Museum conservators play a vital role in caring for our more than 70,000 artifacts from Mars rovers to oil paintings. Conservators are responsible for the long-term preservation of cultural property and as trained professionals, we use specialized knowledge and skills in the arts and science to preserve our nation’s aerospace heritage. We honor the history of aerospace achievements by ensuring artifact preservation through scientific research and the development of innovative treatments.
The Conservation unit is located in the Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly, Virginia. We provide the full range of collections stewardship capabilities, covering the spectrum of materials, scale, and unique preservation challenges. The collection ranges from fine and decorative arts from the 18th century, to the most modern technological hardware. This comprehensive breadth of materials requires a support staff with a broad range of skills and expertise to ensure that we achieve the highest standards of collections care.
Each artifact examination provides an opportunity to learn more about its unique history and specific preservation needs. Through materials analysis, we enhance artifact records and devise informed preservation strategies. The lab is equipped with a variety of analytical tools such as a pXRF, FTIR, a portable digital radiography unit, gloss meter, spectrophotometer, and 3D digital and stereo microscopes.
The National Air and Space Museum’s Conservation unit’s objectives are to maintain a high standard of collections care, develop innovative treatments tailored to our unique collection, and carry out practical research to inform our long-term stewardship obligations.
The permanent staff includes a chief conservator, and four objects conservators. Ten additional conservators are currently focused on artifact treatments in support of the museum’s renovation on the National Mall. The unit also includes a group of artifact cleaning staff members. We host two post-graduate fellows for two-year appointments and support on-going collections care initiatives with contracted specialist conservators.
- Apply to be a Conservation Fellow