More Than 1,000 Items Recovered at 'Beach' Exhibit at National Building Museum in Washington, DC

Staff work to reunite items with owners as ball pit is dismantled.

September 9, 2015, 2:07 PM

Washington, DC -- As the tide begins to recede from the National Building Museum’s “Beach” exhibit in Washington, DC, and volunteers start the process of packing up the massive ball pit, more and more buried treasure are being found.

“Anything from wedding bands, heirlooms, jewelry, to hearing aids, to lots of cell phones, and lots of high quality sun glasses,” Kristin Sheldon, the museum’s honorary "lost and found queen" told ABC News.

More than a thousand items have been turned into the information desk since the exhibit’s opening in early July. Behind the desk, there are makeshift boxes, overflowing with stuff.

“Today’s bag, to give you a sense,” Sheldon said as she picks up a bursting zip-lock pouch, “a couple of cell phones, a wallet, couple of credit cards. This is pretty indicative of what we’ve found.”

The gatekeeper to these treasures is a huge binder, housing more than 800 inquiries forms from visitors.

“A young man went to great lengths in his inquiry to get his pink diamond back and Silly Putty,” Sheldon laughs and she holds up the costume diamond and a balm of Silly Putty.

She said some other sought out items include a bandanna, single shoes and a $20 bill.

“And lens caps. I have a whole bag of lens caps.” Sheldon said.

The museum plans to try and match the items requested in forms with the belongings in the boxes. Anything unaccounted for is going to be donated to charity, reused by the museum, or thrown out.

More personal belongings are expected to be recovered in the coming days as several dozen volunteers work to pack up the more than 700,000 balls. The exhibit is being moved across town into storage where an art coalition will use it as inspiration for a design competition.

“It’s going to be interesting. It’s going to be fun,” said Sheldon. “Museum people love objects. We love the stories they tell. This is just an added bonus to the really successful summer we’ve had.”

More than 180,000 people visited the exhibit this summer.

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