An MCI conservation scientist using X-Ray Fluorescence technology (Photo: Janet Douglas)
The Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) is the center for specialized technical collection research and conservation for all of the Smithsonian’s museums and collections. The center, located in Suitland, Maryland, focuses on two pursuits: conservation science, which analyzes objects and their materials to determine suitable conservation treatment; and technical studies, which aims to integrate the scientific analysis of objects with their anthropological, archaeological, artistic, historical, and cultural backgrounds.
This members-only tour offers the rare opportunity to go behind the scenes at the MCI labs and studios where scientific analyses and conservation treatments of the Smithsonian’s collections take place. Staff members provide background on their work, and demonstrate how conservation treatments help prepare objects for exhibition, or preserve them for long-term storage and future study or viewing by researchers and the public.
The tour also includes the Smithsonian Museum Support Center PODS, climate-controlled auxiliary storage facilities for thousands of museum collections. The visit offers a look at objects that are never displayed to the public, representing a variety of Smithsonian collections including anthropology, vertebrates, mammals, and others.
A gourmet boxed lunch is provided. A photo ID is required.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)