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Smithsonian Revises Special Events Policy

Three-year Pilot Will Allow the Rental of Smithsonian Spaces for Private Events


The Smithsonian will allow the rental of museum spaces for private events as part of a three-year pilot program. Starting March 1, individuals and organizations can rent Smithsonian spaces for the following five categories of events:

  • Corporate and non-profit receptions
  • Fundraising events for organizations with a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status
  • Private business meetings in non-public spaces, such as conference rooms
  • Personal social events for adults such as weddings, memorials, anniversary celebrations and birthday parties
  • Personal social events for youth such as birthday parties, prom parties, etc.

Directors of Smithsonian museums and research centers have decided which of these five categories of events will be permitted in their buildings, based on their available public spaces and resources. Some museums may choose not to permit the rental of spaces for all of these categories, so groups interested in renting space should visit to see what types of events are permitted at a particular museum. 

This pilot policy updates the existing Smithsonian Special Events policy, which has allowed corporate donors to co-sponsor or co-host events with the Smithsonian in museum spaces. These co-hosted events were subject to a number of guidelines and were co-branded with the museum. The revised policy will offer more flexibility in the types of events that can be held in Smithsonian spaces, including, for the first time, rentals for individual personal events (weddings, birthdays, alumni reunions, etc.). Private events will no longer use the Smithsonian’s name or brand, and they will not be hosted by Smithsonian museums and staff.

Smithsonian spaces cannot be rented for public programs or political activities, including fundraising for candidates or other activities directed toward the success or failure of a candidate, political party or partisan political group.

Smithsonian directors and staff will evaluate the success and sustainability of this policy and will make changes as needed throughout the three-year period.

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