A History of the Partnership

Anton Muscatelli and Michael Barnes signing ceremony for Smithsonian Institute Strategic Partnership.

The University and the Smithsonian Institution have deep historical links. James Smithson visited the University of Glasgow as a young man in the late 18th century, where he met the Natural Philosopher John Anderson, an early promoter of the education of women and working men. This informed Smithson’s idea to bequeath funds to establish a cultural institution in the United States dedicated to the “increase and diffusion of knowledge”. For the last 30 years there has been strengthening collaboration between the two institutions, involving staff exchanges, student internships, research projects, and a successful series of summer schools focusing on historic collections in Scotland, taught by leading academics.

Today the bond between the Smithsonian and the University of Glasgow has become even stronger with numerous projects in arts, anthropology, archaeology, education, life sciences, and astronomy. Research events were held in Washington (2015) and Glasgow (2016) to promote new collaborations across disciplines. This culminated first in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in April 2016, followed by our full Partnership agreement on the 6th June 2018. Both acknowledge existing collaborations between the University and the Smithsonian and signal a shared goal to develop further opportunities for academic and educational partnership.