Guidelines for Production Companies Working with
Archival Units at the Smithsonian Institution

Getting Started

  1. An initial consultation with archives’ staff early in your project is essential. Refer to the Guide to Smithsonian Institution Archives, Libraries and Special Collections for collection descriptions and basic contact information Please note that these guidelines do NOT apply to producers working for, or under contract with, Smithsonian Networks LLC. Smithsonian Networks production companies should refer to "Guidelines for Smithsonian Networks Production Companies Working with Archival Units at the Smithsonian Institution."
  2. Many still images are available online through the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System The Cross Catalog Searching Center is a good starting point where you can search for images only or see all listings for collections that include other documents and media.
  3. After you have conducted preliminary research, contact the staff at the archival unit or special collection where the materials are located and make an appointment with the appropriate archivist(s) before requesting materials for your production. Each archives operates independently within the Institution and, therefore, practices and procedures will vary from archives to archives.

Initial Consultation

Set up an initial consultation with the archives you think may have appropriate assets for your project. That way, staff will have time to prepare for your visit and have materials available for you to see. For your initial consultation with archives’ staff, please provide or be prepared to discuss the following:

  1. The timeline for your production: When is the rough cut due? When is the fine cut due?
  2. What is the focus of your project and how you think the archives can help?
  3. Who is the primary contact who will be managing the production?
  4. General requests for assistance will be attended to in the order they arrive. Staff is limited so production companies should allow as much as 10 working days for a response to a given request.

Access to materials

Costs and Rights Clearance

Contacts at Archival Units and Special Collections

Archives Center, National Museum of American History – Wendy Shay [see also FAQ]; or Kay Peterson

Archives of American Art - Megan McShae

Archives of American Gardens

Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art – Amy Staples or

Freer Gallery of Art & Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives,

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Archives

National Museum of the American Indian

National Air and Space Museum Archives

National Anthropological Archives (NAA) & Human Studies Film Archives (HSFA)

Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heriatge -

Smithsonian American Art Museum Slide and Photo Archives -

Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Smithsonian Institution Archives – Ellen Alers

More Smithsonian Contacts for Commercial Licensing of Images

Anacostia Neighborhood Museum : Jennifer Morris

Archives Center : Wendy Shay

Archives of American Art: Wendy Hurlock Baker

Archives of American Gardens:

Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum : Jill Bloomer

Freer & Sackler Galleries of Art: Cory Grace

Hirshhorn Museum : Amy Densford

National Air and Space Museum Archives: Kate Igoe (still image)

National Air and Space Museum Archives: Mark Taylor (moving image)

National Museum of African Art:

National Museum of American History: Michael Annan

National Museum of the American Indian: Lou Stancari

National Museum of Natural History:

Paleobiology: Raymond Rye

North American Mammals: Don Wilson

Global Volcanism Program: Stacia Largen

Botany: Rusty Russell

National Anthropological Archives/Human Studies Film Archives: Daisy Njoku

Handbook of American Indians: Joanna Scherer

Collections Manager: Carol Butler / Sally Shelton

Human Origins Program: Richard Potts

Geology, Gems, and Minerals: Jeff Post

Anthropology: Felicia Pickering

National Portrait Gallery: Lizanne Garrett

National Postal Museum : Jim O’Donnell

National Zoological Park : Sarah Taylor / John Gibbons

Smithsonian American Art Museum : Leslie Green / Richard Sorensen

Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies: Darren Milligan / Steve Binns

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center : Kimbra Cutlip

Smithsonian Institution Archives: Ellen Alers

Smithsonian Institution Books: Kate Antony

Smithsonian Institution Folkways: Margot Nassau

Smithsonian Institution Magazine: Andrea Georgiou

Smithsonian Institution Website: Dennis Hasch

Smithsonian Institution Libraries: Erin Rushing

SISP and Contributor’s Series: Debbie Stultz

Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service: Frederica Adelman

Smithsonian Photographic Services:


Revised December 12, 2008