Smithsonian Announces the Cosmetics and Personal Care Collections Digitization Project With Support From Kiehl’s

May 11, 2016

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will launch its Cosmetics and Personal Care Collections Digitization Project, made possible with the support of Kiehl’s Since 1851—an American skincare company based in New York. Kiehl’s is also donating 11 new products to the museum’s medical science collections. This donation will complement the more than 100 artifacts that Kiehl’s has previously donated to the Smithsonian throughout the years.

The museum’s Division of Medicine and Science documents the advances and changes made in health and wellness throughout American history. It has approximately 90,000 artifacts, including a collection of 2,000 personal care and beauty products. This collection, in particular, highlights the interplay between medicinal and cosmetic products and documents America’s ever-changing conceptions of health, beauty and well-being. The division’s medical collections also include such notable objects such as the AbioCor Total Artificial Heart, an iron lung and the Salk vaccine.

The museum’s collection currently includes a number of Kiehl’s products as well as archival collections such as original formulas for many of Kiehl’s earlier herbal products. The collection reflects the use of botanicals and natural ingredients within cosmetic products and how Americans have perceived connections between health and beauty. The recent donation of 11 products, such as Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner, enhances this collection.

 The National Museum of American History, with the support of Kiehl’s, plans to extend the collection to the Web through the Cosmetics and Personal Care Collections Digitization Project. A museum specialist will identify, photograph and provide descriptive information for the cosmetic and personal care objects collection on the Web. The project will allow the museum’s collection of cosmetics and personal care products to be accessed online for education and research around the world; it can be accessed at bitly.com/CosMedSci. Digitization initiatives of this type are a priority for all Smithsonian museums and research centers.

About Kiehl’s Since 1851

Established in New York City in 1851, Kiehl’s has been offering facial, hair and body care products for 165 years. The company represents a unique blend of pharmaceutical, herbal and medicinal formulas developed and passed on through generations. Its donation and support of the museum’s digitization project will help document this important aspect of American life. 

About the Museum

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. The museum helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. For more information, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free.

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