Collections Care


Collection Stewardship

Center for Archives ConservationThe Smithsonian Institution Archives has a fundamental responsibility for collections stewardship. Measures are taken every day to ensure that documents and records, both analog and digital, are preserved for future generations, and made accessible through current technologies. The Archives cares for several media, from paper documents and photographs, to flexible film and magnetic media to floppy disks and hard drives. Through stabilization measures such as providing appropriate housing materials, timely preservation treatments, and excellent storage climates, these materials are available to the public for reference.


Digitization efforts at the Archives make it possible to research the collections any time of day. Because access to high quality digital copies helps to limit handling of the original materials, this also acts as a preservation measure. The archives follows best practices and establishes guidelines for creating, delivering, and preserving digital content.


The Smithsonian Center for Archives Conservation staff operates the Archives’ state-of-the-art conservation lab providing hands-on treatment for damaged or deteriorating paper-based collections, and conducts research on the pressing conservation issues—such as iron gall ink deterioration—with conservation interns and fellows. The Center also provides conservation and preservation management services and training to other Smithsonian divisions who do not have their own conservators on staff.

Electronic Records Program

The Electronic Records Program is devoted to the preservation and curation of the Archives’ born digital records. Program staff actively engages in research and standards development with archives, other cultural heritage organizations, and records management professionals across the world.

Access collections care and conservation tips and guidelines on the Archives’ forums.