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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 museum on the first floor via The Rex Room, which is on display through October 20, 2014. A new dinosaur exhibit The Last American Dinosaurs will open to the public on the second floor in the Fall of 2014.

For more information about the National Fossil Hall renovations or our current or upcoming dinosaur exhibits, please visit http://naturalhistory.si.edu/fossil-hall.

Upcoming Exhibitions

An illustration of passenger pigeons and other extinct North American birds

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

2013 Nature's Best Photography
Windland Smith Rice International Awards

Location: Second Floor
October 24, 2014 - April 20, 2015

Witness nature and wildlife through the eyes of some of the most talented amateur and professional photographers. Over 20,000 photographs from around the world were submitted to this annual juried competition. Approximately 60 winning large-format images and photographer stories bring the beauty, power, and humor of our natural world from the wild to the walls of the Smithsonian.

More upcoming exhibits >>

New Exhibits

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 - June 2015

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.

REX logo of T-Rex skull profile and the word REX


Location: First Floor Special Exhibits Gallery (Off the Rotunda in Mammals Hall)
April 15, 2014-October 20, 2014

Thanks to a 50-year loan from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a spectacular real T. rex specimen will arrive at the Museum on April 15, 2014. This T. rex will be one of the stars of our new National Fossil Hall which opens in 2019. Before it can go in the new exhibit, the Nation’s T. rex needs special care over the next five years. Come visit the Rex Room to see us studying, conserving, photographing, and 3D scanning its bones – and dozens of other fossils being prepared for the new exhibition. Visitors can look inside to see what our team is working on today!

Female dancer in traditional outfit

Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation

Location: Second Floor, Special Exhibits Gallery
Opens February 27 - August 16, 2015

"Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation" is a groundbreaking exhibition exploring the vibrant heritage, daily experience, and diverse political, professional and cultural contributions of Indian Americans in shaping the United States. From workers who built some of the first railroads in the West to the creator of Hotmail, Beyond Bollywood explores the history of sub-continental Indian immigration to America. Told through captivating images, music, visual art, and first-person narratives, Beyond Bollywood documents a history of discrimination, resistance, achievements and the lasting influence Indian Americans have had on the American experience.

Female dancer in traditional outfit

Unintended Journeys

Location: Second Floor, Special Exhibits Gallery
February 7 - August 13, 2014

Images by Magnum Photos photographers examine the plight of environmental refugees, especially those displaced within the last decade due to natural disasters and global climate change. The exhibition reveals the challenges these people and communities face, as well as their continued resilience in the face of adversity.

A gobi fish peering out from within the opening of a submerged soda can

Portraits of Planet Ocean: The Photography of Brian Skerry

Location: Sant Ocean Hall, Focus Gallery
September 17, 2013 - 2015 (TBA)

Portraits of Planet Ocean Award-winning photojournalist Brian Skerry takes us on an underwater journey to explore the mystery and beauty of marine life and environments. His work has been featured in magazines such as Smithsonian, National Geographic, Audubon, People, and Sports Illustrated. Twenty captivating photographs celebrate the vitality and diversity of our resilient, though imperiled, ocean. Visitors are invited to submit their own ocean images. Select photos will be selected regularly for displayed in a section of the exhibit.

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.

Genome: Unlocking Life's Code

Genome: Unlocking Life's Code

Location: Second Floor, Special Exhibits Gallery
June 14, 2013 - September 1, 2014

Inside every living thing on Earth—including you—is the complete set of instructions needed for an organism to grow and function.  The instructions are written in the twisting, ladder-shaped molecule known as DNA packed into the nucleus of almost all your cells. Scientists have identified thousands of genes that contribute to disease and begun to unlock the secrets of cancer, opening the way to more personalized healthcare. They’ve traced our ancestors’ migrations across the world and begun to sequence and compare all the species on our planet.

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”.

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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