Understanding the American Experience

The Smithsonian embodies advancement and synthesis of knowledge that contributes to understanding the American Experience—its history and culture, arts and sciences.

The Consortia fosters a pan-institutional, interdisciplinary approach to: 

  • Interpret the American Experience through its unique museums, research centers, public programs, national collections and archives.
  • Develop innovative approaches for documenting the accomplishments and creativity of the American people.
  • Generate greater awareness of American life and national identity, cultural expression, the environment and changing landscape, and achievements in science and technology.

Michelle Anne Delaney, Director

Michelle Anne Delaney, Director

Ms. Delaney has a special interest in American visual culture, especially as expressed through the photographic arts. In addition to American visual culture, her research interests include early Daguerreian-era photography, the history of art photography, Eadweard Muybridge’s locomotion studies, contemporary photojournalism and Washington, D.C., photography.

Her most recent exhibition project is a companion to her first book, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Warriors: A Photographic History by Gertrude Käsebier, jointly sponsored by the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, and the National Museum of American History. She also chaired the editorial committee and wrote the introduction for the book, Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collection.

Michelle Anne Delaney serves as Senior Program Officer in the Office of the Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture. She works with senior leadership, museum directors and staff to develop and implement the Smithsonian's strategic plans, national campaign, educational, web and digital strategy, and revenue and business policies. She is currently a History PhD. candidate at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

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Grand Challenge Awards

  • African Cosmos: Stellar Art. An Interdisciplinary Educational Initiative (2010)
  • After the Return: Digital Repatriation and the Revitalization and Circulation of Indigenous Knowledge (2011)
  • The Age of Plastics (2010)
  • Americans All: The Immigration/Migration Initiative (2011)
  • The American Century of Astronomy and Astrophysics (2010)
  • Americans in the Great War, Before the AEF—and After: Volunteers at Home and Abroad (2013)
  • Becoming US: Our American Journey and the MySI Story Collection Tool (2014)
  • Being and Belonging: Exploring 21st Century Complexities of Representing the African Diaspora (2013)
  • Changing Landscapes: Archaeological, Biological, and Pedological Research into the Chesapeake Estuary (2014)
  • Chocolate: Innovations in Agriculture, Culture, and Society (2013)
  • Civil War's 150th Anniversary (2011)
  • The Civil War's 150th Anniversary (2011)
  • Civil War’s 150th Anniversary (2012)
  • Civil War’s 150th Anniversary (2013)
  • Collections in Context: Asian American Art, Archives, and Artifacts at the Smithsonian Institution (2012)
  • Creating a Prototype Digital Hub for SI Music: Building the Digital Resource (2014)
  • Creating a Prototype Digital Hub for SI Music: Curating the Content (2014)
  • Creating a Roadmap for Music at the Smithsonian (2012)
  • Culture and Health: A Workshop in New Methodologies (2012)
  • Design Across the Smithsonian (2010)
  • Dominican Stories: The Dominican Presence in the United States (2012)
  • Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor (2010)
  • Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor (2011)
  • Enabling Specimen-Based Study with Innovative Technologies (2013)
  • Exiles in America: Memory and the Lived Experiences of Cuban Pedro Pans and Balseros (2013)
  • Fixing Connections: the Art & Science of Repair (2012)
  • The Future is Here Festival and NMAH/NASM Collections/Research Initiative (2014)
  • The Immigration Initiative: Exploring and Presenting America's Cultural History of Migration and Immigration (2010)
  • IndigenousGEO: Long-term monitoring of Cultural and Biological Diversity on Tribal Lands (2011)
  • Living in the Anthropocene (2013)
  • Many Voices One Nation: Site-Visit Research and Collection Project (2014)
  • Moving Culture: Traditional Arts in Migration and Displacement (2014)
  • A National Symposium on Early Learning (2011)
  • Our American Journey and American Anthropological Association Collaborative Workshop (2013)
  • Planning our Future Together: An Audience Research Project for Smithsonian Music (2013)
  • The Preservation of Time-Based and Digital Art at the Smithsonian (2010)
  • Preservation of Time-Based Media Art at the Smithsonian (2011)
  • Race: A Pan-Institutional Collaboration (2010)
  • Reclaiming the Edge: The Anacostia River, Urban Waterways, and Civic Engagement (2010)
  • Recovering Voices (2010)
  • Recovering Voices Strategic Planning (2012)
  • Religion in the Early Republic (2014)
  • The Roosevelt Resurvey: Leveraging the Contributions of the Smithsonian and President Teddy Roosevelt for Wildlife Conservation Insight in Africa (2012)
  • Settlers, Pioneers, and Immigrants: Teaching Migration History in the 21st Century (2014)
  • The Smithsonian Asian-Latino Project (2011)
  • Taking Stock: Oral History at the Smithsonian Institution (2011)
  • Urban Waterways (2011)
  • Unseen Connections in the Ecologies of Cell Phones (2012)
  • Our Voices on Air: Reaching New Audiences Through Indigenous Radio  (2011)
  • The Will to Adorn: African American Dress and the Aesthetics of Identity (2011)
  • William Tecumseh Sherman: New Perspectives from Smithsonian Collections (2013)