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The Smithsonian Women’s Committee produces prestigious craft shows showcasing highly talented artists who are juried in by recognized curators and other experts in the field. Our shows feature artists in a variety of media — basketry, jewelry, textiles, ceramics, glass, wood, wearable art and more. We grant net proceeds from our shows to projects at the Smithsonian for education, science, conservation, archives and museum exhibits.

Here we spotlight grants that we have funded that are still making a difference today:

Saving Endangered Corals

Coral reefs around the world are threatened by pollution, sedimentation and global warming. Many are dying, and their ability to reproduce is compromised. The Smithsonian is helping to conserve, enhance and restore these reefs to prevent the first global extinction in history of a worldwide ecosystem — coral reefs.

In 2016 and 2019, the Smithsonian Women’s Committee granted $51,796 to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute to purchase liquid nitrogen containers and a liquid nitrogen maker to collect and freeze coral sperm to preserve it, transport it, thaw it, and introduce it to fresh eggs when the time is right.

Under red light, scientists collect coral egg bundles floating up from coral fragments in the pots.
Under red light, scientists collect coral egg bundles floating up from coral fragments in the pots.
Colorful, healthy coral reef
Colorful, healthy coral reef

Healthy corals may get their stunning green, brown and red colors from algae that at the same time feed the coral and are protected by them. The algae use sunlight to produce sugars — the corals’ food.

Dying, bleached coral

Coral reefs host 25% of all life in the ocean. Healthy reefs will degrade and eventually disappear without conservation. If water temperature rises just 2 degrees Celsius over weeks, the corals can bleach. The warm water may cause the corals to expel the algae that feed them, causing the corals to lose their color. Their bone-white skeleton is visible.

The liquid nitrogen containers and makers we funded are used to form a biorepository that is the backbone of the reef conservation operation at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. The tissue samples stored there may one day be thawed and used to help reseed corals into the oceans.

Please Donate Now to help the Smithsonian Women’s Committee to support other meaningful grants like these!