Secretary Lonnie Bunch on the Invisible Work of the Smithsonian’s Conservators | At the Smithsonian

After the Smithsonian collects an object, what happens to it? Some objects go on display, some become vital resources for researchers and scientists, some are loaned to peer institutions or federal agencies.

But none of this would be possible without conservation: the complex technical work to preserve, restore and research the 155 million objects in the Smithsonian collections. From pigment to porcelain, silk to stone, our conservators support the material needs of every Smithsonian museum. Whether protecting revered artifacts from rare bacteria or pioneering new methods in spectroscopy, Smithsonian staff combine object expertise and state-of-the-art technology to better understand the natural world, history, aerospace, archaeology and art.

I am awed by this work. It requires great technical acumen, ingenuity and meticulous attention to detail. Many of the objects we collect need serious TLC: intensive cleaning, painstaking repair, storage in a controlled and safe environment. And at the Smithsonian, we specialize

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