It’s late winter of 2006 and an ornate silver speaking trumpet is on offer at a prestigious New York City auction house. The engraved...
Piano maker William Steinway woke up on March 12, 1888, and discovered "the most fearful snowstorm . . . I ever experienced" had buried New...
Dr. Margaret Salazar-Porzio, curator of Latino History and Culture in the Home and Community Life division, and intern Jonathan Borda...

Blog Posts in "Conservation"

Conservator sews linen thread along the spine of the Caramelo Deportivo album
In preparation for an exhibition, all objects undergo a thorough assessment of their condition. Conservators determine whether the objects...
Wagon panels with faded artwork advertising a traveling production of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, leaning against a wall outside a building
During my time at the museum’s object conservation lab, I discovered that a set of painted panels in the museum’s collection had quite a...
A skull.
There we were, two curators sifting centuries-old barrels of mud through a screen, when something surprising rolled out of the muck: a...
Woman wearing purple latex gloves presses gently into the inside of one of the Ruby Slippers into a case.
Many noses are pressed against the case that houses Dorothy's Ruby Slippers each day. The famous shoes from The Wizard of Oz attract a lot...
Close-up detail of the end of a fairy's wand. It's the shape of a star, covered in silver/white/gold gems or sparkly stones.
The museum's pair of Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz returned to display on October 19, 2018, after spending time in the museum's...
Woman in green shirt with purple latex gloves adjusts a microscope. She is looking at the Ruby Slippers.
Wielding an adorably tiny vacuum, objects conservator Dawn Wallace peered through her stereomicroscope at thousands of 80-year-old red...
Pair of Ruby Slippers with red sequins and bows, very sparkly but worn
Dawn Wallace and Richard Barden stood in the museum's objects conservation lab over two shoes. Red. Sequin-covered. Small heels. Petite in...
Small carved wooden animals
This is a story about toy boats, cats, a rat, religion, and mounts. What are mounts? It's ok, I get that question a lot. My job as...
On a white background lies a rectangular piece of paper with chunks missing. It looks like a puzzle because some pieces are lined up next to each other. There is a second partially destroyed document laying to the right.
The history behind a single object can often tell many stories. In 2004 the museum acquired a stock certificate from an early Internet...
An object that appears to be made of a rolled piece of crimped paper with accordion folds that is sat upright. There is a painted design on it that appears to be an eagle with American imagery.
Even before they got the vote, young people were historically involved in politics, particularly in the last half of the 19th century. From...
A woman stands inside a case with metal objects attached to poles, and there are lanterns hung up. She holds a white cloth out and attempts to clean the glass in front of her.
As collections managers and museum specialists, our job is to care, physically and intellectually, for the museum's objects. We research...
Color photo of two women in a kitchen surrounded by cookbooks, rosemary plants, dishes, plates, and more. One is holding a pan or pot and peering into it, while the other, by her side, does something that is hard to see due to a rosemary plant.
On the 105th anniversary of Julia Child's birth (August 15, 1912), the museum's food history team is thinking anew about Julia's life and...
A woman wearing a yellow sweater and wearing purple gloves carefully manipulates the fabric of a beautiful white gown with delicate flower and sequin details. The gown is one-shoulder strap. It was worn by First Lady Michelle Obama. The dress is on a form.
Sunae Park Evans probably knows Martha Washington’s measurements better than anyone, including her own seamstress. As the senior costume...
Brown fedora with brown ribbon band
"I'm sorry. The Ruby Slippers aren't on display right now."It's something that we here at the museum are preparing ourselves to have to say...
Costume on a faceless manikin includes pointed black hat tied with brown ribbon, white collar, burlap outfit, and hay pieces dangling.
Update: Your support has helped to make this project a reality! Our campaign to raise support to conserve Dorothy's Ruby Slippers and our...
A little girl admires the Ruby Slippers in a display case
At a little past 11:15 p.m. on Sunday, October 23, 2016, you took us somewhere over the rainbow. With over 5,300 backers, our "Keep Them...
Close-up photo of red sequins, cropped to a circle
Update: Thanks to you, our Kickstarter campaign to "Keep Them Ruby" was a success and we have the support we need to conserve and display...
One of the Ruby Slippers, with a small heel and a beaded bow, covered in sequins, sits under a microscope.
Update: Thanks to you, our Kickstarter campaign to "Keep Them Ruby" was a success and we have the support we need to conserve and display...
One woman kneels into a display case, placing glass objects onto a blue platform/display armature. Another woman holds design plans on paper and watches. In background, case is open to show objects and text panels.
Imagine you're setting a table with your finest glassware, and finding the best placement for each fragile and meaningful piece. Now...
Photo of bicycle
An 1896 women's safety bicycle, currently on view in the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Object Project, has proven to be one of the...
Woman leans over table with white covering and flag in many pieces
In our textile conservation lab, the final pieces of a million piece jigsaw puzzle have just been put into place. The "puzzle" in question...
Alexander Calder's "Gwenfritz"
If you’ve ever visited the museum, you've likely passed by an enormous abstract sculpture called Gwenfritz. After undergoing a massive...
After undergoing an extensive conservation process over the last year, the museum, along with colleagues at the Smithsonian American Art...
These 1961 Richard Avedon photographs capture First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wearing a dress designed in collaboration with Oleg Cassini, her official White House couturier
As staff of the National Museum of American History, we're often told that we have "the coolest jobs." We know we're lucky! But what's it...
A flag that has survived actual "bombs bursting in air" can surely survive anything, right? You’d be surprised. Maintaining the Star-...
author with cookie monster
Yes, those of us on the museum staff know our jobs are awesome. Laura McClure of our Office of Exhibition Services shares what it's like to...
Elmo and Fozzie Bear wait in the conservation lab before their debut at the donation ceremony
On the anniversary of Jim Henson's birthday, the National Museum of American History received a donation of more than 20 Henson puppets and...
One of the largest artifacts in our display on the 1913 woman suffrage parade is also one of the most delicate. Educator MK Macko explains...
Paper repair
Editor’s note: This blog is the fifth in a series of posts about the Jefferson bible conservation project.After careful analysis, it was...
Editor's note: This blog is the fourth in a series of posts about the Jefferson bible conservation project.It is difficult to describe how...
Detail of Bible text
Editor's note: This blog is the third in a series of posts about the Jefferson Bible conservation project.The Life and Morals of Jesus...
Editor's note: This blog is the second in a series of posts about the Jefferson Bible conservation project.How does knowing how...
Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of posts about critical conservation work being conducted on the Jefferson Bible, a treasured...
Jefferson's Bible
You may have heard or noticed that Dan Brown’s latest novel, The Lost Symbol, features Horatio Greenough’s statue of George Washington...
Earl Shaffer’s battered black journal is small. It had to be, to fit in a rucksack with everything a man needed to walk over 2,000 miles...
Inside of Abraham Lincoln's watches reveals both its inner workings and engravings, including ""April 13, 1861 Fort Sumpter was attacked by the rebels on the above date J Dillon April 13, 1861 Washington" and "thank God we have a government Jonth Dillon."
A hush fell over the room as the watchmaker halted his work. A partially-dismantled pocket watch that once belonged to President Abraham...