Smithsonian Privacy Statement for Philanthropic and Revenue Generating Activities

This Privacy Statement describes why and how the Smithsonian collects, stores, uses and shares personal data collected in connection with the Smithsonian Store and catalog, travel, publishing, or other commercial activities, as well as its fundraising activities. We collect such data in various ways, including data you provide to us, data we collect by automated means, and data we collect from other sources.

Why We Ask You for Personal Information

If you contact the Smithsonian for information about products or services, or to make a donation or purchase, you may be asked to provide information about yourself. We use your information for many purposes including to help us personalize and continually improve your experience on our Websites and digital properties. Examples of providing us with data may include:

  • If you place an order with us for yourself or as a gift
  • If someone ordered a gift from Smithsonian for you
  • If you join one of our membership programs, and/or receive our magazine(s)
  • If you participate in a survey, study, contest, or sweepstakes, or share articles
  • If you register with us, sign up for an email newsletter, or request a catalog or brochure
  • If you participate in fundraising activities

Information Collected and Stored Automatically

The Smithsonian uses online analytics tools such as Google Analytics, WebTrends, etc., to collect and track information about your visit so that the Smithsonian can monitor usage and make improvements. These tools may store your IP address from which you access our Website. The Smithsonian also collects anonymous data elements in aggregate form, that cannot be tied to an individual:

  • The name of the domain from which you access the Internet (for example,, if you are connecting from a Google Online account)
  • The type of device, browser, and operating system used to access our Website
  • The date and time you access our site
  • The length of your visit
  • Demographic data
  • The location from which you access our site (approximate country, state, city and postal code based on Google Analytics data)
  • The pages, files, documents, and links that you visit and engage with
  • The domain of the website which referred you to this website (the last website you visited before visiting this one)

Additionally, to better understand our customers and supporters, we may ask that you share additional information about you or your experience (such as, your city or state, age); your participation would be voluntary and, unless specifically stated otherwise in the request, the information you provide will not be connected with your personally identifiable information.

Social Media

When you access or interact with the Smithsonian through a social media service such as Facebook or Instagram, we may have visibility to your profile name and other information you have made public in connection with that particular social media service. The social media companies may collect and share anonymous aggregate metrics with us regarding use, such as the total number of clicks, shares, users’ demographics (e.g., age range, gender, location). These social media companies are not operated by the Smithsonian; use of their services is governed by the privacy policies of the social media companies.

How We Use and Disclose Personal Information

The Smithsonian may use and disclose information collected for various business and fundraising purposes, including:

  • To process, track, and manage products and/or services you request
  • To communicate with you about the content and/or services you may be interested in through content and advertisements on our Websites, mail, email, advertising networks, and social platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Google
  • To manage your account, deliver services you request, and to improve and enhance our services
  • To provide you with special offers, promotions and information from companies within our corporate family, and select third parties in accordance with applicable law;
  • To respond to your inquiries or comments
  • To contact you about changes to services
  • To allow social media sharing
  • To perform internal analysis in order to improve business practices
  • To protect the legal rights and obligations of the business and others
  • To help determine how parts of its websites are used in order to optimize site performance
  • To inform third parties about our users’ collective demographics or how they collectively use our Websites
  • To provide information about how many advertising impressions were delivered on a campaign

Please note that if you purchase a Smithsonian product or service, you may receive transactional communications. If you purchase from the Smithsonian Store, donate online, or purchase a membership, you may additionally receive emails about:

  • Smithsonian news and updates
  • New products
  • Special offers
  • Sales
  • Other promotions that may be of interest to you

The Smithsonian uses outside vendors to provide certain services, such as companies that process credit card transactions for the Smithsonian. These third-party vendors will have access to the information needed to perform their functions but may not use your information for any other purpose. Examples include:

  • E-mail acquisition and distribution
  • Order fulfillment and shipping
  • Ticket fulfillment
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Travel tourism
  • Printing
  • Data Storage and selection
  • Payment processing
  • Fraud prevention

The Smithsonian may collect personal data about you from unaffiliated sources with whom we contract, such as product and service providers and data aggregators, as well as from public sources or databases. We may obtain data such as your name, postal address, telephone number, demographic data (such as age, gender, income level, and purchasing profiles). We generally use such data to identify potential customers or subscribers, or to update personal data we already have about existing customers or subscribers (such as an address update), or to enhance our data models.

The Smithsonian may occasionally share, exchange, or rent information which may include your name, address, email address, demographic data (such as age, gender, income level, and purchasing profiles) and purchasing behavior with carefully selected third-party organizations including our outside vendors, marketers of products and services potentially of interest to you, and cooperative database services in the publishing, catalog, and fund- raising industries. We use cooperative databases primarily to identify potential subscribers and customers.

Please note that the Smithsonian also may provide your information to: (1) a Federal, State, or local law enforcement agency if the Smithsonian becomes aware of a violation or potential violation of law or regulation; (2) a court or party in a court or Federal administrative proceeding if the Smithsonian is a party or in order to comply with a subpoena; (3) the Department of Justice or in certain legal proceedings when the Smithsonian, an employee of the Smithsonian, or the United States is a party to litigation or has an interest in the litigation and the use of such records is deemed relevant and necessary to the litigation; (4) Smithsonian officials, including the Inspector General, as needed to perform official duties; (5) a Committee of Congress in response to a formal request; (6) protect the security or integrity of the Smithsonian Websites and services; and (7) any other person or entity as required by law.

Opt-Out and User Control

Customers may opt out of regular mailings and rental/exchange of files through contacting customer service for the relevant service. For each Smithsonian service, customer service contact options may include phone, web, and email. Check the website of the relevant service for contact information.

Customers can change their email communication preferences by using the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email or contacting customer service for the relevant service.

You may also access, update, review, correct, suppress, or remove any of the personal information you have given to us by emailing

Data Retention

We will retain your information for the period necessary to fulfill the purposes outlined in this Privacy Statement unless a longer retention period is required or allowed by law.

Remember that even after you cancel your account, or if you ask us to delete your personal information, copies of some information from your account may remain viewable in some circumstances where, for example, you have shared information with social media or other services. Because of the nature of caching technology, your account may not be instantly inaccessible to others. We may also retain backup information related to your account on our servers for some time after cancellation or your request for deletion, for fraud detection or to comply with applicable law or our internal security or recordkeeping policies. It may not always be possible to completely remove or delete all of your information due to technical constraints or, contractual, financial or legal requirements.


Review our Smithsonian Philanthropic and Revenue Generating Activities Cookie, Web Beacons, and Pixels Policy.

Children and Privacy

The Smithsonian’s Websites are intended to be accessible and enjoyed by general audiences. We do not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 13, without first providing the parent or legal guardian with notice and obtaining prior verifiable consent. If a visitor known to be a child sends an email to the Smithsonian, we will only use it to respond to the writer and not to create profiles or otherwise retain the information. Where a Smithsonian Website is specifically directed toward children under the age of 13, the terms of the Smithsonian’s Kids Online Privacy (“SKOP”) Statement will apply and the Website will include a link to the SKOP. If a parent or guardian believes their child’s personally identifiable information was inadvertently collected, please contact


The Smithsonian takes reasonable steps to design and manage our Websites’ technology to ensure that its information technology systems, applications, and information technology infrastructure are secure. When you use your credit card for any purchase or donation on a Smithsonian Website, that transaction is encrypted using “Transport Layer Security (TLS)” encryption to protect your credit card information when traveling over the Internet. Further, we require credit card processing be secured based on compliance with Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards.


Within the Smithsonian’s Websites are advertisements, widgets, and other content links to non-Smithsonian websites. These sites operate independently of the Smithsonian and have their own privacy policies. The Smithsonian is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of non-Smithsonian websites, and such link is not intended to be an endorsement of the non-Smithsonian website or its content. For your protection, you should review the privacy policy of the site you linked to from our Website.

Contact Us

Questions and comments about this Privacy Statement may be directed to us via mail at Smithsonian Privacy Office, 1000 Jefferson Drive, SW, Room 308, Washington, DC 20013 or email at The Smithsonian Institution is a large organization with many people sharing responsibility for the content of its Websites. Please help us respond to your comments and inquiries by sending them to the appropriate Smithsonian office. In order to help you contact the appropriate Smithsonian office, please consult our list of contacts at

Last revised: January 10, 2020

California Residents

This PRIVACY NOTICE FOR CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS supplements the information contained in the Privacy Policy of Putney Student Travel (“PST”) and applies solely to visitors, users, and others who reside in the State of California (“consumers” or “you”) when you visit the Smithsonian Student Travel (“SST”) website or subscribe to receive SST services (collectively, our “Services”). We adopt this notice to comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (“CCPA”) and other California privacy laws.  Any terms defined in the CCPA have the same meaning when used in this notice.

Information We Collect

We collect information that identifies, relates to, describes, references, is capable of being associated with, or could reasonably be linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular consumer or device (“personal information”). In particular, we have collected the following categories of personal information from consumers within the last twelve (12) months:

  • Category A – Identifiers
    Examples: Name, postal address, Internet Protocol address, email address, Social Security number, driver’s license number, passport number, or other similar identifiers.
  • Category B – Personal information categories listed in the California Customer Records statute (Cal. Civ. Code § 1798.80(e))
    Examples: Name, signature, Social Security number, address, telephone number, fax number, passport number, driver’s license or state identification card number, insurance policy number, education, employment, bank account number, credit card number, debit card number, or any other financial information, physical illness, mental illness or disabilities.
  • Category F – Internet or other similar network activity
    Examples: Access history and information on your interaction with our application.
  • Category I – Professional or employment-related information
    Examples: Occupation, employer information.
  • Category J – Non-public education information (per the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. Section 1232g, 34 C.F.R. Part 99))
    Examples: Education level, school attended.

We obtain the categories of personal information listed above from the following categories of sources:

  • Directly from you. For example, through information we ask from you when our clients or their agents subscribe and engage our Services.
  • Directly and indirectly from you when using our Services or visiting our website. For example, usage details collected automatically in the course of your interaction with our platform or website. 

Use of Personal Information

We may use or disclose the personal information we collect for one or more of the following business purposes:

  • To provide you with email alerts and other notices concerning our Services, or updates to your application process.
  • To improve our Services to you.
  • For testing, research, analysis and product development.
  • As necessary or appropriate to protect the rights, property or safety of us, our clients or others.
  • To respond to law enforcement requests and as required by applicable law, court order, or governmental regulations.
  • As described to you when collecting your personal information or as otherwise set forth in the CCPA.

We will not collect additional categories of personal information or use the personal information we collected for materially different, unrelated, or incompatible purposes without providing you notice.


Sharing Personal Information

We may disclose your personal information to a third party for a business purpose. When we disclose personal information for a business purpose, we enter a contract that describes the purpose and requires the recipient to both keep that personal information confidential and not use it for any purpose except performing the contract.

In the preceding twelve (12) months, we have disclosed the following categories of personal information for a business purpose:

  • Category A: Identifiers.
  • Category B: California Customer Records personal information categories.
  • Category F: Internet or other similar network activity
  • Category J: Non-public education information.

We disclose your personal information for a business purpose to the following categories of third parties:

  • Service providers.

In the preceding twelve (12) months, we have not sold any personal information.


Your Rights and Choices

The CCPA provides consumers (California residents) with specific rights regarding their personal information. This section describes your CCPA rights and explains how to exercise those rights.


Access to Specific Information and Data Portability Rights

You have the right to request that we disclose certain information to you about our collection and use of your personal information over the past twelve (12) months. Once we receive and confirm your verifiable consumer request, we will disclose to you:

  • The categories of personal information we collected about you.
  • Our business or commercial purpose for collecting that personal information.
  • The categories of third parties with whom we share that personal information.
  • The specific pieces of personal information we collected about you (also called a data portability request).


Deletion Request Rights

You have the right to request that we delete any of your personal information we collected from you and retained, subject to certain exceptions. Once we receive and confirm your verifiable consumer request, we will delete (and direct our service providers to delete) your personal information from our records, unless an exception applies.

We may deny your deletion request if retaining the information is necessary for us or our service providers to:

  1. Complete the transaction for which we collected the personal information, provide a good or service that you requested, take actions reasonably anticipated within the context of our ongoing business relationship with you, or otherwise perform our contract with you.
  2. Detect security incidents, protect against malicious, deceptive, fraudulent, or illegal activity, or prosecute those responsible for such activities.
  3. Debug products to identify and repair errors that impair existing intended functionality.
  4. Exercise free speech, ensure the right of another consumer to exercise their free speech rights, or exercise another right provided for by law.
  5. Comply with the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (Cal. Penal Code § 1546 seq.).
  6. Enable solely internal uses that are reasonably aligned with consumer expectations based on your relationship with us.
  7. Comply with a legal obligation.
  8. Make other internal and lawful uses of that information that are compatible with the context in which you provided it.


Exercising Access, Data Portability, and Deletion Rights

To exercise the access, data portability, and deletion rights described above, please submit a verifiable consumer request to us by email at

Only you or a person registered with the California Secretary of State that you authorize to act on your behalf, may make a verifiable consumer request related to your personal information. You may also make a verifiable consumer request on behalf of your minor child.

You may only make a verifiable consumer request for access or data portability twice within a twelve (12) month period. The verifiable consumer request must:

  • Provide sufficient information that allows us to reasonably verify you are the person about whom we collected personal information or an authorized representative.
  • Describe your request with sufficient detail that allows us to properly understand, evaluate, and respond to it.

We cannot respond to your request or provide you with personal information if we cannot verify your identity or authority to make the request and confirm the personal information relates to you.  Making a verifiable consumer request does not require you to create an account with us. We will only use personal information provided in a verifiable consumer request to verify the requestor’s identity or authority to make the request.


Response Timing and Format

We endeavor to respond to a verifiable consumer request within fifteen (15) days of its receipt.  If we require more time (up to 45 days), we will inform you of the reason and extension period in writing.  If you have an account with us, we will deliver our written response to the registered email associated with the account.  If you do not have an account with us, we will deliver our written response by mail or electronically, at your option. Any disclosures we provide will only cover the twelve (12) month period preceding the verifiable consumer request’s receipt.  The response we provide will also explain the reasons we cannot comply with a request, if applicable. For data portability requests, we will select a format to provide your personal information that is readily usable and should allow you to transmit the information from one entity to another entity without hindrance.

We do not charge a fee to process or respond to your verifiable consumer request unless it is excessive, repetitive, or manifestly unfounded.  If we determine that the request warrants a fee, we will tell you why we made that decision and provide you with a cost estimate before completing your request.



We will not discriminate against you for exercising any of your CCPA rights. Unless permitted by the CCPA, we will not:

  • Deny you use of our Services.
  • Provide you a different level or quality of Services.


Changes to Our Privacy Notice

We reserve the right to amend this Privacy Notice at our discretion and at any time. The date this Privacy Notice was last updated is identified at the bottom of this page. You are responsible for periodically visiting the Smithsonian Student Travel website and this Privacy Notice to check for any changes.

Contact Information

If you have any questions or comments about this Privacy Notice, our Privacy Policy, the ways in which we collect and use your personal information, your choices and rights regarding such use, or wish to exercise your rights under California law, you may contact us via email at

The CCPA portion of this Privacy Policy was last updated 11/30/2020