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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Losing Paradise exhibit illustration by Kim Silene


Dinosaurs/Hall of Paleobiology

The National Fossil Hall


Please note that the National Fossil Hall is currently closed for renovation. A brand new hall will open to the public in 2019. Dinosaurs are on view in the exhibit The Last American Dinosaurs on the second floor.

For more information about the National Fossil Hall renovations or our current or upcoming dinosaur exhibits, please visit

Outside Museum Grounds:

Solder collectors sitting at a table

Museum Grounds - Urban Bird Habitat

Location: Museum grounds around the outside of the museum.
August, 2012 - Indefinite

Even downtown, birds bring color and song to the heart of the city. The Smithsonian Gardens and the National Museum of Natural History have created habitats around the Museum to attract the many bird species who are either year-round residents or seasonal visitors to the District of Columbia. The Urban Bird Habitat provides birds with their basic needs – food, water, shelter, and a place to raise their young, while signs highlight bird ecology, life histories, and tips for creating backyard bird habitats. Open 24/7.


Ground Floor:

An illustration of passenger pigeons and other extinct North American birds

Exhibit Cases - Once There Were Billions: Vanished Birds of North America

Location: Ground Floor, Evans Gallery
June 24, 2014 - January 3, 2016

One hundred years ago, Martha the Passenger Pigeon died. It was the last member of a species that once filled American Skies by the billions. These exhibit cases commemorate that anniversary by exploring birds such as the Passenger Pigeon, Carolina Parakeet, Labrador Duck, Great Auk and Heath Hen that once roamed North American but were driven to extinction. Martha the Passenger Pigeon will be mounted on public view for the first time since 1999.

Yellow Warbler

Birds of D.C.

Exhibit: Permanent

Brandishing their fine plumage, the birds in these cases have helped generations of visitors identify local species. Year-round and seasonal residents, migrants and vagrants--hundreds of species in all--are displayed here. Yellow Warbler

First Floor:

African elephant

African Elephant

Exhibit: Permanent
First Floor, Rotunda

Our iconic African Elephant has undergone a remake! The new setting explores the evolution of elephants from their earliest predecessors to the three modern-day species. Learn about elephant behavior and the threats facing elephants today. Discover the long-hidden compass on our rotunda floor revealed by the latest remake.

Rocky shores of Iceland with water, ice and dramatic clouds in the background

Primordial Landscapes: Iceland Revealed

Location: First Floor, Special Exhibits Hall (near the Mammals Hall)
July 2, 2015 - April TBD, 2017

Photographer Feodor Pitcairn and poet Ari Trausti Guðmundsson reveal a land of fire, ice, hardy life, and natural beauty. Experience the remote beauty of Iceland, a land sculpted by the elements and forged by active geologic activity.

Malian mud mason applying mudwork atop structure

Mud Masons of Mali

Location: African Voices Hall Focus Gallery, 1st Floor
August 31, 2013 - Indefinite

Djenne, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mali, is famous for its spectacular architecture. The city owes its unique character to its masons, inheritors of a craft tradition handed down from one generation of the Boso people to the next since the city arose in the 14th century. Discover -- through archival and contemporary photographs and early engravings -- how the masons continue their age-old craft and meet the challenges of a modern world.



Exhibit: Permanent

This glass enclosed lab allows visitors to watch museum paleontologists and trained volunteers extract fossils from rock and construct fossil casts and molds.

Transparent Sea Cucumber

Exhibit Case - The Census of Marine Life: A Decade of Discovery

Location: First Floor, Sant Ocean Hall
One Exhibit Case: September 13, 2012 - Indefinite

The Census of Marine Life project, a decade-long project culminating in 2010, produced the most comprehensive inventory of known marine life ever compiled and cataloged. The project, which will be the basis for future research, involved several curators from the museum and from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Systematics Lab at the museum. This case features the prestigious International COSMOS prize received by the project, graphics, and a squid specimen.

African child

African Voices

Exhibit: Permanent

Examines the diversity, dynamism, and global influence of Africa's peoples and cultures over time in the realms of family, work, community, and the natural environment.

Panda bear

The Kenneth E. Behring Family Hall of Mammals

Exhibit: Permanent

Invites visitors to explore the incredible diversity of mammals, including humans, and the processes by which they arose and continue to adapt. Features 274 exciting mammals and dozens of fossils in a variety of environments.

Dr. Rick Potts, Director of the Human Origins Program, examining stone tools and other prehistoric artifacts along with casts of early human fossils  from the collections at NMNH,  Smithsonian Institution. Photo by Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution

The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins

Location: First Floor
Exhibit: March 17, 2010 - Permanent

Based on decades of cutting-edge research by Smithsonian scientists, the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins will tell the epic story of human evolution and how humans evolved over six million years in response to a changing world. Following the process of scientific discovery, visitors will explore the evidence for human evolution, come face-to-face with unforgettable representations of early humans, and arrive at a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.

Discovery Room

Q?rius jr: a discovery room

Educational Facility: Permanent

Q?rius jr is a unique educational facility for families and students. The room features activities using real Museum objects and interactive, hands-on experiences that allow visitors to explore the natural world at their own pace, guided by their own interests and sense of wonder.

The Sant Ocean Hall – Opens Sept. 27. Image: Glowing-sucker Octopod, Photo courtesy of David Shale

The Sant Ocean Hall

Location: First Floor
Exhibit: Permanent

A one-of-a-kind interpretive exhibit, extraordinary in scale, the Sant Ocean Hall presents the global ocean from a cross-disciplinary perspective, highlighting the biological, geological, and anthropological expertise and unparalleled scientific collections of the Museum, as well as ongoing research in marine science. The ocean is intrinsically connected to other global systems and to our daily lives. Artist rendering of the Sant Ocean Hall

Second Floor:

A close up of an Atlantic Puffin holding a Wild Iris in its beak

Nature's Best Photography Presents:
Best of the Best.
Windland Smith Rice International Awards

Location: Second Floor, Special Exhibits Hall
October 24, 2015 - Fall TBD, 2016

Enjoy 20 years of nature's finest moments in the "Best of the Best" photo exhibition. Selected from nearly 500,000 images submitted by photographers from around the globe, this collection brings dramatic landscapes, exciting wildlife behavior, and surprising glimpses of Earth's icy peaks to mysterious ocean depths.


More than 100 large-format prints along with HD videos will take you on a thrilling journey from the wild to the walls of the Smithsonian. Learn how to enter your own photography in the annual Awards.

Lions lying in the bush against an orange sky

National Geographic Into Africa: The Photography of Frans Lanting

Location: Second Floor, Special Exhibits Hall
June 4, 2015 - Summer TBD, 2016

Take a personal journey into the wonders of wild Africa as seen through the lens of National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting. Over the past three decades his images have created an enduring vision of the continent’s wildlife and wild places—and what is at stake.

An illustration of passenger pigeons and other extinct North American birds

The Last American Dinosaurs: Discovering a Lost World

Location: Second Floor
November 25, 2014 - 2018 (TBA)

66 Million Years Ago, the last dinosaurs roamed what is now the Western Interior of North America. Then global catasprophe ended their reign. Walk through time to explore our scientists' findings to the questions that help us understand America's last dinosaurs, their the lives, and their ultimate demise.

Wilderness landscape of a river and mountains in the background lit by setting sunlight

Wilderness Forever: 50 Years of Protecting America's Wild Places

Location: Second Floor
September 3, 2014 - TBA, 2015

This juried photography exhibition celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, a cornerstone of American environmental conservation. The exhibit explores the majesty, diversity, and value of the nation's wilderness areas. Approximately 50 award-winning large-format images by professional, amateur, and student photographers reveal America as you've never seen it -- wild, untouched, and free.

Man's mummy mask, 200-30 BC

Eternal Life in Ancient Egypt

Location: Second Floor
Exhibit: November 17, 2011 - Indefinite

This exhibit focuses on Egyptian burial ritual, its place with ancient Egyptian cosmology, and the insights that mummies, burial ritual, and cosmology provide about life in ancient Egypt. Understand how burial practices and associated religious beliefs serve as windows into world cultures. We invite our visitors to explore the ways in which mummies, tombs, and Egyptian mythology open new windows into the lives of ancient Egyptians as they navigated through the world of the living to achieve eternal life after death.

Dinosaurs in Our Backyard Graphic (c) Smithsonian Institution

Exhibit Case: Dinosaurs in Our Backyard

Location: Second Floor, Hall 26 Lounge
One Exhibit Case: April 4, 2014 - Indefinite

From 225 to 65 million years ago, dinosaurs lived everywhere on Earth—including around Washington, D.C.  This case explores how scientists piece together information about dinosaur biology, ecology, and evolution from fossil specimens, and the important contributions amateur collectors make to the Museum’s collections and knowledge. Visitors can see a unique skeleton impression of a baby dinosaur of a species new to science.

The Hope Diamond in its new temporary setting.

The Hope Diamond

Exhibit: Permanent.

The Hope Diamond, is on display in The Harry Winston Gallery. To learn more, visit the Smithsonian Channel's website for the documentary, “Mystery of the Hope Diamond”.

PLEASE NOTE: The Hope Diamond will be off view from Jan. 4 through March 15, 2016 due to hall renovation work. It will be back on exhibit every day from March 16 through April 17, 2016. It will be available only on Fridays and weekends from April 18 through June 30, 2016. The diamond will return to permanent display July 1, 2016.

Rendering of Butterfly exhibit

Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution

Exhibit: Permanent

Beginning Monday, January 11 the Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Zoo will be temporarily closed for annual maintenance and repairs. We will be reopening to the public on Monday, February 1.

This immersive exhibit explores the processes and patterns of evolution, and provides our visitors with an exciting new kind of experience in the Museum of Natural History - a walk-through living butterfly house. We will invite visitors to observe the many ways in which butterflies and other animals have evolved, adapted, and diversified together with their plant partners over tens of millions of years.Artist rendering of Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution

Carmen Lucia ruby

The Carmen Lúcia Ruby

Exhibit: Permanent

This spectacular 23.1 carat Burmese ruby was recently donated to the Museum by Peter Buck in memory of his late wife, Carmen Lúcia Buck. Mined from the fabled Mogok region of Burma, the ruby possesses a richly saturated homogenous red color combined with an exceptional degree of transparency.

Earth from space

The Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals

Exhibit: Permanent

Explore the museum's unparalleled specimens of gems, minerals, rocks and meteorites. Highlights include the Hope Diamond, the National Gem Collection, the Mine and Rocks Galleries, the Plate Tectonics Gallery and the Moon, Meteorites and the Solar System Gallery.


Korea Gallery

Exhibit: Indefinite

This new exhibition presents Korea's millennia of history and its distinctive culture through ceramics, paintings, textiles and sculptures, ranging from the 6th century B.C. to the 21st century. Thematic areas of the exhibit include: Korean ceramics, Honoring family, The Korean wedding, Hangeul (the Korean writing system), Korea's natural and built landscapes, Koreans overseas, and Korea's visual arts today.Tiger, magpie, pine, and sacred fungus. Late 19th century.

Osteology: Hall of Bones

Osteology: Bone Hall

Exhibit: Permanent

Who has bones? Fishes, amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals do. In our Osteology Hall you can observe a variety of vertebrate skeletons grouped by their evolutionary relationships. You can compare a human and gorilla, bone for bone. Count the number of neck vertebrae in a human and a giraffe. Observe skeletal features that are unique to reptiles or to fish.

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper (Romalea guttata)

The O. Orkin Insect Zoo

Educational Facility: Permanent

Beginning Monday, January 11 the Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Zoo will be temporarily closed for annual maintenance and repairs. We will be reopening to the public on Monday, February 1.

Visitors can observe live insects and other arthropods at the O. Orkin Insect Zoo. Volunteers conduct tarantula feeding demonstrations, work with live insects, and answer questions about the many-legged creatures that live in the Insect Zoo.

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