Detail from Civil War-era letter from the exhibition MAIL CALL. Courtesy the Smithsonian National Postal Museum


The following guidelines offer detailed information on hosting an exhibition.

Need further information? Contact the Scheduling and Exhibitor Relations office at 202.633.3140 or by e-mail at





Learning about the Exhibitions

SITES publishes two periodicals and maintains a website. Update, the annual catalogue of exhibitions, describes SITES' program and contains information and specifications for all current exhibitions. Siteline, SITES' newsletter, offers feature articles on exhibitions and exhibitors.

SITES welcomes representatives of museums and related institutions to join its mailing list. To join the mailing list or to request a copy of or exhibition catalogue, click here.

To update an institution's contact information, call 202.633.3140 or Scheduling and Exhibitor Relations.

Detailed Exhibition Information
In addition to the descriptions found in Update, Siteline, and on the web site, SITES creates packets of detailed information for each exhibition. To request these materials, please call or e-mail the exhibition's scheduling contact. (Contact names are listed with each exhibition description.)

Exhibitions with Immediate Availability
Click here for a list of exhibitions available during the coming year, or contact Scheduling and Exhibitor Relations at 202.633.3140 or for more information.

Exhibition Schedules
From an exhibition description, click on the link for the exhibition's schedule. Schedules are frequently updated, but to obtain the most up-to-date information, please call the exhibition's scheduling contact. (Contact names are listed with each exhibition description.)

Every SITES exhibition includes:

  • Complete curatorial references, including a checklist and exhibition script
  • Registrarial information for condition reporting; shipping, handling, and installation instructions, crate lists, and weights
  • Wall-to-wall fine arts insurance coverage under the Smithsonian's policy
  • Public relations support in the form of press releases and images
  • Guidelines for working with Smithsonian national sponsors (if applicable)
  • Educational enrichment materials such as curriculum guides, docent training information, film lists, video and audio cassette programs, suggestions for lecture series, and computer software
  • A variety of publications that may include catalogues, posters, and brochures
  • Links and mentions on to SITES' website and social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more.
  • The opportunity to participate in the Voices of Discovery program offered by The Smithsonian Associates.

Advance Materials
Each exhibition is accompanied by resource information to help exhibitors plan and implement successful presentations. This information includes educational enrichment materials, technical instructions, public relations materials, information on national sponsors (if applicable), and condition report forms. Educational enrichment materials vary but generally include the exhibition script, background materials, teacher or docent training information, bibliographies, samples of family or student guides, and sample books or catalogues. Receipt of Advance Materials.

Security Levels
SITES exhibitions require different levels of security and environmental conditions. The type of security required for each exhibition is indicated with its description. Click here for the general guidelines for each level. Security levels apply to gallery spaces as well as for crate storage and staging areas.

Note: These are minimum requirements. Certain exhibitions may carry additional conditions that are provided to interested exhibitors and stipulated in the exhibition contract. Failure to provide security equal to or greater than that required for a particular exhibition may be considered negligence and may result in the exhibitor's liability for loss or damages.

Environmental Requirements
Temperature and light controls are required for most exhibitions. Humidity control may be required. Standard levels are 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and 45 to 50 percent relative humidity. Light levels may be specified between 5 and 15 footcandles. Direct sunlight should be diffused or eliminated to prevent fading of panels and photographs.

Exhibitors pay a participation fee to SITES for each booking and pay for shipping to the next location on the tour. All exhibitions require a deposit equal to 25% of the participation fee. All expenses for installing the exhibitions and promoting and presenting programs are paid for by the exhibitor.

Exhibitors are responsible for the cost of outgoing shipping for most exhibitions.

Outgoing - For other exhibitions, the exhibitor makes shipping arrangements to the next venue on the tour and pays all freight charges. SITES provides shipping instructions during the first week of the scheduled booking.

Prorated - SITES handles the shipping arrangements and the cost is shared by all exhibitors. For prorated exhibitions, the designated carrier contacts the exhibitor directly, generally at least two weeks prior to the closing date.

Exhibitors outside the contiguous U.S. must provide for incoming shipping from the U.S. port of exit, customs fees, and all return shipping costs to the next exhibitor in the U.S.

All exhibitions are insured by SITES and are covered by an all-risk, wall-to-wall insurance policy, subject to standard exclusions. Exhibitors must carry commercial general liability insurance. For specific details, call the SITES Registrars' office at 202.633.3170 or e-mail

Local Sponsorship
Host organizations are encouraged to seek local sponsorship for SITES exhibitions. If an exhibition has a national sponsor, SITES will provide special guidelines that spell out any restrictions. The Development Office at SITES is happy to answer questions about local and national sponsorship. For more information, call 202.633.3130 or e-mail

Commercial / Political Use of Exhibitions
No commercial or political use may be made of SITES exhibitions. The Smithsonian's traveling exhibitions may be used for educational purposes only.

Admission Fees
Without prior permission from SITES, no special fee (other than museum general admission) may be charged, and no general museum fundraising event may be held in conjunction with a SITES exhibition.

Smoking, Eating, Drinking
No smoking, food, or drinks are allowed in display, staging, or storage space containing SITES exhibitions.

Access to Exhibitions
Access to a SITES exhibition shall not be denied to anyone on the basis of race, color, national origin, or physical or cognitive disability.

Questions about any of the terms that appear on this page? See our glossary.




SITELINE Newsletter

Exhibitions Catalogue

Join the Mailing List

Teachers & Students

Subscribe to E-news

Search for Exhibitions

Immediate Availability

Guidelines for Hosting

Close-Out Survey

Installation Tips

Community Grants



| | | |

Mailing Address
PO Box 37012
MRC 941
Washington, DC 20013-7012
202.633.3168 (tel.)
202.633.5347 (fax)

Delivery Address
470 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
Suite 7103
Washington, DC 20024


Blog Facebook YouTube Twitter Subscribe to podcasts and videos SITES home