Christmas has come early for the Smithsonian Institute, in the form of an extra $14.5 million grant from the government This increase in the federal appropriation for the Institute will bring the government’s total contribution to $819.5 million for the current fiscal year, which began October 1.
Comprising 19 museums, nine research facilities, and a zoo, the Smithsonian will put most of its budget, over $675 million, toward salaries, which saw a one percent increase this year, and other institutional expenses. This marks an increase of $38 million over last year’s $647 million in general expenses and salary funds.
As part of the spending bill passed by Congress in December 2014 (well at least they DID SOMETHING), the Smithsonian appropriation also allots $24 million to complete construction on the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. Expected to open in 2016, the museum also receives $6.5 million toward its collection, programming, and staff expenses. In addition, the Institute will continue its digitization initiative. Come January 1, the Asian art collections of the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery will become the first of the Smithsonian’s museums to put their entire collections online.
A further $1 million will be put toward expanding the project to other museums under the new budget. Although the spending allocations for this year don’t seem to account for much of the $2 billion master plan to renovate the Smithsonian’s South Mall campus they do include $120 million to be spent on various facilities: $23 million for the Museum of Natural History, $15.8 million for the National Zoo, $7.5 million for the Renwick Gallery, and $6 million for the Sackler Gallery and the Freer. Presumably, the government is not yet putting its money toward the Smithsonian’s proposed London outpost.