In our next installment of highlights from Here At The Smithsonian, I’ll be taking a look at two of our episodes that contain clips about art conservation treatments from around the Institution. The series, produced from 1982 to 1989, was aired during commercial newscasts to circulate information about Smithsonian exhibitions and research. The first clip, which aired in 1982, features the annual treatment program for outdoor sculpture at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
How Does Your Sculpture Grow?, from Volume 1, Episode 2.
Modern pollutants can cause notable damage to the surfaces of outdoor sculpture—from bronzes to painted metal surfaces. Each year, the Hirshhorn cleans and applies protective coatings to prevent destructive substances from vehicle exhausts and acid in rain from depositing on the surfaces of sculptures. This treatment program is still happening each year thanks to conservators and pre-program interns!
Hooray for the Red, White and Blue, from Volume 1, Episode 3.
In 1912, the Smithsonian received the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that was raised over Fort McHenry in Baltimore on the morning of September 14, 1814, when U.S. soldiers defeated British troops after 25 hours of bombardment. Upon its arrival to the Smithsonian, a team of women worked to repair and stabilize the flag using 60 stitches per square inch. For a flag that measures 42 by 30 feet, that’s just under 11 million stitches. My hands and eyes hurt just thinking about it!
Make sure to check back in next month for more episodes from Here At The Smithsonian!
- Office of Telecommunications Productions, 1982–1989, Accession 00-132, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- “Introducing Here At The Smithsonian,” by Kira Sobers, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives