The Smithsonian Institution has announced the conclusion of a three-year, $1.5 billion capital campaign.
Through the Smithsonian Campaign, which encompassed all nineteen museums in the Smithsonian system, the National Zoo, and nine research centers and educational units, the Smithsonian raised a record $1.88 billion in contributions from five hundred and thirty-five foundations, corporations, and individual donors from all fifty states and more than a hundred countries. According to the Smithsonian, it is the largest amount ever raised through a capital campaign by a cultural organization.
Publicly launched in October 2014 with the goal of raising $1.5 billion by December 31, 2017, the campaign focused on new and renovated facilities and public spaces, educational and outreach initiatives, endowment support, scientific research, and programs and exhibitions. Gifts to the campaign resulted in the endowment of sixty-eight positions institution-wide, including six directors, seventeen curators, and forty-five fellows. The largest gift, more than $50 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was made in support of educational programs, scholarly initiatives, and the creation of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in 2016. Overall, a total of $412 million was given for endowment support for programs and positions.
Approximately 60 percent of the Smithsonian's annual operating budget is funded through federal appropriations. Philanthropic gifts and business revenues generate the remainder.
"The historic success of the Smithsonian Campaign demonstrates what's possible when each of the Smithsonian's museums, research centers, and education programs come together as one and, fueled by the generosity of our community, aspire to make an even greater impact on our nation and the world," said Smithsonian secretary David Skorton.