Thursday, October 4, 2012

National Museum of Natural History Support Center

National Museum of Natural History Support Center

Last week I wrote about attending the Textile Society of America’s 13th biennial symposium in Washington, D.C.  One of the extra activities available to attendees was a site seminar and I chose to visit the National Museum of Natural History Support Center in Suitland, Maryland.  I’m sure every visitor to our capital visits the Smithsonian Institute Museums on the mall.  One could certainly spend weeks at these splendid sites.  Thousands of items of every description are on display at each of the museums, but when one thinks about it, you realize that there must be much, much more stored behind the scenes for study, conservation and preservation.

At the study center we had the opportunity to visit with the anthropology department and view only the smallest number of their extensive collection (over 1,000,000 +).

I will let my photos speak for the experience.

From the conference hotel in D.C. we board our bus for Suitland, Maryland

 Study room at the center

As you can see we could closely examine and photograph, but, of course, no touching!

In the 1850's, federal law required Presidents to give the museum any diplomatic gifts they receive from foreign countries.  This magnificent silk brocade was a gift from the Queen of Madagascar to President Grover Cleveland

Kashmir shawls and the accompanying documentation presented to President Van Buren

Rolls of textiles in storage

Commodore Perry received many textiles on his diplomatic visits to Japan, including dolls and these lovely fans.

I took many photos of the collection which I will share as illustrations of other topics in future blogs.

I wish to thank the staff of the center for their hospitality and the sharing of their knowledge. 
 It is possible for researchers to visit the study center for individual study and groups can be accommodated with advanced notice.

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