All Smithsonian museums are temporarily closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. We are not announcing a re-opening date at this time and will provide updates on a week-to-week basis.
World Elephant Day 2019: Ivory: Significance and Protection
Ivory is found in all units of the Smithsonian Institution, from the National Museum of Natural History to the National Air and Space Museum. The Smithsonian takes its commitment to treasuring these historical collections very seriously, while also actively advocating for more effective measures to protect endangered animal populations. The National Museum of African Art (NMAfA) in particular holds many wonderful artworks made of ivory in its collection (The illustrated artworks, photographed by Franko Khoury, are from NMAfA’s collection). As stewards of this collection, the museum and staff value its role in protecting and preserving these beautiful, historical, and important works of art. At the same time, we are aware of the current international demand for ivory, the dangers of the illicit ivory trade, and the current risks to elephant populations. This resource aims to inform the public about ivory—the material, its cultural uses and its importance—as well as the risks facing elephants today and the efforts to help protect this endangered species. It also offers an introduction to ivory identification and artifact preservation.