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The World’s Leading Museum and Research Complex

Explore more than 125 million natural science specimens and cultural artifacts in the National Museum of Natural History during a Washington, DC bus tour.

Opened in March of 1910, the green-domed building was the first Smithsonian building to be exclusively constructed for national collections and research facilities. At 1.5 million square feet, it not only has 325 square feet of exhibition and public space, but is also home to the largest group of professional natural history scientists dedicated to the study of natural and cultural history in the world.

The world’s leading museum and research complex is dedicated to inspiring curiosity and discovery and teaching its visitors about the world through its research, collections and exhibitions. Whether you want to delve into the rich history and cultures of Africa or discover the beauty of rare gemstones like Hope Diamond, engaging exhibitions will enlighten you during your four hour, self-guided tour at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. 

Smithsonian Museum Natural History Washington DC

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian Museum Natural History Washington DC Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

Over 125 Million Natural Science Specimens and Cultural Artifacts

Collections
From the precious Gems and Minerals to the Amphibians and Reptiles, discover millions of unique artifacts throughout the museum’s galleries.
 
Kenneth E. Behring Family Hall of Mammals 
Showcasing over 270 mammals, the Family Hall of Mammals allows you to see where mammals originated and how they adapted to changing landscapes over a span of 225 million years.
 
Fossil Mammals: Mammals in the Limelight
Discover the spectacular evolution of mammals as the dominant class of vertebrates after the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. In the Fossil Mammals: Mammals in the Limelight, four murals painted by Jay Matternes, Robert Hynes and John Gurche re-create scenes of animal and plant life. Mounted skeletons assembled from fossils found in the American West can also be seen in the foreground.
 
Dinosaurs: Reptiles—Masters of Land
In Dinosaurs: Reptiles-Masters of Land see dinosaur bones found during past digs. At 90 feet long, Diplodocus longus was founded in Utah in 1923 and is the focal point of the exhibit. Tyrannosaurus rex is 40 feet long and still fearsome after 65 million years.  Triceratops, named “Hatcher” in honor of John Bell Hatcher, the man who discovered the original fossil in Wyoming in 1891, is placed facing his rival T. rex and has related species around him to reveal the evolution and diversity of the ceratopsian dinosaur group.
 
Osteology Hall of Bones
In the Osteology Hall of Bones you can observe a variety of vertebrate skeletons grouped by their evolutionary relationship. Compare a human and gorilla bone for bone, or observe skeletal features unique to reptiles and fish. 
 
 
Early Life: Earliest Traces of Life
The Early Life: Earliest Traces of Life exhibit presents natural history scientists’ views on the origin and early evolution of human life. See the oldest fossil, a cabbage-sized, 3.5-billion-year-old algal mat and some of the earliest animal fossils that have been discovered.
 
The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins: What Does It Mean To Be Human?
Discover the story of how human species evolved over the years backed by fossils, artifacts and interactive experiences. The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins examines the shared framework of humankind, the biological and cultural history we share and the differences that exist and preoccupy us today.
 
Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals
While Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall features 2,500 gems and minerals including the Hooker Emerald Brooch and the Star of Asia sapphire, most individuals come to see the Hope Diamond. Situated in the Harry Winston Gallery, the rare, dark- blue diamond was donated to the Smithsonian by Harry Winston in 1958 and while it may not be the world’s largest diamond, its beauty, magic and mystery attracts individuals from all over the world. 
 
The Sant Ocean Hall
In this one-of-a-kind interpretive exhibit, the complexity of the ocean is revealed through a cross-disciplinary perspective. The museum’s largest exhibit with 674 marine specimens and models and a high-definition video allow you to explore the past, present and future of the ocean.
 
Butterflies+ Plants 
Get an up-close look at how butterflies and plants have evolved and diversified together for millions of years as you walk among hundreds of live butterflies and pesticide-free plants in the Butterfly Pavilion.
 
O. Orkin Insect Zoo 
See a variety of insects like termites, water bugs and bees as you learn about insects and their relationship with plants, animals and humans in the O. Orkin Insects Zoo. 
 
African Voices
Examine the diversity, dynamism and global influence of the African people’s culture in the African Voices exhibit. Both historical and contemporary objects from the museum’s collection explore the realms of family, work, community and the natural environment.
 
Korea Gallery
Korea Gallery represents Korea’s millennia of history. Delight in Korean ceramics, paintings, textiles and sculptures. Ranging from the 6th century B.C. to the 21st century, the objects in the collection paint a beautiful picture of Korea’s distinct culture. 
 

Dining

After you’ve explored the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, refuel in one of the museum’s eateries. Boasting the finest foods made with delicious, local and organic ingredients, try all natural smoked quarter chicken, hormone free BBQ Pork or house made macaroni and cheese at the Atrium Café. If you’re looking for lighter options Fossil Café offers gourmet sandwiches, fresh salads, organic fruit, beer and soft drinks. If you have a sweet tooth, Café Natural offers ice cream, homemade desserts and specialty coffees.