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About the Smithsonian’s Collections

The scope and scale of the Smithsonian’s collections are staggering: more than 155 million objects and specimens, 145,000 cubic feet of archives, and nearly three million library volumes.


Smithsonian collections include iconic objects that millions of visitors come to see, such as the Star-Spangled Banner, the Space Shuttle Discovery, the Hope Diamond, and the Giant Pandas. Some items may never be publicly displayed, but are essential to the work of scientists and researchers around the world. Together, these collections are fundamental to carrying out the Smithsonian’s mission: to increase and diffuse knowledge for current and future generations.

The Smithsonian’s collections are not static. They continue to grow and change to support the Smithsonian’s mission and programmatic goals. New acquisitions help document our changing world and provide diverse perspectives on our nation’s continuing story.

Behind the scenes is a dedicated team of professionals, including curatorsregistrarscollections managersconservatorsarchivists, librariansanimal keepershorticulturists, and facility managers. These stewards manage, preserve, and provide access to the collections the Smithsonian holds in its trust. Their expertise, combined with new technologies, allows the Smithsonian to better preserve collections, extract new layers of information from new and old collections, and provide greater access to collections for current and future generations to enjoy and study.


Explore the stories behind selected objects displayed in the Smithsonian Castle Commons:

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