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“Hidden Treasures” at the Heinz Center

The post was written by Vanessa Haight Smith, book conservator and head of Preservation Services.

On August 19th, I participated in the fifth annual “Hidden Treasures” event at the SI affiliate, the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.  Visitors to the popular event are encouraged to bring their prized possessions  to the History Center and meet with professional appraisers as the local CBS affiliate, KDKA-TV, cameras roam the museum.

Nearly 50 appraisers from a variety of disciplines were on hand to assess the historic significance of  items, and provided a verbal assessment of potential monetary value. In addition, two Smithsonian conservators –  Hugh Shockey (object conservator, Smithsonian American Art Museum) and myself – were there to provide advice on how the public could best preserve and care for their treasures.

The event lasted from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and included hundreds of visitors. Some examples of items brought to the museum were Civil War ledgers and diaries, WWII posters, 19th century scrapbooks, photographs and  albums , violins, dolls, sculpture, and Japanese swords.

Hugh Shockey, of SAAM, with Vanessa Haight Smith in background.

This was the perfect blend of outreach, not only providing the opportunity to advise the public but to meet conservation professionals in the Pittsburgh region, and become better acquainted with our very own Smithsonian conservation colleagues.



Vanessa Haight Smith


  1. This is a fantastic example of the Smithsonian in your neighborhood! And timely too, for the Smithsonian Institution Archives and Special Collections Council just announced our Hidden Treasures programming for those in our usual neighborhood of the DC-MD-VA area, or who might be visiting during mid-October 2012. We are hosting our 3rd annual October is American Archives Month Archives Fair (focusing on archival materials), Facebook event and Ask the Smithsonian, right here at the Ripley Center. Details should be linked above or below. The lectures & films are free, and registration for the Ask the Smithsonian opens on October 1. Thank you for your great example in Pittsburgh!

      • Erin Rushing

        Thanks, Nora! I helped man the SIL table at the Archives Fair last year and it was a great event!

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