about

Cooper Hewitt’s permanent collection includes more than 210,000 objects, which span thirty centuries and a wide variety of materials. The Conservation Department cares for and studies these pieces to ensure their preservation for today and into the future. Conservators provide expertise in the conservation of works on paper, textiles, and three-dimensional objects made of media ranging from brittle glass to pliable plastic. Sarah Barack, Head of Conservation and Senior Objects Conservator, offers a further introduction to the department.

Explore below the department’s work related to the museum’s collection and exhibitions and follow Cooper Hewitt’s Conservation Department on Instagram @cooperhewittconservation.

Conserving Silver-Leaf Mirrors
“Conserving Silver-Leaf Mirrors in a Surtout de Table at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.” Sarah Barack, Jessica Walthew, and Drew Anderson. ICOM-CC Glass and Ceramics Interim Meeting, London, England. September 5–7, 2019. Download a PDF of the presentation poster here (6.5 MB). Sarah Barack, Head of Conservation and Senior Objects Conservator, will be presenting the...
All that Glitters
“All that Glitters: Treatment and Technical Study of an Ormolu Surtout de Table at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum,” Sarah Barack, Jessica Walthew, and Jakki Godfrey. ICOM-CC Metals Interim Meeting, Neuchatel, Switzerland. September 2–6, 2019. Download a PDF of the presentation poster here (6.5 MB). Sarah Barack, Head of Conservation and Senior Objects Conservator,...
Image features tablet computer prototype in the form of a dark gray trapezoidal housing containing a rectangular screen; function buttons along the edges of the housing, and a separate pen-like gray stylus with red top. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A Functional Prototype for a Touchscreen Tablet Computer
This week’s posts feature case studies from Cooper Hewitt’s Digital Collections Management Project, a conservation survey of born-digital and hybrid objects in the permanent collection. The two-year project was coordinated by an in-house team of conservators, curators, and registrar, and was conducted by digital conservation specialist Ben Fino-Radin and his team at Small Data Industries....
Image features an IPad data visualization representing a user's music library: at top left, a sun (artists), top right a planet (album), lower left a moon (song), and at lower right a constellation (filter); below these is a row of various celestial bodies. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Planetary, Cooper Hewitt’s First iOS App
This week’s posts feature case studies from Cooper Hewitt’s Digital Collections Management Project, a conservation survey of born-digital and hybrid objects in the permanent collection. The two-year project was coordinated by an in-house team of conservators, curators, and registrar, and was conducted by digital conservation specialist Ben Fino-Radin and his team at Small Data Industries....
Image features laptop computer in a low, black rectangular housing, hinged at top center to open, clamshell-style, revealing a screen and keyboard. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A Milestone of Early Laptop Computer Development
This week’s posts feature case studies from Cooper Hewitt’s Digital Collections Management Project, a conservation survey of born-digital and hybrid objects in the permanent collection. The two-year project was coordinated by an in-house team of conservators, curators, and registrar, and was conducted by digital conservation specialist Ben Fino-Radin and his team at Small Data Industries....
Image features white 3D-printed construction toy kit connectors of various shapes and sizes. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Preserving 3D Data and 3D Prints
This week’s posts feature case studies from Cooper Hewitt’s Digital Collections Management Project, a conservation survey of born-digital and hybrid objects in the permanent collection. The two-year project was coordinated by an in-house team of conservators, curators, and registrar, and was conducted by digital conservation specialist Ben Fino-Radin and his team at Small Data Industries....
Image features square black form, hinged at the top and opened to reveal an LDC screen showing a black and white drawing of an office with clock and in and out boxes on the wall, a file cabinet, and a desktop in the foreground having a telephone, rolodex, letter, pad, and calendar. A row of icons for different functions is below the desk. A short antenna is attached on right side of the lid, near the hinge. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A Predecessor of Today’s Smartphones
This week’s posts feature case studies from Cooper Hewitt’s Digital Collections Management Project, a conservation survey of born-digital and hybrid objects in the permanent collection. The two-year project was coordinated by an in-house team of conservators, curators, and registrar, and was conducted by digital conservation specialist Ben Fino-Radin and his team at Small Data Industries....
Conserving the Surtout de Table: Cut Glass
Written by Sarah Barack, Head of Conservation, Senior Objects Conservator Thanks to a generous gift from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee, Cooper Hewitt’s spectacular surtout de table centerpiece was the focus of a recent technical study and conservation treatment by the museum’s conservation department. In this series of posts, conservators will be sharing the results of...
From the Dinner Table to Museum Display: Case Study of a Napkin
How textiles are stored greatly impacts their future condition. Creases created by folding textiles become deeply engrained; stress along these folds can create breaks in the fibers, eventually leading to tears; discoloration from light exposure, internal chemical degradation, and exposure to acidic environmental factors like wood furniture, non-archival paper, etc. intensifies along the exposed surfaces...