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Smithsonian to digitize cosmetics and personal care collection

By Deanna Utroske

16-May-2016
Last updated on 16-May-2016 at 18:52 GMT2016-05-16T18:52:50Z

Smithsonian to digitize cosmetics and personal care collection

Making resources available online is a new priority for the museum and thanks to funding from a long-standing personal care brand, the project is moving ahead.

With support from Kiehl’s, The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History will launch its Cosmetics and Personal Care Collections Digitization Project. And, this isn’t the first time that the brand has been involved with the Smithsonian.

Beauty and wellness

The museum’s collection of some 2,000 personal care and cosmetic products is a resource exemplifying the intersection of health and beauty.

And, those items comprise a sub-collection of the 90,000 artifacts the museum's Division of Medicine and Science has on hand to document the progress of health and wellness in the States. “This collection, in particular, highlights the interplay between medicinal and cosmetic products and documents America's ever-changing conceptions of health, beauty and well-being,” according to a press release about the digitization project distributed by the Smithsonian.

Natural history

Besides supporting the digitization project, Kiehl’s is donating 11 more artifacts to the collection. Over time, the brand has added more than 100 items to the medical science collection.

What Kiehl’s has donated, products as well as archival items like early herbal product formulas, “reflects the use of botanicals and natural ingredients within cosmetic products and how Americans have perceived connections between health and beauty.”

Among the latest items that the L’Oréal brand has given the museum is Kiehl's Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner.

World Wide Web

“Digitization initiatives of this type are a priority for all Smithsonian museums and research centers,” explains the institution’s press release.

The project will mean that the museum’s collection is available in a whole new way: “The project will allow the museum's collection of cosmetics and personal care products to be accessed online for education and research around the world.”

Making a digital version is the task of a museum specialist, who “will  identify, photograph and provide descriptive information for the cosmetic and personal care objects collection,” states the release.

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