A new agreement between the Smithsonian Institution and the South Dakota State Historical Society is bringing the world’s largest museum and research complex a step closer to South   Dakota.

More details will be announced in a press conference Friday, Jan. 11, in the state Capitol inPierre.

Jay Smith, state museum director for the South Dakota State Historical Society, said the South Dakota State Historical Society has been accepted into the Smithsonian Affiliation program. Essentially that means the two organizations have established a long-term relationship that will make it easier to bring Smithsonian resources toSouth Dakotawhile also sharing items and artifacts fromSouth Dakota’s collections with the Smithsonian for research purposes, for example.

“This isn’t a blue light special to go shopping at the Smithsonian,” Smith said. “But it is a way for us to shareSouth Dakotawith the Smithsonian and for them to share the Smithsonian with us.”

Harold Closter, director of Smithsonian Affiliations, said the Smithsonian set up the program 17 years ago to help bring the Smithsonian out ofWashingtonand into local communities.  Currently the Smithsonian has 177 affiliate partnerships in 41 states, as well as Puerto Rico andPanama.

The agreement with the South Dakota State Historical Society is the first Smithsonian Affiliation in South   Dakota, Closter said.

“It’s very much a two-way street,” Closter said. “We’re involved in joint research with some of our affiliates – dinosaur research in Montana, slavery era research in the South. They’re closer to the local story.”

The program is funded entirely by private donations, not from tax dollars, Closter said. There is a $2,500 annual administrative fee to the museum that participates with the Smithsonian in the Smithsonian Affiliation program.

Closter said a key benefit for participating will be that it givesSouth Dakotansa greater chance to learn from some of the world’s finest museum collections in experiences that can be life-changing.

“It’s a technical term – it’s called the a-ha moment. It’s when something happens to a visitor,” Closter said.

Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian is the world's largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities.


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