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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 currently on view in the new exhibit The Last American Dinosaurs on the second floor of the museum.

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

Upcoming Exhibitions

bands of color from the book Die harmonie der Farben by E. Guichard

Exhibit Cases - Color In A New Light

Location: Ground Floor, Evans Gallery
January 23, 2016 - TBA

Most of us take color for granted. We simply see it the moment that light beams from or reflects off an object, enters our eyes, and is processed by our brains. But do we stop to think what color actually is? Journeying through the collections of the Smithsonian Libraries—from chemistry to catalogs, from colorblind tests to couture—we might see color in a new light.

Collage of creatures found in a cubic foot of the ocean's mid water

Life in One Cubic Foot

Location: First Floor, Sant Ocean Hall Focus Gallery
March 4, 2016 - TBA

What can we discover in just a cubic foot of Earth? As it turns out, a whole lot! Biocubes—the life in a cubic foot of soil or water over one day—capture enough variation to explore the complexity of entire ecosystems. Through this interactive exhibition, enter the small worlds of biocuces with Smithsonian researchers and other scientists as they investigate a range of marine biocubes to uncover amazingly complex relationships and important lessons for the future of our planet.

New Exhibits

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

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.

African elephant

African Elephant

Location: First Floor, Rotunda
Exhibit: Permanent

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Highlighted Permanent Exhibitions

The Hope Diamond in its new temporary setting.

The Hope Diamond

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.

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: 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.

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

Virtual Exhibitions

grass growing in soil

Dig It! The Secrets of Soil

A new virtual exhibit that journeys into the skin of the earth and explores the amazing world of soil. This web site is a virtual exploration of the Dig It! traveling exhibition now on display at the National Museum of Natural History. Completely familiar yet largely unknown, soils help sustain virtually every form of life on Earth. Dig It! transports visitors to the world of fungi, bacteria, worms, and countless other organisms. The online exhibit includes educational activities and teacher resources.

Losing Paradise: Endangered Plants Here and Around the World

Explore the beauty and diversity of the world’s endangered plants through forty-five works of art by member artists of the American Society of Botanical Artists. Learn about the Museum’s efforts to help plant conservationists determine which plant species are threatened. Find out how botanical illustration supports the scientific work of the Museum’s Botany Department.

Imagery of a spiral galaxy and another galaxy behind it

The Evolving Universe

Take a mind-bending journey with us from present-day Earth to the far reaches of space and the distant past—back to the beginning of the universe. Explore how stars and galaxies—even the universe itself—change from birth to maturity to death, much like living things on Earth. Full color photographs capture the awe-inspiring beauty of the cosmos as seen through high-powered terrestrial and orbiting telescopes. This exhibition is a collaborative effort with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

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