THE LEGACY OF ANTHROPOLOGY COLLECTIONS CARE AT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
MICHELE AUSTIN, NATALIE FIRNHABER, LISA GOLDBERG, GRETA HANSEN, & CATHERINE MAGEE
Today, the Anthropology Conservation Laboratory (ACL), established in the 1960s, is housed in a modern facility at the Museum Support Center (MSC) in Suitland, Maryland and is charged with the care of 2.5 million artifacts belonging to the Department of Anthropology of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Smithsonian Institution. The care of these artifacts began more than a century ago with the establishment of the Smithsonian as a collecting institution. Collections care began in a series of workshops which were gradually transformed into laboratories, culminating in the creation of the ACL. Precursors to current philosophical tenets in preventive conservation can be discerned in oral history and archival records which describe the prevention of damage through pest control, collections maintenance, proper storage, and careful display.