Social Science Learning Portal

The newest Smithsonian museum opened September 24, 2016, near the Washington Monument, and has welcomed more than 1 million visitors to date. It is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, art, history, and culture.

It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become members.

This Museum will tell the American story through the lens of African American history and culture. This is America’s Story and this museum is for all Americans. Lonnie Bunch III, Founding Director

National Museum of African American History and Culture

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Many Lenses

Three museums, six objects, many lenses.

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Collections

Start here to browse or search the Museums artifacts.

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Publications

Publications by the museum are highlighted here (for purchase).

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Stories

Interesting African American lives.

The National Museum of African Art is the only national museum in the United States dedicated to the collection, exhibition, conservation, and study of the arts of Africa. On exhibit are the finest examples of traditional and contemporary art from the entire continent of Africa.

National Museum of African Art

Collection

Search by artist or object, browse highlighted themes or exhibitions within our collection, or create your own list to share.

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Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives

A research and reference center with over 300,000 still photographic images documenting the arts, peoples and history of Africa over the past 120 years. Eliot Elisofon (1911-1973) was an internationally known photographer and filmmaker. He created an enduring visual record of African life from 1947 to 1973. Mr. Elisofon bequeathed to the museum his African materials, which included more than 50,00...

Launch into the history of flight by surrounding yourself with icons of air and space travel. The flagship building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C, contains twenty-three galleries exhibiting hundreds of aircraft, spacecraft, missiles, rockets, and other flight-related artifacts. The museum has a planetarium and an IMAX theater for out-of-this-world escapes. The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, in Chantilly, Virginia, houses many more artifacts in an open, hangar-like setting, including a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and space shuttle Discovery.

National Air and Space Museum

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Air and Space Museum Collections

Air and Space Museum Collections

Photo Archives

The Air and Space Museum Archives holds three million images in various photographic formats. These collections cover the breadth and depth of the history of aviation and space flight.

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Collections

The National Air and Space Museum holds in trust over 60,000 artifacts and more than 20,000 cubic feet of archival materials. Historic aircraft and space artifacts, such as the 1903 Wright Flyer and theApollo 11 Command Module Columbia, highlight the National Collection. Thousands of additional artifacts—including engines, rockets, uniforms, spacesuits, balloons, artwork, documents, manuscripts, a...

Air and Space Museum (Dulles)
National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport is the companion facility to the museum in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of historically significant air- and spacecraft, along with thousands of small artifacts, are on display in an open, hangar-like setting.

The nation’s first collection of American art offers an unparalleled record of the American experience, capturing the aspirations, character and imagination of the American people throughout three centuries. The museum is home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world, including works by such stylistically diverse luminaries as John Singleton Copley, Winslow Homer, and Georgia O’Keeffe, housed in one of the oldest public buildings constructed in early Washington.

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Renwick Gallery
Renwick Gallery

Branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum dedicated to exhibiting American contemporary craft, celebrating makers taking both innovative and time-honored approaches to their work. The Renwick Gallery is located steps from the White House in the heart of historic federal Washington. This National Historic Landmark was designed by architect James Renwick Jr. in 1858 and was the first building in...

Devoted to the scientific, cultural, social, technological, and political development of the United States, the museum traces the American experience from colonial times to the present. The American History Museum’s collection contains more than three million historical objects—including the famed Star-Spangled Banner—and documents that explore the evolution of the American identity.

National Museum of American History

Collections

The Museum has more than 3 million artifacts in its collection. Information and photos of selected objects are available in the online collections database. The database is a work-in-progress and new items will be added regularly. Museum collections reflect the breadth, depth, and complexity of the experiences of the American people, from social and cultural history to the history of science, m...

The National Museum of the American Indian cares for one of the world’s most expansive collections of Native objects, photographs, and media, covering the entire Western Hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego. The museum’s sweeping curvilinear architecture, its indigenous landscaping, and its exhibitions, all designed in collaboration with tribes and communities, combine to give visitors from around the world the sense and spirit of Native America.

National Museum of the American Indian

American Indian
Collections

The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) has one of the most extensive collections of Native American arts and artifacts in the world—approximately 266,000 catalog records (825,000 items) representing over 12,000 years of history and more than 1,200 indigenous cultures throughout the Americas.

National Postal Museum
NMAI: George Gustav Heye Center (NYC)

Sitting at the foot of the Wiechquaekeck Trail, an old Algonquin trade route (aka Broadway), the American Indian Museum’s New York location shares the Washington, D.C. location’s incredible collection and its commitment to celebrating the diverse history and contemporary voices of Native peoples throughout the western hemisphere.

Located in the Anacostia neighborhood, this museum examines, documents, and interprets the impact of historical and contemporary social issues on urban communities.

Anacostia Community Museum

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Collections

The Anacostia Community Museum collects artifacts, works of art, photographs, documents and paper records, audiovisual media, and other materials that help us understand how communities work. Collections development efforts focus on materials that document the history and everyday life of urban communities and neighborhoods in the United States and the world. ACM collections support the museum's i...

Exhibitions

Anacostia Community Museum exhibitions focus on a range of topics and issues facing urban communities today. Exhibitions invite and motivate visitors to bring their diverse knowledge, experiences, and resources to the viewing experience. The creative use of museum collections, exhibit design, and innovative interpretive methods acknowledges audience diversity and encourages visitors to think criti...

With over 16 million items in its continually growing collections, the Archives of American Art is the world’s largest and most widely used resource dedicated to collecting and preserving the papers and primary records of the visual arts in America. The Archives of American Art’s primary exhibition space, the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery, can be found on the first floor of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture in D.C.’s Penn Quarter neighborhood—also home to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.

The world's most popular natural history museum is dedicated to understanding the natural world and our place in it. Delve into the fascinating story of our planet, from its fiery beginnings through billions of years of transformation, and explore life on Earth through exhibitions and activities, collection objects and research that happens in the lab and in the field. The museum is larger than 18 football fields and is home to the largest natural history collection in the world.

With the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery introduces you to the people who have shaped the country—poets, presidents, actors, activists, visionaries, villains...and everyone in between. Its collection weaves together story and biography from precolonial times to the present to tell the American story.

Arts and Industries Building

The Arts and Industries Building has a special role among Smithsonian buildings as the first United States National Museum opened in 1881. After being closed for nearly 12 years, the Arts and Industries Building reopened for special events fall of 2015 and has hosted several activities, including the 2016 Folklife Festival Marketplace and the Asian Pacific American Center’s “Crosslines Culture Lab.” Plans are being developed for the next chapter of this amazing building.

Smithsonian Institution Building (The Castle)

Completed in 1855, the Castle is our signature building and home to the Smithsonian Visitor Center. As such, it makes a great starting point for your journey—here you can get a grasp of the scope and scale of the Smithsonian, see collections highlights from each of our museums, tour the Castle’s 19th-century architecture, see what’s going on today at all the museums, and consult with our in-house experts about what to see and do.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The Hirshhorn features international modern and contemporary art in the celebrated Gordon Bunshaft designed cylindrical building, adjoining plaza, and sunken sculpture garden. The museum is a leading voice for contemporary art and culture and provides a national platform for the art and artists of our time.

Smithsonian Gardens

The many gardens that surround the Smithsonian museums are a “museum without walls.” All have been designed to complement the museums they border and to enhance the overall museum experience of learning, appreciation, and enjoyment.

Other Smithsonian Museum Sites

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Cooper Hewitt is the nation’s only museum dedicated to historic and contemporary design, with a collection of over 210,000 design objects spanning thirty centuries. Located in the landmark Andrew Carnegie mansion and boasting a beautiful public garden, Cooper Hewitt makes design come alive with unique temporary exhibitions and installations of the permanent collection.

National Zoo

Always free of charge and open 364 days a year, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo sits on 163 acres in the heart of Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park. Founded in 1889, the Zoo is currently home to more than 1,500 animals across 300 different species.

Freer Gallery of Art

The Smithsonian Institution has two museums of Asian art: the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. The Freer Gallery houses one of the premier collections of Asian art, with objects dating from Neolithic times to the early 20th century, as well as the world's most important collection of works by James McNeill Whistler.

National Postal Museum

Located in the historic D.C. City Post Office next to the restored Union Station, the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum showcases the largest and most comprehensive collection of stamps and philatelic material in the world—including postal stationery, vehicles used to transport the mail, mailboxes, meters, cards and letters, and postal materials that predate the use of stamps. Visitors can walk along a Colonial post road, ride with the mail in a stagecoach, browse through a small town post office from the 1920s, receive free stamps to start a collection and more.

S. Dillon Ripley Center

Entered from a copper domed kiosk on Jefferson Drive between the "Castle" and the Freer Gallery of Art, the S. Dillon Ripley Center houses the Smithsonian Associates, the Discovery Theater, and the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service.

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

The Smithsonian Institution has two museums of Asian art: the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. The Sackler Gallery features both permanent and temporary exhibitions from ancient times to the present. The museum is home to an incomparable collection of art, including some of the most important ancient Chinese jades and bronzes in the world. In addition to the exhibitions on display, the galleries feature innovative programming for visitors of all ages, such as lectures, concerts, films, and podcasts that enhance and extend the visit.

Smithsonian Collections

1846: Portrait of a Nation

On August 10, 1846, the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution was passed by Congress and immediately signed into law by President James K. Polk. In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of that event, this exhibition looks back at the America of 1846.

SNAPSHOTS of LIFE: Smithsonian Photos

Portrait of Sadhubaba

A Sadhu is a religious ascetic or holy person who renounce his worldly life. Varanasi is a home for all the Sadhus who live and die for their entire life.

In the thunderstorm

When the tide starts to recede, a large coral reef is gradually rise up from the water. At the same time, a very violent thunder storm suddenly appeared. All of that factors had created a unique beauty of the mother nature.

Mother Protection

A mother polar bear and her 1.5 years old cub are curling up on a floating ice in the arctic ocean. The ice in the arctic is melting rapidly mainly due to the global warming . The outcome is reduce in the polar bears hunting areas. That's one of the reasons that polar bears have been found lately a

Golden Glow

Just as the sun was setting on a beautiful day in Alaska, this female brown bear emerged from the woods with her two cubs. It was time to catch some fish and I had a good idea of where she was heading. There was a high bank she would often walk down and fish from a ledge that overlooked the water. E

Eye of the Earth

This shot of a small glacial lake surrounded by ice was taken from a float plane in Denali National Park, Alaska. Perhaps it was my most exciting visual experience while flying over there. This photo is best viewed on full screen. The structure of ice and snow creates an interesting effect. If you d

Harvesting Salt

Salt fields are also Bac Lieu’s specialty. Bac Lieu is the salt basket of the Mekong Delta, with vast salt fields running along the coast. The salt fields in Bac Lieu are divided into squares and rows full of white salt sparkling below the sunshine.

A Dinka Sings to His Cattle

A Dinka tribesman sings to his cattle as the sun sets over his cattle camp next to the Nile river in the Jonglei state of South Sudan. As the sun fell over the camp, fires were lit in order to create smoke to prevent mosquitoes from biting the cows.

We're Not in Kansas Anymore

My daughter Chloe climbed atop a boulder at a Walker Canyon trailhead. She is admiring the poppy-covered hills in Lake Elsinore, witnessing her first California super bloom.

5:11 A.M in Maidan

The glow from the lights paired with the silhouettes of the horses make such a beautiful yet eerie photograph. I love the leading line you used in your frame to trail our eye to the darkness at the end of the lights and create mystery about what is at the end.

Surrounded Brown Bear

A brown bear is surrounded by hundreds of sockeye salmon. They are keeping their distance, and he waits for the right opportunity to charge.

A Peek of a Peak

There one moment, and gone the next. A late autumn storm drops fresh snow on the peaks of Glacier National Park, as well as almost completely concealing them behind thick clouds. After noticing this mountain briefly poke out of the mist and then vanish, I prepared my camera and waited for it to pres

Silence

Previously, at this place, these bushes grew, which are on the monitor. Now they are gone, only the image remains

Esteiro

Esteiro is a top beach for surf lovers. In northwest Spain, the place gets amazing with sunset light, as the light hits the water in contrast with the dangerous rocks. The place is not very crowded as it is often windy and cold. That is the reason why surfers and local people love it, same as me.

An Anteater Comes Up for Air

The Pantanal of Brazil is full of strange creatures, none more so than the giant anteater. With very poor eyesight, these creatures rely on their sense of smell to locate not just ants and termites below the surface of the Earth, but also danger and predators. While taking a break from eating at a

Adélie Penguin on an Iceberg

Ice-dependent animals are in perilous danger of losing their habitat. This photo shows an Adélie penguin standing on an iceberg off Devil Island, Antarctica. I like how the half-lit, sea-eroded iceberg gives the scene a sense of dichotomy. Perhaps the penguin's indecision on which way to go, or perh

Lazy Days

A wall in the harbor, summer feeling and a beautiful teen completing the frame. I love those lazy days where everything you do is walk and get the sun on your face. Summer memories (O Vicedo, Spain)

Humpbacks Bubble-Net Feeding

Bubble-net feeding is a unique feeding technique employed by humpback whales in which a group of whales swims in a shrinking circle blowing bubbles below a school of fish. This shrinking column of bubbles surrounds the school of fish, forcing them upward. Antarctica, January 2019

Synchronized Swimmer

My daughters are synchronized swimmers, and I enjoy shooting their practices. The team practiced throughout the winter months, which allowed for some dramatic shots given that pool was steamy at night.

Low Tide

Villagers are going to fetch water from a hand-scooped waterhole on the Irrawaddy River bank during low tide. Different patterns usually form at the beginning of the summer season on the Irrawaddy River bank. Water is scare at that time.

Fish Eats Fish

A juvenile grouper is fighting for its life as a lizard fish tries ingest it. After this shot, the juvenile grouper managed to break free from the lizard fish's jaw. It was alive, but could barely swim. It took two breaths before it was eaten by a prowling snapper nearby.

Sunset and Flamingos

This is Pulicat Lake, which is the second largest lagoon in India. Every year thousands of flamingos visit this place. I spent eight hours photographing these birds at this place, and this was the image I made when the sun was setting. I spent almost six hours shooting these birds sitting in the wat

Plastic

This image belongs to a series of portraits made of apneist Miguel Lozano to illustrate the impact of plastics in the oceans.

Our Promise

Devotees make contact with the glass carriage containing a statue of Jesus Christ during the Holy Week procession in Lucban, Philippines. Faith is all these men have in common — some believe that family members who are sick will be cured, some ask to pass licensure exams, some pray to have a baby, s

Transporting Cargo

Many items you are surrounded by in your houses right now likely came from somewhere far away. Very likely, they spent some time moving around the planet in trucks like these, ready to take goods from one of the busiest ports in Europe in Antwerp, Belgium.

Propeller Trial Run

Making propellers for fishing boats is one of traditional jobs in areas close to the Ham Luong River in Ben Tre province, Vietnam. This photo shows a man testing a large-size propeller to see whether it operates smoothly and is balanced. This job depends heavily on manual operations, and the testing

Young Humpback Whale

Edited photographer caption: I took this photo in Vava'u, Tonga. My estimate is that this whale is about three months old. I stayed quietly on the surface so as not to surprise the mother and the whale.

Dinagyang Festival

The Dinagyang Festival is an annual religious and sociocultural gathering held in honor of Santo Niño on the fourth Sunday of January in Iloilo City, Philippines.

Start of the Long Journey

During Holy Week in Lucban, Philippines, devotees gather inside a church around a statue of Jesus Christ encased in glass. This marks the beginning of the “Mahal na Señor" procession through the town.

Above and Below

An aircraft preparing for landing at Tan Son Nhat International Airport flies over the streets of Ho Chi Minh City.

Family

I took this photo at the Oil Tank Culture Park in Seoul, South Korea in May 2019. The park was built as a secret government oil storage depot during the 1970s oil crisis and is a great space to shoot.