If you were to spend a mere 45 seconds admiring every one of the Smithsonian’s treasures, it would take you more than 193 years—if nothing were added in the meantime. So where are all of the items that are not on display kept? And, more important, how are they kept?
That’s why, since 1983, the Smithsonian has run the Museum Support Center (MSC), a state-of-the-art storage and conservation facility not usually open to the public. No specimen is too small and no object too large to be accurately organized, filed, and stored in more than half a million square feet of storage space. The Suitland, Maryland, site consists of five buildings, each about the size of a 3-story-tall football field. They include enormous tanks for cleaning whale skulls, chambers to preserve Antarctic meteorites, art from throughout the ages, and a botany collection with five greenhouses.
This tour presents a rare opportunity to take a behind-thescenes look at the inner workings of the different departments of the MSC. Each trip to the MSC is unique and reflects the exhibits and items being prepared at that time.
A gourmet box lunch is provided.
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by bus from the Mayflower Hotel, Connecticut Ave. and DeSales St., N.W.
This tour requires up to 2 miles of walking and a lot of standing.
Hear Natural History Museum curator Dennis Stanford and archaeologist Bruce Bradley discuss their new findings regarding North American migration, specifically their propostition that the first Americans arrived earlier than previously believed.
Head over the Museum Support Center Library for any of your research needs. The library contains material on conservation, biology, entomology, and much more.