A Rare Peek Inside the Secret Storerooms of the Smithsonian

This year, the prestigious Smithsonian Institution celebrates its 175th birthday. The institute is home to a collection of over 155 million items, spread over its 20 museums, galleries, and off-site storage facilities. Most of the 11 million square feet of storage and exhibition spaces are located in New York City, suburban Maryland, and Washington D.C. The unimaginably wide range of artifacts includes everything from ants to elephants, slingshots to space shuttles.

The Display

It’s a fact that only one percent of the Smithsonian’s treasure trove is on public display at any given time, leaving millions of interesting items hidden in high-security backrooms and storage facilities. Meticulously organized and maintained, these unseen treasures are enough to blow anyone’s mind!

The Hidden Storage

The backroom storage holding Smithsonian collections in the National Museum of American History is almost like a maze. A double-door cabinet in the 5th-floor storage area is occupied by a multitude of Muppets, including Mr. Moose, Bunny Rabbit, Sam and Friends, Kermit the Frog, Captain Kangaroo, and many more. On the same floor, the top drawer of a case includes a collection of baseballs signed by esteemed sports figures. Another room houses an old library filing cabinet, with a deceptive exterior of an obsolete office fixture. But the treasure lies in a drawer of the cabinet, labeled ‘Phyllis Diller,’ holding the joke catalog of the comedian. Another glass cabinet is filled with a vintage collection of lunch boxes and thermos bottles. The rows of boxes and cabinets include amazing items like a bronze cast of boxer Joe Louis’ hand, original animation sketches of Woody Woodpecker and Mickey Mouse, fake blood-stained props worn by Sylvester Stallone in Rocky III, the bicycle of Lance Armstrong, and even a perfectly preserved tightly shackled Gremlin from the 1990 Joe Dante horror comedy Gremlins 2.