National Museum of Natural History

The National Museum of Natural History, located on 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, was designed by architects Hornblower and Marshall. Opening in 1910, it was the first to be built on the north side of the National Mall in DC. The main building contains over 1.5 million square feet of exhibition space, where there are over 125 million specimens and artifacts within the Museum. The second most popular in the Smithsonian complex of museums, it attracts thousands of visitors, educators, scientists, and students to the largest collection of natural history in the world. The professional staff of over 185 natural history scientists have explored the far corners of the world and compiled their knowledge and research in the study of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, and meteorites. From the deserts of Africa and Asia and the depths of the oceans to the Andes Mountains, rain forests of South America, and the volcanoes of Mexico, the Museum staff has traced evolution and civilization on every continent and in outer space, studying the past, the present, and the future of our planet.

The Museum features collections in every field of science including 30 million insects kept in boxes and four and a half million plants pressed on paper in the herbarium. It has the world’s largest vertebrate zoology collection of amphibians, reptiles, mammals, birds, and fish, with over 650,000 specimens of birds, another seven million fish in jars, and at least another two million artifacts. Permanent and temporary exhibits display everything from butterflies, orchids, and corals to sharks, gemstones, and moon rocks. The permanent Kenneth Behring Hall of Mammals exhibit alone has 274 specimens, and the Dinosaur Hall traces the history of these prehistoric creatures for over 225 million years.

Other attractions at the Museum include displays of the culture and religion of the Sikh people of Punjab, a part of India and Pakistan, the family and their environment in Africa, and the best of nature and wildlife photography, as well as a Korean Gallery of culture and history dating from the 6th to the 21st century, performances by Asian dance groups, and international arts and crafts. Additional interactive resources are available including numerous online exhibits, virtual tours, a discovery room, an insect zoo, and a fossil lab. In addition, there are discover carts stationed in various exhibit rooms, where visitors can meet with museum docents who assist in the interpretation and observation of selected items of interest. Schedules of these events and locations are usually available Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 12 Noon.

Visitors can enjoy other activities at the National History Museum such as 3-D films at the Samuel Johnson IMAX Theater, adults – $8.50, seniors – $7.50, youth – $7.00; live jazz and dining at the Jazz Café, every Friday from 6:00 — 10:00 p.m., $10.00 cover charge.

Hours: 10:00 a.m. — 5:30 p.m. (extended Spring and Summer hours to 7:30 p.m. on specific days. Closed December 25. Admission is Free.
Tours: Free. Tuesday — Friday, 10:30 & 1:30 p.m., entire tour lasts about 75 minutes, but visitors can leave or join at any time.
Dining: Atrium Café, Espresso Bar, Fossil Café, and outdoor food carts.
(Note: Smithsonian Information Center (The Castle), 8:30 a.m. — 5:30 a.m., Ph: 202-633-1000.)

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