Inside the Conservation Lab

Thu, August 15 2019

Preserving Flak-Bait's Fabric Panels

To the best of our knowledge, Flak-Bait is the only World War II bomber of its kind to retain the original insulating fabric panels lining the interior of the forward fuselage. To preserve the original fabric, we performed a number of innovative conservation treatments.

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Preserving Flak-Bait's Fabric Panels

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Fri, May 31 2019

Preserving Flak-Bait: Saving Doped Fabric

The Martin B-26B Marauder Flak-Bait, an iconic artifact of World War II is undergoing artifact treatment in the Museum’s Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar. In this first in a series of blogs about the conservation of the aircraft, we explore the preservation of the doped fabric on the rudder.

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Preserving Flak-Bait: Saving Doped Fabric

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Thu, September 6 2018

Conserving Spock's Ear

It’s become one of the most well-known appendages in pop culture history—Spock’s pointed ears, signaling him as half-Vulcan, and now synonymous with the beloved sci-fi series. The Museum’s conservation team recently treated a replica ear in our collection.

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Thu, March 22 2018

Conserving Artifacts from Command Module Columbia

How the Museum's conservation team treated an Apollo 11 artifact, a medical accessory kit stowed aboard the Command Module Columbia during the historic lunar mission.

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Conserving Artifacts from Command Module Columbia

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Wed, December 20 2017

Preserving a 170 Year-Old Chinese Kite Collection

Conservation work is continuing on the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum’s collection of traditional Chinese paper kites at our Emil Buehler Conservation Lab.

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Fri, November 3 2017

"Kiss Me Darling:" Conserving the Rituals of Dating and Dancing

The Clouds in a Bag exhibit at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, displays many early renditions of ballooning, including a 18th-19th century dance box. Take a look at the conservation process behind this charming object. 

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Wed, February 22 2017

Preparing Columbia for a National Tour

The last time the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia traveled the US was in 1970.  Almost 50 years later, the historic spacecraft that helped take us to the Moon and back is headed out on the road for a nationwide tour. Following the tour, the Command Module will be placed on permanent display in the exhibition Destination Moon, scheduled to open in 2020 at the Museum in Washington, DC. The Museum’s conservation team will spend the next six months preparing the artifact for travel and display. Conservator Lisa Young shares what the next few months will look like and what she’s most interested in finding out about Columbia.

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Preparing Columbia for a National Tour

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Fri, February 3 2017

Conserving the Museum’s Chinese Kites

Conservator Amanda Malkin has spent the last year examining, documenting, and conservering the Museum's 20 nineteenth century Chinese kites. Malkin shares how the traditional kites were constructed from the multiple thicknesses of split bamboo to the plant fibers that make up the Chinese paper. She also documents her conservation process for one of the treated kites, including the delicate process of removing brown craft paper tape. 

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Fri, December 23 2016

Apollo 11 Command Module Moves to Virginia

This week the Apollo 11 Command Module, Columbia, which carried Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins on their historic trip to the Moon, moved to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. To many of us at the Museum, the move seemed to have miraculously happened overnight. In truth, the move took a team of experts and months of meticulous planning to pull off. “This is something that’s unlike anything, at least for me, that I’ve ever moved,” said Anthony Wallace, a museum specialist in the Museum’s collections processing unit. Wallace explained that the spacecraft was not as complicated to move as some of the Museum’s aircraft, but the historical significance of the object heightened everyone’s awareness.

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Tue, September 6 2016

What’s that Smell? Conserving Apollo 16 Film Transport

The Museum periodically performs a thorough, physical check of all our objects. We open panels and cases and closely inspect each object for any sign of deterioration due to light, humidity, vibration, or just the march of time. We always hope there are no surprises. But when conservator Robin O’Hern, gallery inventory coordinator Erin Ober, and their colleagues opened a large chamber in the Apollo to the Moon gallery, they got a shock; an acrid chemical smell.

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