In 2001, Florida International University and the Smithsonian Institution signed an unprecedented accord and announced a University-wide affiliation agreement that will make many objects from the Smithsonian’s 140-million-piece collection available for study and display in Miami.
The Smithsonian Affiliate program’s mission is to make the extensive Smithsonian collection increasingly accessible to the American people by sharing artifacts and other resources with museums and cultural institutions across the country. As a Smithsonian Affiliate, the Frost Art Museum is able to integrate Smithsonian collections into exhibitions, educational initiatives and research programs and also have access to Smithsonian staff expertise in areas of conservation, collections care and exhibition development. Additionally the affiliation offers the opportunity to participate in the many outreach services of the Smithsonian including curriculum development in local schools, lectures, traveling exhibitions, workshops and study tours.
The accord with FIU was the first university-wide affiliation that the Smithsonian entered into in the continental United States. Previously, similar affiliations have been limited to university museums or art institutes. The agreement with FIU, however, ranges much farther, providing for scholarly use of Smithsonian material, collaboration on national conferences and panels, priority in securing traveling Smithsonian exhibitions and the establishment of a museum studies program at the university. President Maidique remarked on the groundbreaking accord, “The fact that our students and faculty will have ongoing access to many of the Smithsonian’s objects will dramatically enhance our academic program.”
The Smithsonian Institution was established in 1846 with funds bequeathed to the United States by James Smithson. It is composed today of 16 museums and galleries and the National Zoo, as well as numerous research facilities in the United States and abroad. Its collections are so extensive that only 1 percent of its holdings are on display at any given time.