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


Exhibition Arrival
Exhibitions are delivered at least five working days before the opening date. If the exhibition has not arrived five working days prior to the opening date, call SITES immediately.

Condition Reports
SITES provides exhibitors with forms and instructions to report the condition of the exhibition within 48 hours of unpacking, and again upon repacking. Unless other arrangements are made, the exhibition must acclimatize for at least 24 hours before unpacking. SITES must be notified immediately of any loss or damage which occurs while the exhibition is on display. Any visible damage to an object and/or improper packing must be documented with photographs before the object is removed from its crate. Frames may not be opened nor other damages repaired without express permission from SITES' registrars. In event of damage, call 202.633.3170 immediately and ask to speak with the exhibition's registrar.

Failure to file a condition report or to notify SITES of damage or loss may result in an exhibitor being considered negligent, and thus liable for the full cost of the damage or loss.

SITES exhibitions travel in custom-built crates, which must be stored in a secure area that meets the environmental conditions required for the exhibition. Crates should be carefully examined for damage before they are unpacked. External crate damage must be reported, and should also be documented with photographs.

SITES provides written support materials for planning installations, including checklists, crate content lists, and instructions tailored for each specific exhibition. Exhibitors must provide equipment and staff or other qualified persons to unpack, install, and repack the exhibition.

As a rule, SITES staff members do not travel with exhibitions, although for certain exhibitions staff will assist with installation or de-installation.

The complete exhibition must be displayed, unless SITES has provided permission to do otherwise. Requests for waivers must be submitted in writing.

Outgoing Shipping Arrangements
For exhibitions with prorated shipping, the SITES designated carrier will contact the exhibitor directly, generally at least two weeks prior to the closing date.

For exhibitions with standard shipping, instructions should arrive during the first week of the scheduled booking. If outgoing shipping instructions haven't arrived when expected, immediately call SITES at 202.633.3170 and ask to speak to the exhibition's registrar.

Note: If an exhibitor fails to follow SITES shipping instructions, that exhibitor may have to pay all or a portion of the next exhibitor's fee. If the exhibition is late arriving at the next booking due to a failure in following instructions, the outgoing shipping exhibitor is liable for refunds or discounts to the next institution. Exhibitors will also be responsible for the cost of extra shipments if the exhibition is sent to the wrong location, or if tardy shipments result in increased charges for premium shipping.

Close-Out Reports
Prior to an exhibition's opening, SITES provides each exhibitor with a close-out report. As outlined in the exhibition contract, exhibitors must return their completed report to SITES in a timely manner. This feedback helps SITES provide the best possible service to its exhibitors. Questions about the close-out report should be directed to the Public Relations office at 202.633.3120.

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