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About Us: Conservation Program

Caring for the Collection

Help in a Disaster

The Conservation Program in the History of Medicine Division (HMD) at NLM maintains books, manuscripts, and prints and photographs in a condition that allows access for research and exhibition, while assuring their preservation for future users.

The Conservation Program provides assessments, stabilization and treatment of collections, and protective housing and storage for rare materials. areas,. The conservation staff engage in new research and contribute to the field by publishing, offering presentations and tours, and working collaboratively with other institutions. For some projects, the program may host student interns and volunteers and educate staff members who work with fragile documents.

The Program also works collaboratively with the Exhibition Program on display and lending of original material for exhibition with and other HMD and NLM staff on the preparation and handling of material for digital scanning, copying, and photography

Preservation at NLM

The Conservation Program works in collaboration with the Preservation and Collection Management Section of the National Library of Medicine, which supports the physical needs of the general and history of medicine collections including space planning, environmental monitoring, disaster prevention and recovery, and more. Learn more about the NLM Preservation Policy.

Three women examine books on a table.

NLM and the Jewish Museum of Maryland staff review books going on loan.

Institutional Loans for Exhibition

Information for Curators and Registrars

The National Library of Medicine loans items from its history of medicine collections for display in public exhibitions to qualifying institutions on a case by case basis. If you represent an organization that is interested in arranging a loan, please call (301) 402-8878 or contact NLM Customer Support.

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  • Borrowing institutions are required to meet museum exhibition best practices and standards to protect collections from unnecessary damage during transportation and exhibition. All items will be reviewed by an NLM conservator prior to loan. Requirements will include specifications for the exhibition environment, monitoring, security, display, and transportation. Please call (301) 402-8878 or contact NLM Customer Support for details.

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  • Loans have been arranged to:

    • New York University Institute for the Study of the Ancient World for its exhibition Romance and Reason: Islamic Transformations of the Classical Past. Read more...
    • National Building Museum for its exhibition Architecture of an Asylum: St Elizabeths 1852-2017. Read more...
    • Jewish Museum of Maryland for its exhibition Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews & Medicine in America. Read more...
    • The Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution for its exhibition Yoga: The Art of Transformation. Read more...
    • The Grolier Club of New York for its exhibition Extraordinary Women in Science & Medicine: Four Centuries of Achievement. Read more...
    • The Metropolitan Museum of Art for The Cloisters’ exhibition Search for the Unicorn: An Exhibition in Honor of The Cloisters’ 75th Anniversary. Read more...
    • Yeshiva University Museum for its exhibition Trail of the Magic Bullet: The Jewish Encounter with Modern Medicine, 1860–1960. Read more...
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  • The National Library of Medicine is a part of the National Institutes of Health, one of America’s national libraries, the world’s largest biomedical library, and home to a world-renowned collection of historical material related to human health and disease: from archives to monographs, films to ephemera. The Library celebrates its historical collections through its award-winning Exhibition Program, which develops and presents exhibitions and multidisciplinary educational tools that make the National Library of Medicine’s historical collections available to audiences around the world.

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Conservation News on Our Blog