Smithsonian Institution

Tutorial

Collections Search Center

The Collections Search Center provides easy "one-stop searching" of more than 8.1 million of the Smithsonian's museum, archives, library and research holdings and collections. The access to more Smithsonian collections via this Search Center is increasing over time.

The Smithsonian Collections Search Center is mobile-aware. Users visiting the site with their iPhone or Android devices should automatically be redirected to a mobile friendly version of the site while users of PCs, Macs, and iPads receive the fully formatted pages.

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Search Tips

Contents in this search center are mostly brief catalog records describing our collections. Citations, descriptions and access points (not full text documents) are indexed and searchable.

Search terms should include KEY words or short phrases. Try to avoid using terms such as: of, in, during, with, by, the, collection, object, item, image, photo, culture, people, antique, history, etc.

Examples:

  • For photo of garden, use gardens,
  • For insect collections, use insects,
  • For Cherokee culture items, use Cherokee.
  • For Lenin during the Bolshevik Revolution, use Lenin Bolshevik Revolution.
  • For paintings by Alexander Calder, use Calder Alexander paintings.
  • For image of Thomas Mahone, use "Mahone, Thomas" or "Mahone Thomas"

Use quotation marks to ensure words are in exact order.

Examples:

  • "Civil War"
  • "underground railroad"
  • "wonder woman"

Use a "+" in front of each word to ensure the search terms MUST BE matched. Use a "-" in front of each word to ensure the search terms MUST BE excluded.

Examples:

  • "Tuskegee Airmen" +medal
  • +Boston "Tea Party"
  • +William +Zorach +paintings -sculpture

Personal Name Searching
Names are often cataloged in Last name, First name order. Try to search in this order first. There is an auto-suggest function based on your search term. You can also search names with quotation marks for tighter search results.

Examples:

  • For George Washington, use "Washington, George" or "George Washington"
  • For William H. Johnson, use "Johnson, William" . "William Johnson" will not find "William H. Johnson".

Use filters to narrow your search results.

Examples:

  • Looking for photographs of African Americans from the 1940s
    1. Use: "African Americans" as your search term,
    2. Apply Online Media narrow by "images" in the left column,
    3. Apply Type narrow by "Photographs" in the left column,
    4. Apply Date narrow by in the left column, look for 1940s.
  • Looking for antique lunchboxes
    1. Use: Lunchbox as your search term,
    2. Apply Online Media narrow by "images" in the left column,
    3. Apply Date narrow by in the left column; look for the date range you desire.

Search Options

Museum Objects Category includes permanent object collections from the following Smithsonian museums:

  • Anacostia Community Museum
  • Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
  • Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
  • Horticulture Artifact Collection, Smithsonian Gardens
  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
  • National Air and Space Museum
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • National Museum of African Art
  • National Museum of American History
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • National Museum of Natural History
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • National Postal Museum
  • National Zoo
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum

Library & Archives Category includes Smithsonian-owned materials and collections from the following Smithsonian Libraries and Archives:

  • Anacostia Community Museum Archives
  • Archives of American Art
  • Archives of American Gardens
  • Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives - National Museum of African Art
  • Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
  • National Air & Space Museum Archives
  • National Museum of American History Archives
  • National Museum of the American Indian Archives
  • National Museum of Natural History - Human Studies Film Archives
  • National Museum of Natural History - National Anthropological Archives
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum's Photo Study Collections
  • Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
  • Smithsonian Institution Archives
  • Smithsonian Institution Libraries

General Reference Category includes citation references of publications, art works, and other information that may or may not be owned by the Smithsonian.

  • National Museum of Natural History - Invertebrate Zoology - Cephalopod Bibliography
  • National Museum of Natural History - Vertebrate Zoology - Marine Mammals Bibliography
  • National Portrait Gallery - Catalog of American Portraits
  • Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies - Museum Studies Bibliography
  • Smithsonian Institution Archives - History Division
  • Smithsonian Institution Libraries - Artists Files, Staff Publications, Trade Literature
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum, Art Inventories Catalog
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum, Pre-1877 Art Exhibition Catalogue Index
  • Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute - CTFS, BDFFP

Art & Design Category includes Smithsonian-owned collections and general references information from the following Smithsonian units:

  • Archives of American Art
  • Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum
  • Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
  • National Museum of African Art
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • National Portrait Gallery, Catalog of American Portraits
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum, Art Inventories Catalog
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum, Photograph Archives
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum, Pre-1877 Art Exhibition Catalogue Index

Culture & History Category includes Smithsonian-owned collections from the following Smithsonian units:

  • Anacostia Community Museum
  • Anacostia Community Museum Archives
  • Archives of American Gardens
  • Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives - National Museum of African Art
  • Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
  • Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
  • Human Studies Film Archives, National Museum of Natural History
  • National Air & Space Museum Archives
  • National Anthropological Archives, National Museum of Natural History
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • National Museum of American History
  • National Museum of American History Archives
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • National Museum of the American Indian Archives
  • National Museum of the Natural History - Anthropology Department
  • National Postal Museum
  • Smithsonian Institution Archives
  • Smithsonian Institution Archives - History Division

Science & Technology Category includes Smithsonian-owned collections from the following Smithsonian Units:

  • National Air and Space Museum
  • National Air and Space Museum Archives
  • National Museum of Natural History - Botany Dept.
  • National Museum of Natural History - Entomology Dept.
  • National Museum of Natural History - Invertebrate Zoology
  • National Museum of Natural History - Paleobiology Dept.
  • National Museum of Natural History - Vertebrate Zoology - Birds Div.
  • National Museum of Natural History - Vertebrate Zoology - Mammals Div.
  • National Museum of Natural History - Vertebrate Zoology - Marine Mammals Div.
  • National Museum of Natural History - Vertebrate Zoology - Fishes Div.
  • National Museum of Natural History - Vertebrate Zoology - Herpetology Div.

Tagging

Tags are descriptive keywords or short phrases that you add to our records. Your tags will tell us about your thoughts on an object and make it easier to find online. If you like a tag already listed, click the thumbs up button to submit your vote. If you disagree with a tag, click the thumbs down. See Blog: I call it Pop, You call it Soda


How to tag

From your search results click the image.

Tagging


Enter your tags at the bottom of the full image display window.

Click the "Tag!" button to save your tag.

Tagging

My List

"My Lists" are a convenient way to collect records of interest. Create as many lists as you like. Email the list to yourself or others when you are done. The link inside the email will give you access to the list. Below are some pointers to get your started creating My Lists.

Begin by searching for some records you want to put on a list.


Click the "Add to My List" button on the search results screen.

Creating a list


Enter a name for your list in the popup window.


I entered "Frog Sculptures" in the text box.


Click the "Add to This List" button.

Creating a list


The "Success!" message is displayed and my list is created.


Add as many records to the list as you want.


At any time, you can email the list to yourself.


You can continue to add records to your list and there is no need to email the list again.


Email list


To view all the lists you are working on use the "My List" button.


This makes it easy to work on multiple lists at the same time.

Creating a list

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