invitation for two to the Annual Smithsonian Weekend, a special chance to access the Smithsonian as few do. Experience exclusive lectures and tours from curators and scholars, hear the Secretary's Keynote Address covering Institutional priorities and achievements, and join in evening events with Smithsonian's leadership held in Smithsonian museums.
  • Private receptions and early entry at select Friends of the Smithsonian events.
  • Invitation to an exclusive James Smithson Society exhibition opening or behind-the-scenes tour.
  • Invitation to the annual Food for Thought luncheon series and opportunity to sponsor.
  • Newsletters with insider information for our members.
  • Special recognition in the Smithsonian annual report and other publications.
  • Personal access to Smithson Society staff through the Society’s direct phone line, and assistance when planning a visit to Smithsonian museums.
  • Plus all Castle Circle level benefits

$5,000 – $9,999

  • A private, scholar hosted tour in a Smithsonian museum, research center, or Affiliate museum upon request.
  • A $150-level Friends of the Smithsonian membership to give as a gift.
  • Invitations to special Smithsonian events across the country.
  • Plus benefits of previous giving level.

$10,000 – $19,999

  • Invitation to an exclusive event during the Annual Smithsonian Weekend.
  • Complimentary tickets for two guests to accompany you to the Smithson Dinner during the Annual Smithsonian Weekend (upon request).
  • Special recognition in the Annual Smithsonian Weekend Dinner Program.
  • Opportunity to consult with a Smithsonian curator about an object the donor owns or is considering purchasing (by appointment).
  • An additional optional benefit is available. Members may choose two complimentary tickets for guests to the Annual Smithsonian Weekend's Smithson Dinner. (Due to the high market value of these benefits, your request for these benefits will decrease the tax-deductible portion of your membership dues. Please contact the Smithson Society for more information.)
  • Plus benefits of previous giving level.

$25,000 - $49,999

  • Invitation for two to the annual Adams Circle private reception and dinner with museum leaders, along with special access to Smithsonian collections through tours.
  • Opportunity for a personalized tour of a new exhibition with the organizing curator.
  • An opportunity to visit one of the Smithsonian’s research centers across the United States or Panama.
  • Plus benefits of previous giving level.


  • Annual impact briefing with Smithsonian Institution Advancement Leadership.
  • Invitation to attend Salon Events with Smithsonian Experts.
  • Personalized Impact Report twice yearly.
  • Plus benefits of previous giving level.

Member Events

We are pleased to offer a variety of events curated for our different membership levels. Our signature events include an in-person lecture by a distinguished Smithsonian curator, scholar or expert and an after-hours, behind-the-scenes tour with reception for one of the Smithsonian's latest exhibitions. All member levels are invited to four virtual lectures from Smithsonian experts.

Members of the Castle Circle also enjoy an evening reception in a museum after hours specifically for Castle Circle members.

James Smithson Society members are granted early entry and a small private reception to select signature events, as well as an invitation for two to the Annual Smithsonian Weekend; a special weekend event with exclusive lectures and tours, a keynote address from the Secretary, and evening events with Smithsonian's leadership held in Smithsonian museums. Members at this level also receive an invitation to an exclusive exhibition opening or behind-the-scenes tour and to our summer Food for Thought lecture/luncheon series.

Our events are not limited to the Smithsonian’s campus. We take Smithsonian experts across the country to special in-person lecture/luncheon events and partner with Smithsonian Affiliate Museums. Members may also be invited to regional events put on by other Smithsonian museums.

View featured upcoming and recent member events »

Tax Information About Your Membership Dues

In accordance with IRS regulations, membership dues payments to the Friends of the Smithsonian are tax deductible, minus the fair market value of the customizable benefits you choose to receive. See a listing of our tax-deductible benefits and information for 2024: Friends of the Smithsonian and James Smithson Society. Over and above to their dues, many Friends of the Smithsonian members make additional gifts which are 100% tax-deductible.

Looking for a Media Membership?

Join the Friends of the Smithsonian at the Supporting Member level to receive Smithsonian magazine, a celebration of history, science, nature, and world culture, along with special member discounts in museums and online. This membership does not receive tax deduction benefits.

Contact Us

We can answer any questions you may have regarding your Friends of the Smithsonian membership or events you wish to attend, provide directions, or assist you in any other Smithsonian matter of importance to you. Or, get answers to frequently asked questions about Friends of the Smithsonian memberships and gifts in our FAQ »

Friends of the Smithsonian

t: 202-633-6300
t: 800-931-3226 (toll free)
f: 202-633-2043


Mailing Address
Friends of the Smithsonian
PO Box 37012, MRC 712
Washington, DC 20013-7012

James Smithson Society

t: 202-633-2040
t: 877-JSS-1775 (toll free)


Mailing Address
James Smithson Society
PO Box 37012, MRC 712
Washington, DC 20013-7012