The first effort to organize a historic collection at the Treasury Department occurred between 1924-1927 when Assistant Secretary Charles Dewey surveyed the Treasury Building for antiques and artwork to exhibit in executive offices. The initial collection expanded as Treasury's bureaus outgrew and modernized their respective buildings and contributed their antiques to the Treasury collection. Custom houses and U.S. Mint buildings were an especially rich source for antiques, providing furniture and obsolete office equipment from throughout the United States.
The Treasury Building, America's first modern office building, preserves one of the finest and most extensively documented collections of 19th and early 20th-century office furniture in the United States. This richly diverse collection contains desks, bookcases, conference and tables, chairs, clocks, over-mantel mirrors and office equipment. Many of the objects retain their original maker's and manufacturer's labels while others are identified through inventories, invoices, and period photographs, providing diverse sources of documentation for a significant aspect of American material culture.
Ongoing Treasury Building restoration projects continually enhance the original collection through the purchase of antique furnishings that contribute to the historical integrity of the restored rooms. The acquisition of select objects is based on inventories, engravings and photographs that document the original appearance of the restored spaces. In each case, newly acquired furnishings complement pieces already in the Treasury Collection.