The Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) is the center for specialized technical collection research and conservation for all Smithsonian museums and collections. MCI combines knowledge of materials and the history of technology with state-of-the-art instrumentation and scientific techniques to provide technical research studies and interpretation of artistic, anthropological, biological, and historical objects. Through its Healthy Environments, Healthy Practices, Healthy Collections initiative and the training program Preventing Illicit Trafficking – Protecting Cultural Heritage, MCI responds to the threats that will affect cultural heritage in multiple and complex ways, including developing and using less invasive and less damaging materials and procedures for collection conservation and supporting U.S. agencies and the museum community in protecting cultural heritage from looting and theft.
MCI, as the only Smithsonian resource for technical studies and scientific analyses for most of the Smithsonian’s collections, brings unique analytical capabilities to Smithsonian researchers, including a central mass spectroscopy instrument core and advanced technological capabilities. These services are available to Smithsonian units at no charge. In addition to requests for consultations from within the Smithsonian, MCI responds to requests from affiliates and outside organizations, such as the White House, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Department of Homeland Security—Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Department of State, and other federal, museum, and academic organizations.