Work underway to restore damaged artifacts at the Museum of Natural History

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MANHATTAN (PIX11) -- Judith Levinson is the Director of Conservation  Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History.

On December 12, into the "Hall of Northwest Coast Indians," Levinson said smoke came in through vents because of the fire outside the Museum.

Two sprinklers also went off in one area. That night,  Levinson and her team assessed the damage in the Hall.

On Monday, PIX11 met with Levinson at the Museum.

"Water generated by the sprinklers got into, and on the cases in this area," said Levinson. "Some of the pieces were wet, but, not all of them."

Roberto Lebron is the Senior Director of Communications at the Museum.  He said the accidental fire outside affected only this Hall because of the smoke that came in, and water from two sprinklers.

There was no fire inside here the museum. Lebron said there was work being done in a ventilation unit on the outside of the building.

"It was just maintenance work that was being performed outside of the Museum," said Lebron. "A filter caught on fire, it was immediately put out, but the resulting smoke from that just happened to fill in the Hall."

The incident prompted the immediate evacuation of thousands of people that Friday afternoon.

The Museum reopened the next day. The "Hall of Northwest Coast Indians" reopened on  December 20.

"So, the kind of damage that most of the pieces received was really minor, just a little water spots, and some loss of original gloss to the piece," said Levinson. "And, I think this will be easily addressed through conservation treatment."