We help others learn about their historical objects and how to take care of them

 

New Insights into the Cleaning of Paintings cover

Smithsonian Contributions to Museum Conservation Number 3 Premiers
Papers and posters presented at the “Cleaning 2010 International—New Insights into the Cleaning of Paintings” conference held at the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia in Spain, in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute are printed. It was the first major international conference on this topic in two decades. Now available as a PDF at the Smithsonian Research Online website.

Robert J. KoestlerMCI Meets Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Challenge Grant

Establishes Endowed Directorship

The Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute is pleased to announce that it has completed a $1.75 million challenge grant awarded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in December 2009.  With the required $3.25 million in private gifts in hand, the research center can now establish a $5 million endowment for the MCI directorship—a position currently held by Robert Koestler. more...

Daguerreotype Digitization

Updated Methods for the Digitization of Daguerreotypes
Watch the video presentation created for the 2012 Daguerreian Society Symposium in Baltimore, MD. more...

 

Early Art in the Americas Earliest Art in the Americas
MCI Imaging specialists have been using a number of imaging techniques to document and help understand the nature of cultural heritage materials. more...

 

MCI Imaging TeamUnderstanding Early Photography
This website introduces a project at MCI. Our goal is to characterize surface properties and composition using non-destructive scientific techniques, more...

 

 

Micro Fading TesterEffects of Light Levels on Collections Preservation
The long term preservation of the collections of any cultural institution relies heavily on the control of storage and exhibit environments. The effects of light levels on the preservation of collections have had the least attention. more...

SOLEIL logo and site imageThe Smithsonian and the SOLEIL Synchrotron Partner to Analyze Antiquities, Cultural Heritage and Palaeontological Materials
The Smithsonian Institution and the Synchrotron SOLEIL of France announced today a new partnership between the organizations to use the power of the third generation synchrotron to study and preserve priceless collections in the world’s largest museum. more...

 

Biocolonization of Stone coverSmithsonian Contributions to Museum Conservation Number 2 Premiers
The official publication of the Smithsonian Contributions to Museum Conservation, no. 2: Biocolonization of Stone: Control and Preventive Methods: Proceedings from the MCI Workshop Series is now available as a downloadable PDF at the Smithsonian Research Online website.

 

Pesticide Mitigation in Museum Collections: Science in Conservation PublicationSmithsonian Contributions to Museum Conservation Number 1 Premiers
The official publication of the Smithsonian Contributions to Museum Conservation, no. 1: Pesticide Mitigation in Museum Collections: Science in Conservation: Proceedings from the MCI Workshop Series is now available as a downloadable PDF at the Smithsonian Research Online website.

Modern MaterialsDeterioration of Modern Materials
Modern materials, especially synthetic polymers and plastics, had a significant influence on industrial, domestic and cultural life through the 19th and 20th centuries. The Smithsonian's museums and collections are repositories for many different forms of modern materials, from more...

Venaria WorkshopCulmination of 20 years of green, energy savings research
Research at MCI over the past 20 years by Dr. Marion Mecklenburg and his international team of collaborators has shown that most cultural heritage materials are much more resistant to temperature and humidity changes than generally thought. more...


Modular Cleaning Program WorkshopHealthy Environments, Healthy Practices, Healthy Collections
MCI’s umbrella theme “Healthy Environments, Healthy Practices, Healthy Collections,” includes a focus on conservation protocols, procedures and products that are as safe as possible for the staff, the collections and the global environment.  more...

Fragile Paper Squeeze ImpressionsAdapting Spectroscopic Imaging
One area of special interest for the Smithsonian’s MCI is adapting full spectroscopic imaging at multiple length scales from what can be seen with the naked eye down to nanoparticles for the study of cultural and heritage objects as well as research specimens from the National collections. more...

Paricutin, Mexico eruptionTechnology, Provenance and Conservation of Archaeological and Historical Materials
Research at MCI over the past 30 years has established the Smithsonian’s MCI as one of the leading centers in the world for studies related to the technology, provenance, and conservation of archaeological and historical materials. more...

 

IRMSNew Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry Laboratory provides critical data to identify US Airways bird strike as migratory Canada Geese
The Smithsonian's Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) scientists, working with researchers at the Natural Zoological Park (NZP), the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Transportation Safety Board, analyzed elemental isotopes from frather remains from the January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 bird strike. more...

Mongolian Deer StoneThe science of conserving ancient Mongolian monoliths
Deer Stones, Mongolia's mysterious ancient monuments, are the country's most important archaeological treasures and some of the most spectacular expression of Bronze Age megalithic art anywhere in the world. These 3,000-year-old carved stone monoliths standing 1 to 4 meters high are scattered throughout northern Mongolia. more...

Lascaux cavePreserving and conserving our cultural heritage against biological attack
Conservation and preservation of our cultural heritage requires an understanding of the complex chemical, physical, and biological threats to its integrity. Recently, MCI's Director Robert J. Koestler chaired a panel "Microorganisms in subterranean environments" more...

Light in Museum CollectionsFlooded with light - studying the effects of light on museum collections
Light has the potential to cause damage to objects in museum collections. The Smithsonian's Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) Senior Research Scientist Marion Mecklenburg has worked with more...

ObsidianInvestigating how and when some of the first humans entered North America
For decades scientists have hypothesized that the first inhabitants to enter the New World arrived some 12-15,000 years ago via the Bering Land Bridge. more...

US House of Representatives MaceConserving our nation's treasures
Continuing a long standing practice of more than four decades, in October 2006, staff of the Smithsonian's Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) examined, analyzed, and conserved the Mace of The United States House of Representatives. The work was completed on an extremely tight schedule during more...

Rosa Parks' dressMCI repairs and conserves Rosa Parks' dress
On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Ms. Rosa Parks was riding a public bus and thinking about finishing a new dress. Ms. Parks, a professional seamstress, was sewing a dress for herself this time. Her thoughts were interrupted by more...



Panama GoldPre-Columbian gold is evidence for the spread of metalworking technology across the Panamanian Isthmus
Pre-Columbian gold is artifacts are appreciated for their beauty and impressive craftsmanship. Yet, Panama's contribution to this rich heritage is not well understood. As a narrow bridge between more...