In this enlightening talk, Salazar-Porzio, a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, delves into the strategies employed by staff at one of the world’s most renowned cultural institutions to navigate uncertain times. Drawing from real-life case studies at the Smithsonian, this presentation explores how museums and cultural organizations must adapt in a rapidly changing world. From the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to shifting societal expectations, curators’ contemporary collecting offers valuable insights into sustaining public engagement and relevance. Attendees will gain a deeper understanding of the tension between the federal context and creative approaches to sustaining a mission of education, inspiration, and preservation. This talk is essential for cultural professionals, museum administrators, and anyone interested in the intersection of culture, education, and adaptability in a world marked by uncertainty.