Skip to Content


Discover the Smithsonian’s Resources and Collections

The Learning Lab brings the richness of the Smithsonian's resources directly to you to inspire and facilitate unforgettable learning experiences.

The Learning Lab enables researchers, enthusiasts, artists, teachers and learners of all ages to explore their interests and excite their curiosity from more than a million of the Smithsonian's digital assets. These resources include images, videos, audio recordings, texts, webpages, and more than 2,000 learning materials, such as lesson plans, instructional activities, and games. Some of the resources began as digital files, such as a video interview with Smithsonian researchers, and others are digital representations of physical museum objects, artworks, books, journals, documents, specimens, and other artifacts.

The thrill of discovery never ends in the Learning Lab as users continue to create new collections for others to find, and as our staff works daily to digitize more of the Smithsonian's assets.

Discovery in the Learning Lab is intuitive, fun, and easy even if you're a digital novice. As you begin exploring the Learning Lab, keep in mind this handy tip for easy navigation: "look to the sun." Clicking on the sunburst logo opens a pop-up window where you can quickly access Home and Help pages, as well as the "My Learning Lab" section with links to your profile, dashboard, resources, and more.

1. How to Search

To begin discovering in the Learning Lab, simply enter a topic that interests you in the search bar at the top left of any page. Keyword search criteria can range from a broad topic to a specific resource name. If the first set of search results do not produce what you are looking for, try searching again using related topics or similar terms.

Search results are displayed in an image grid by default, but can be changed to a list view.

2. Resources vs. Collections

The Learning Lab is comprised of "Resources" and "Learning Lab Collections," indicated by the tabs at the top of your search results with the number of items found. Resources are individual digital assets. Some resources contain multiple views of a single object (e.g., a sculpture may be shown from the top, bottom, and sides). When you click on a resource to open it, a numbered series will be displayed in the lower right that allows you to click through them. A curated group of resources in the platform, whether created by Smithsonian experts and staff or Learning Lab users, is a "Learning Lab Collection." Your search results may yield both resources and collections or resources only.

Throughout the Learning Lab, icons note the type of resource and whether it is part of a collection. These icons will appear when viewing resources and collections in your search results.


Image: Includes artworks, photographs, sculptures, and makes up most of the resources you will find in the Learning Lab.


Video/Audio: Includes video and audio recordings, music, podcasts, and more.


Text: Includes books, catalogues, magazines, articles and more.


Learning Resource: Includes downloadable lesson plans, online exhibition websites, real world research databases, games, interactives, and more.



Collection: Includes Smithsonian-created and user-created aggregations of the Resource types above, often structured, annotated, and layered with instructional strategies.

3. How to Filter Resources

After your search results are returned, you can refine your list. To narrow down your list of resources found, click the resources tab so that it is underlined in black and click Refine Search. You can refine your results based on resource type (i.e., image, video), resources currently on display, and resource provider by checking the relevant boxes and clicking Update Search.

4. How to Filter Collections

To narrow down your list of collections found, click the Collections tab so that it is underlined in black and click Refine Search. Learning Lab Collections can be refined by subject area, age range and educational features (e.g., its classroom use). Check the appropriate boxes and click Update Search.

5. View a Resource

In your search results, hover over an individual resource to gather information about it (e.g., resource provider) as well as to interact with it (e.g., share). Click on a resource to open it for a closer view and more interactive options. When viewing resources, several icons indicate the various tools that enable you to favorite, share, download, and add resources to your personal collections, and more.


Info: Get a description, source, and other information about a resource.


Collect: Add a resource to an existing or new personal collection. See more information in the Create section.


Favorite: Save the resource to your "favorite" list for later reference.


Share: Share a resource with your colleagues, friends and other users. To learn more, go to the Share section.


Download: Download images to your desktop or mobile device (coming soon).


Flag: Let us know that something is right or wrong by flagging it as awesome, inappropriate, or broken.


Zoom: Zoom in to see resources in greater detail.

6. View a Collection

In your search results, hover over a Learning Lab Collection to gather information about it (e.g., author) as well as to interact with it (e.g., share). Collections authored by a Smithsonian staff member will show the blue and yellow Smithsonian sunburst logo. Collections authorized by a user of the Learning Lab will show that user's avatar. Click on a collection to open and view all the resources in it, see the description, and access more interactive options. When viewing a collection, several icons indicate the various tools that enable you to copy, favorite, and share it.


Author: See the creator of the collection. Click on their name to learn more about them and see other collections they have authored.


Copy Collection: Make a copy of the collection to use as is or customize it to your needs.


Favorite: "Favorite" a collection to save it for later use.


Share: Share a collection with colleagues, friends, and other learners. To learn more, go to the Share section.


Flag: Flag a collection as awesome, inappropriate, or broken.


Info: Get a description and other information about a collection.


Collection Navigation: Easily go back to your collection when viewing a resource in Edit mode (rather than using the browser back button).

7. View a User Profile and Favorite a User

When you find a collection you like and are interested in more from that author, click on the author's name to see their public profile and collections. Click the Heart icon in the upper right hand side of the profile to save the author to your favorite list. You will receive a notification on your dashboard when this user adds new collections.

Learn more about creating your first collection here…