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The Museum Conservation Institute - Technical Studies


Analytical and technical support is provided to all Smithsonian programs, to conservation and curation programs in other Smithsonian bureaus to assist with the care and understanding of their collections, and, on occasion, to other museums and government agencies. In coordination with the MCI research, conservation and outreach programs, larger collaborative projects with other Smithsonian bureaus are undertaken.

All general-use scientific instrumentation and computer equipment at MCI is maintained, updated, and replaced under the banner of Technical Studies. The staff operate and maintain a large number of analytical instruments and perform or assist with analytical chemistry techniques to support MCI research, conservation and outreach programs and to provide assistance to other Smithsonian bureaus and, occasionally, other museums and government agencies. Instrumental support offerings include Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), laser ablation ICP-MS, optical microscopy with image analysis (OM-IA), scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectroscopy and wavelength dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS-WDS), 3D scanning, ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometry (UV-VIS), xero-radiography, x-ray diffraction (XRD), x-ray fluorescence (XRF), and x-ray radiography.

Within MCI, analytical support is provided for conservators, scientists, fellows, interns, and visiting scholars. Staff also contribute to many Smithsonian projects outside MCI, primarily to assist the conservation efforts of staff conservators and curators. Museums that MCI has worked with recently include the Freer Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of African Art, the National Museum of American Art, the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Museum of Natural History, and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of Art. MCI also assists other government agencies as needed, and on occasion, other museums, universities, and research institutions. Such organizations often lack the analytical facilities and staff expertise to perform certain examinations and analyses. Recently, assistance has been provided to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, George Washington University, the McCrone Research Institute, the United States Army, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.