Agency history, 1964-

Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact

Narrow Your Results


Filter Your Results

Expeditions Information

Close Browse records and papers documenting scientific and collecting expeditions either affiliated with the Smithsonian, or with which Smithsonian researchers participated. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by geographic regions predominantly represented in expedition records.


  • Organ, R. M
  • Van Zelst, Lambertus
  • Olin, Charles
  • Postlethwaite, Alan W. 1924-2014
  • Koestler, Robert J (Robert John) 1950-
  • Pell, Claiborne 1918-2009
  • Johnson, Jessica S
  • United States National Museum Conservation Research Laboratory
  • Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education
  • Smithsonian Institution Conservation Analytical Laboratory
  • Museum of History and Technology (U.S.)
  • Smithsonian Institution Museum Support Center


Agency History


  • This is an agency history. It does not describe actual records. The Smithsonian Institution Archives uses these histories as brief accounts of the origin, development, and functions of an office or administrative unit to set that unit in its historical context. To find information on record holdings, please double-click the highlighted field "Creator/Author", which will open on a brief view of relevant records.
  • Proceedings of the Board of Regents, January 26, 1998
  • Guide to the Smithsonian Archives, 1996
  • Smithsonian Institution Archives, Smithsonian History, Museum Conservation Institute,, accessed July 22, 2021.
  • SI-Wide Announcement, "From the Secretary: Bob Koestler to retire as head of MCI," January 11, 2023
  • A Conservation Research Laboratory was first established in 1963 under the direction of the Smithsonian's United States National Museum. In 1964, the laboratory was moved to new quarters in the Museum of History and Technology, now the National Museum of American History. In 1966, the laboratory was renamed the Conservation Analytical Laboratory (CAL). The laboratory began its work by focusing narrowly on preservation and restoration. However, over time its focus broadened so that it became involved in the study and treatment of collections; providing data for understanding museum collections; and supporting, training, and education for Smithsonian and non-Smithsonian conservation staff.
  • In 1987, at the urging of former Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, legislation establishing a Museum Support Center at the Smithsonian also created a center for museum object conservation, research, and training. CAL moved to the Museum Support Center after it opened in 1983. The center specializes in two scientific pursuits: conservation science, which analyzes objects and their materials to determine suitable conservation treatment; and archaeometry, which aims to integrate scientific analysis of objects with their anthropological, archaeological, art historical, and cultural backgrounds. In January 1998 the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian voted to rename CAL as the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education (SCMRE) to better reflect its mission: research and education in the conservation, preservation, technical study and analysis of museum collection items and related materials. In 2006 SCMRE was renamed the Museum Conservation Institute (MCI). The purpose of the name change was to better convey the most critical components of the unit's refocused mission: to be the center for specialized technical collections research and conservation for all Smithsonian museums and collections.
  • The first Director of the unit was Charles Olin, 1966-1967. He was followed by R. M. Organ, 1968-1983; Alan W. Postlethwaite, Acting Director, 1983-1984; Lambertus Van Zelst, 1985-2003; Robert J. Koestler, 2004-2023; and Jessica S. Johnson, Acting Director, 2023- .
  • For a history of the larger creating unit, refer to "Forms part of " above.

Repository Loc.

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520


  • 1964
  • 1964-


  • Conservation and restoration
  • Museum conservation methods
  • Conservators


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00289

Full Record

View Full Record