Collecting

Jim Metzner recording on Great Gull Island

In Thousands of Recordings, Jim Metzner Collected Sounds From Around the World

The Library of Congress has acquired the prolific radio producer's full body of work

To grab pedestrians’ attention, Pahl built a 19-foot-tall hammer and erected it on the lawn in front of the museum in 2007.

Alaska

A Small Town in Alaska Is Home to the World's First Hammer Museum

Perhaps no one knows the history of the tool better than collector Dave Pahl, who opened a shrine of his artifacts in Haines 20 years ago

Ornithologist Edmund Selous made empathy for birds respectable and, in doing so, changed the world. Bird-watching became a popular pastime, eventually making birding scientific and playing a pivotal role in the animals’ conservation.

How Bird Collecting Evolved Into Bird-Watching

In the early 1900s, newfound empathy for avian creatures helped wildlife observation displace dispassionate killing

Albert “Kid” Mertz (above: Untitled, c. 1980) painted hundreds, possibly thousands of railroad spikes he had collected from tracks near his property, giving each spike a cheerful face.

The Allure of Self-Taught Art

SAAM’s new show “We Are Made of Stories” examines the 20th-century rise and creative vision of artists who make art without formal training

This commemorative sculpture by an Edo artist is one of 29 objects the Smithsonian is proposing to repatriate to Nigeria. 

Why the Smithsonian Adopted a New Policy on Ethical Collecting

For more than a century, museum artifacts were acquired in ways we no longer find acceptable. How can we repair the damage?

Every wall, table and shelf in Elizabeth Meaders' three-story Staten Island home is crammed with pictures, posters, signs, statues, medals, sports memorabilia and military gear.

Women Who Shaped History

Why a Schoolteacher Spent 70 Years Collecting Thousands of Black History Artifacts

Elizabeth Meaders' acquisitions include sports memorabilia, civil rights posters, military paraphernalia and art

Found among Steinhardt's stolen artifacts was the Larnax, a small chest that was used to store human remains. Dated to between 1200 and 1400 B.C.E., the chest originated on the island of Crete.

New York Antiquities Collector Returns 180 Stolen Artifacts Worth $70 Million

A deal made with the Manhattan district attorney bars billionaire Michael Steinhardt from purchasing ancient objects for the rest of his life

Almost 75 years after the mobster’s death, an eclectic bunch of enthusiasts continue to chase his memory.

Inside the Global Cult of Al Capone

A recent auction of the Chicago gangster's mementos testifies to his enduring appeal—and the thorny nature of collecting items owned by criminals

Smithsonian Voices

How the Smithsonian Collected Artifacts That Told the Story of Hurricane Katrina

There are about 160,000 species of moths and butterflies worldwide, each with unique characteristics.

Smithsonian Voices

Marvel at the World's Most Magnificent Moths

With thousands of species of moths worldwide, each with unique characteristics, check out these unusual specimens in the Smithsonian collections

A 1996 copy of "Super Mario 64"—rated 9.8, or A++, on the Wata Scale—sold last Sunday for $1.56 million.

'Super Mario 64' Is Now the World's Most Expensive Video Game

A pristine copy of the 1996 game sold at auction for $1.56 million, breaking a record set by "The Legend of Zelda" just two days prior

Here are 12 of the rarest doo-wop records ever made. “Can’t Help Loving That Girl of Mine” (1954) by Philadelphia’s 
Hide-A-Ways is, Shively says, the “holy grail of vocal group
collecting.”

A Peek Inside the World's Greatest Record Store

A lovable grouch, obsessed with the magic of American sidewalk harmony, runs the Philadelphia shop

The newly auctioned gold coin is the only 1933 "Double Eagle" legally held in private hands.

The World's Most Valuable Coin Sells at Auction for $18.9 Million

Three collectibles, including a 1993 gold "Double Eagle" and the world’s rarest stamp, fetched more than $30 million at Sotheby’s

The periodical cicada species, Magicicada septendecim, will erupt from the ground this spring in the mid-Atlantic region. The last time the species from Brood X appeared for their cyclical mating cycle was in 2004.

Smithsonian Voices

What to Expect When the Cicadas Emerge This Spring

A trillion cicadas expected to invade the Washington metropolitan region when the ground warms to 64 degrees

The National Museum of Natural History’s 146 million objects and specimens are studied by researchers worldwide who are looking to understand all aspects of the natural world.

Smithsonian Voices

How Museum Collections Advance Knowledge of Human Health

Surprisingly, mosquitoes, leeches, parasites, birds and minerals can be important sources for research to fight cancer and prevent disease

A framed display of locks of George and Martha Washington's hair is estimated to sell for upward of $75,000.

Trove of Presidential Memorabilia, From Washington's Hair to JFK's Sweater, Is Up for Sale

RR Auction is offering a collection of nearly 300 artifacts, including a signed photo of Abraham Lincoln and a pen used by FDR

“We found ourselves in just that moment of knowing that history was unfolding before our very eyes on January 6,” writes the museum’s director Anthea M. Hartig (above).

Smithsonian Voices

Director of the American History Museum Reflects on the Challenges of Our Historic Times

Anthea M. Hartig, the Director of the National Museum of American History, reflects on the challenges of living through a historic time

“A key tenet of ... constitutional democracy is the peaceful transfer of power following U.S. presidential elections, dating back to the republic’s first presidential election,” said Anthea Hartig, director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, in a statement. “This week, that core belief was shaken.”

History of Now

How the Smithsonian and Other Museums Are Responding to the U.S. Capitol Riot

Leading institutions have started collecting artifacts and working to contextualize last week's violent attack

The carriage that Ulysses S. Grant rode to his second inauguration is one of 900 items in the exhibition "The American Presidency."

Secretary Lonnie Bunch on the Year Ahead for Museums

After a year fraught with challenges, we must build on our strengths for a common purpose

North American species like the Colorado potato beetle and the fall armyworm have become invasive elsewhere.

Ask Smithsonian

Have Any North American Species Become Invasive Elsewhere in the World?

You've got question. We've got experts

loading icon