three women present object salvage techniques on a stage

Who We Are

Cultural heritage is a treasured record of our human existence. Today, irreplaceable collections, cultural heritage sites, and cultural traditions face unprecedented hazards from armed conflict, earthquakes, superstorms, climate change, and other threats,

The Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative mission is to protect cultural heritage threatened or impacted by disasters and to help U.S. and international communities preserve their identities and history.

The Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative accomplishes its mission by:

  • Convening and collaborating with government agencies, international and professional organizations, and local communities to develop policies, strategies, programs, and best practices with regard to saving cultural heritage in crisis
  • Promoting awareness about cultural heritage crises to officials, thought leaders, professional colleagues, and the public
  • Training cultural heritage stewards, emergency managers, law enforcement, and the military on the protection of cultural heritage in light of natural disasters, major accidents, and human conflicts
  • Responding with an on-the-ground presence to particular cultural heritage crises
  • Conducting and supporting research to improve understanding of-and the response to-cultural crises

In all of these activities the Smithsonian follows best practices in humanitarian aid, creating a support system that enables local and national governments and organizations to manage and participate fully in their own cultural rescue and recovery efforts.

Learn more about the SCRI team

Global Partnerships & Collaborations

The Smithsonian works closely and cooperatively with local and regional communities, government agencies, and cultural professional organizations to save heritage in the most responsive, efficient, and effective ways.

Heritage Emergency National Task Force (HENTF)

The Heritage Emergency National Task Force (HENTF), co-sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Smithsonian Institution, is a partnership of 60 national service organizations and federal agencies.

Coordinating & Supporting Organizations

Collaboration and partnerships are key to our strategy for cultural heritage and disasters. The process of protecting cultural heritage is a worldwide effort, and the Smithsonian is only one of many organizations that have devoted resources to this exceptionally worthy cause. 

Smithsonian Partners

Smithsonian staff includes more than a thousand curators, conservators, collections managers, and technical specialists with wide-ranging expertise.


We acknowledge with gratitude the support we receive which ensures that the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative can continue to serve communities and their cultural stewards as they protect their heritage from the impact of disaster.