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Losing Paradise exhibit illustration by Kim Silene
Rescued miner kissing loved one.

Against All Odds: Rescue at the Chilean Mine

Exhibit: August 5, 2011 – September 30, 2012

Last fall, the world watched as rescuers in Chile ferried 33 miners to safety after nearly two months trapped in a collapsed mine. See an actual rescue capsule in a special temporary exhibit featuring the complex rescue effort and the miners’ story. New video footage, mementos from the miners, and rock samples from the mine help take you to the scene of this dramatic event.

Ainu exhibit graphic

Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People

In 1999, the National Museum of Natural History opened a major exhibition to explore the ancient origin of the Ainu, their evolving relations with the Japanese, and the 20th century Ainu cultural rebirth.

Pearls from The Allure of Pearls exhibition. (c) Smithsonian Institution

The Allure of Pearls

Among the first gems known to early humans, our attraction to pearls is timeless. Twelve of the rarest pearls in the world were on public display together for the first time in The Allure of Pearls exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History, from March 18 through Sept. 5, 2005.

Mural of ancient sea creatures and fossil

Life in the Ancient Seas

Exhibit: May 18, 1990 - October 21, 2013
Location: First Floor, Hall of Paleobiology

This twenty-three-year-old exhibit will be closing in preparation for the extensive, multi-year renovation of the Fossil Halls. Now is your last chance to see fantastic marine fossils telling the story of evolution and extinction in the seas. Among the approximately 2,000 fossils on exhibit are the Zygorhiza (early whale) and the ichthyosaur (early swimming reptile). To bring these creatures to life, the exhibition features a series of murals showing the fleshed-out animals these fossils once were and a full-scale diorama of a 250-million-year-old reef made of more than 100,000 models.


The new exhibition is currently scheduled to open in 2019.

The Victoria Falls, Zambesi River. sketched on the spot by Thomas Baines. London, Day & Son, limited, lithographers & publishers, 1865.

The Art of African Exploration

Two new exhibit cases offer a unique glimpse into African exploration as seen through the eyes of Westerners, and told through the experiences of artists, travelers and scientists who explored the continent in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Highlighting the imagery that emerged during that time, the display paints a spirited picture of African exploration. The public was enthralled by exciting adventure stories, unfamiliar landscapes, and the stark challenges of travel in unknown lands, while scientists discovered, observed and described a wealth of previously unknown species.

Click to visit Change is in the Air!

Atmosphere: Change is in the Air

An exciting exhibition that explored Earth's atmosphere - an invisible skin that surrounds Earth and makes it habitable. From Earth's early evolution to the planet's modern climate, Earth's atmosphere affects This web exhibit is based on the compelling temporary exhibit, Change is in the Air, produced by the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum and on display until November 2006. Includes flash interactives, videos, and educational materials.

Polar bear on ice

Arctic: A Friend Acting Strangely

This web site incorporates images and information from the Arctic: A Friend Acting Strangely exhibition developed by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, which was on display at the Museum through November 2006.

Female dancer in traditional outfit

Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation

Location: Second Floor, Special Exhibits Gallery
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.

Singer photograph of Wild ginger (Hedychium longicornutum)

Botanica Magnifica

Exhibit Case

Photographer Jonathan Singer captures the essence of plant form, color, and texture in his large-format images, enhancing the viewer’s appreciation of the complexity of the botanical world.  Focusing on images from the Smithsonian’s living plant collections, the photographer donated the first set of this monumental work to the Smithsonian’s Department of Botany and the Smithsonian Libraries.  Ground floor lobby (a single image in the SI Libraries exhibition case).  The complete five-volume work is held in a research library behind the scenes. For further information and appointments to see the book, please call in advance: (202) 633-1184.  Singer photograph of Wild ginger (Hedychium longicornutum)

The Natural History Museum under construction in the early 1900s. (c) Smithsonian Institution

Celebrating 100 Years at the National Museum of Natural History

Location: Second Floor
Exhibit: May 29, 2010 – March 20, 2011

The Natural History Building first opened its doors to the public on March 17, 1910. The Museum celebrates its 100th birthday with a special exhibition featuring archival and modern photographs highlighting many facets of this building-its people, collections, exhibitions, and outreach throughout the years. Photographs both old and new give snapshots of life and work at the Museum over the past 100 years.

by Emeline Prince, Aquarium of the Pacific, First Place

Coastal America Ocean Art Contest

Location: Ground Floor
Exhibit: December 8, 2008 - March 29, 2009

To celebrate the opening of the Sant Ocean Hall, the Museum will be displaying the winners of the “Ocean Art Contest,” sponsored by Coastal America. The contest, conducted by Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers throughout the United States and in Mexico, drew hundreds of entries—paintings, drawings, photographs and collages—from kindergarteners through college students. Each original work of art was accompanied by an essay on one of seven essential principles of ocean literacy. Winners were selected based on the visual impact, communication of the principle, and artistic merit of their work.

Limestone statuette of a male figure, 600–550 BC

Cyprus: Crossroads of Civilizations

Location: Second Floor, Hall 23
Exhibit: September 29, 2010 – May 1, 2011

Located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the island of Cyprus has been a crossroads of civilizations for over 11,000 years. Explore the history of Cyprus—a story of East meeting West, of discovery, struggle, loss, and achievement—through a rich collection of antiquities, most of which are traveling outside the country for the first time. Discover the ways in which the human endeavor has shaped and is shaped by the natural environment of this Mediterranean jewel.Limestone statuette of a male figure, 600–550 BC

Plate 12. Amblyrynchus demarlii (Galápagos land iguana, now called Conolophus subcristatus) from The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, under the command of Captain Robert FitzRoy, R.N., during the years 1832 to 1836. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin

Darwin's Legacy

Location: Ground Floor, Constitution Avenue Lobby Cases
Exhibit: September 10, 2009 – October 17, 2010

November 2009 marks the 150th anniversary of the 1859 publication of Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking On the Origin of Species.  His theory of evolution by natural selection grew out of his work as a naturalist aboard the H.M.S. Beagle on a five year journey around South America and the Galápagos Islands. Darwin’s theory soon found supporters at the Smithsonian, including Joseph Henry, the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and it continues to guide research at the National Museum of Natural History.

Octopus. Photo by David Shale

Deeper Than Light

Location: First Floor, Sant Ocean Hall, Ocean Focus Gallery
Exhibit: February 20 - May 23, 2010

Dive in and experience the world of the deep sea in this international traveling exhibition from the Bergen Museum, University of Bergen, Norway. In 2004, curiosity drove a team of scientists on the Norwegian research vessel G.O. Sars to study the vast, unexplored depths of the north Atlantic Ocean. What lives there? How do they survive? How do they interact? How can we protect them? This exhibition follows the scientists' journey into this relatively undiscovered world through art, images, models and multimedia.

grass growing in soil

Dig It! The Secrets of Soil

Location: Second Floor
Exhibit: Closing January 10, 2010

Visitors to the Museum will journey into the skin of the earth and explore the amazing world of soils in Dig It! The Secrets of Soil. Completely familiar yet largely unknown, soils help sustain virtually every form of life on Earth. Dig It! will transport visitors to the world of fungi, bacteria, worms, and countless other organisms. Visitors will discover the amazing connections between soils and everyday life and think about this hidden world in a whole new way.

Discovering Rastafari!

Discovering Rastafari!

Exhibit: November 2, 2007 - November 16, 2011

Using artifacts, rare photographs, and ephemera to explore the origins and religious practices of the movement in Jamaica, this exhibition takes viewers beyond the popular Jamaican music known as reggae to the deeper roots of the Rastafari culture. Video footage featuring first-person testimony from male and female Rastafari of different ages, nationalities, and racial and class backgrounds speak to Rastafari of unity and to the spread of the movement across the Caribbean and beyond over the past three decades.

Trade beads

Emissaries of Peace: The 1762 Cherokee & British Delegations

Emissaries of Peace: The 1762 Cherokee and British Delegations presents vivid images of Cherokee and British society in the eighteenth century, as seen through the eyes of the British lieutenant and diarist Henry Timberlake and of three Cherokee leaders who accompanied Timberlake to England to meet King George III.

Ethnobotany case

Ethnobotany in the American Southwest and Mexico

This exhibit illustrated the historical and cultural importance of plants to residents of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico over the past 100 years and the critical value of historic museum collections in preserving the ethnobotanical heritage of the local communities of these regions. Bilingual (Spanish/English).

Weaver ant (Oecophylla smaragdina). Photo by Mark Moffett

Farmers, Warriors, Builders: The Hidden Life of Ants

Did you know that some ants grow their own food, just like farmers?  Or that other ants build highways that can be seen from the air?  Or that large ant colonies go to war with each other?  Get a look at life from an ant’s point of view with large-format photographs of ants going about their daily business, a cast of an underground ant city, and a live ant colony.

Yellow Warbler

Exhibit Case - Fascinating -- Endangered RHINO

Location: Ground Floor, Constitution Ave. Lobby, Cases on the East & West Sides
July 14, 2012 - April 28, 2013

Thousands of species -- plant and animal -- are disappearing every year; one of the most endangered is the rhinoceros. The Smithsonian Libraries participates in a global effort dedicated to the survival of endangered species and their habitats. On display in this case are examples of books from the Libraries, most from the Russell E. Train Africana Collection, Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, that support and enhance research in conservation biology.

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.

Micronesian outrigger with US research vessel Albatross, National Anthropological Archives

Going to Sea

What compels us to go to sea? Some would say adventure, recreation, or even inspiration. But for many cultures, the ocean is a necessity—an essential resource that provides both jobs and food. Going to Sea, the debut exhibit in the Sant Ocean Hall's changing exhibit gallery, explores how and why people venture into the sea. The exhibit contrasts early ocean exploration and navigation techniques with the cutting edge modern science, and examines the connections between human culture and the sea including literature, art, and mythology.

Looking Both Ways

Looking Both Ways: Heritage and Identity of the Alutiiq People

This traveling exhibition was produced by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in collaboration with the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository in Kodiak, Alaska. The participation of Alutiiq Elders, advisors, and communities was essential to its creation. Quyanásinaq to all who gave so generously of their time and knowledge.

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.

Kamsa Apprentice

The Lost Amazon

Journey into the Colombian Amazon through the photographs and quotations of naturalist, Richard Evans Schultes. Schultes explored lands where no naturalists had ever been before. His photographs evoke an era when the tropical rainforests stood immense, and the peoples of the forest relied on plants for sustenance as well as medicinal and religious purposes.

Mexican Cycles detail image

Mexican Cycles: Festival Images by George O. Jackson de Llano.

Featuring 150 color photographs of the religious festivals of Indigenous communities from across Mexico, taken between 1990 and 2001 by the Texas-based photographer George O. Jackson de Llano. The exhibition provides an unparalleled view of the diversity of Indigenous Mexican festivals at the turn of the 21st century and of the complex interaction of Indigenous and European religious traditions out of which these festivals emerged.© George O. Jackson de Llano

A colorized imaging scan of a worm.

More Than Meets the Eye

Location: First Floor, Special Exhibits Gallery
Exhibit: July 23, 2011 – November 4, 2012

You can learn quite a bit about the world by simply observing your surroundings carefully. But scientists at the National Museum of Natural History rely on special tools, skills, and technologies to examine the world’s diversity of life and culture up close and in much greater detail. Explore the world alongside our scientists as they use their super-powered vision to observe, document, and analyze the natural world and global cultures.

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.

A close-up of a green frog with blue and orange eyes staring directly at the viewer

2012 Nature's Best Photography
Windland Smith Rice International Awards

Location: First Floor, Special Exhibits Gallery
Opens June 7, 2013 -March 4, 2014

Celebrate nature through the art of photography that brings wildlife up close and personal! More than 20,000 images from photographers around the globe were judged in the annual competition to select these stunning portraits of animals, plants, ocean life, and landscapes. The collection of 48 award-winning, large-format prints combines art with science and technology to take you on a photographic journey from the wild to the walls of the Smithsonian.

Photo of a bear with its paw over one eye

2011 Nature's Best Photography
Windland Smith Rice International Awards

Location: Second Floor
March 30, 2012 - April 7, 2013

Celebrate nature through the art of photography that brings wildlife up close and personal! More than 20,000 images from photographers around the globe were judged in the annual competition to select these stunning portraits of animals, plants, ocean life, and landscapes. The collection of 48 award-winning, large-format prints combines art with science and technology to take you on a photographic journey from the wild to the walls of the Smithsonian.

Cheetah mother gently licking the head of her cub

Natures Best Photography Awards 2010

Location: Second Floor
Exhibit: April 16 – September 25, 2011

On view are winners from the 2010 Nature's Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards, including the Grand Prize, Conservation Photographer of the Year, Youth Photographer of the Year, and selected Highly Honored images. The annual awards honor the best amateur and professional nature photographers from around the world. These stunning portraits of plants, animals, and people celebrate the beauty of nature, while recognizing the importance of environmental stewardship.

Cougar, Winner, Zoos and Aquariums

Nature's Best Photography Show 2009

Location: Second Floor
Exhibit: November 12, 2009 - May 2, 2010

On view will be winners in 19 categories from the 2009 Nature's Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards, including the Grand Prize, Conservation Photographer of the Year, Youth Photographer of the Year, and selected Highly Honored images. The annual awards honor the best amateur and professional nature photographers from around the world

(c) David Maitland

Nature's Best Photography 2008 Awards Exhibit

Location: Second Floor
Exhibit: November 8, 2008 – May 3, 2009

Wildlife, up close and personal! Meet rare endangered species, and see indigenous cultures living in some of the harshest climates on Earth. The Nature’s Best Photography 2008 Windland Smith Rice International Awards exhibit features 45 photographs that bring nature to life. These stunning portraits of plants, animals, and people celebrate the beauty of nature while recognizing the importance of environmental stewardship. (c) David Maitland

Mandarin duck by Russ Burden

Nature's Best Photography: Windland Smith Rice International Awards

Sixty award-winning images from the annual Nature's Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards competition are displayed. Also featured are photos by the Conservation Photographer of the Year, Howard Ruby.

Nature's Best

Nature’s Best: Experience Nature Through the Art of Photography

The images displayed in this exhibition represent selected winners from the 2006 Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards and the National Wildlife Photography Awards competitions. Join us in celebrating this unique blend of artistic creativity, natural history, and leading photographic and print technology.

sea lions

Ocean Views

The ocean is the very essence of life. All life depends on it, we enjoy it, yet we often understand little about this vast and important environment. Ocean Views is a dramatic photographic exhibit that will give visitors new insights into ocean life and motivate them to celebrate, embrace, and protect this fragile world. 

An illustration of passenger pigeons and other extinct North American birds

20th Annual Orchid Exhibition: Interlocking Science and Beauty

Location: First Floor, Special Exhibits Hall (by the Mammals Hall)
January 24 - April 26, 2015

The Smithsonian's popular exhibit of live orchids is back again in 2015. Presented every two years at the National Museum of Natural History, this year's theme explores how new ideas and inventions change the way we study, protect, and enjoy orchids. Come see and smell the amazing and beautiful world of orchids in this limited three month engagement! Presented in partnership with Smithsonian Gardens.

Orchids of Latin America

Location: First Floor, Special Exhibits Gallery
January 26, 2013 - April 21, 2013

Want to stroll through a tropical rainforest on a cold winters’ day? Drink in a fragrant orchid? The 2013 orchid exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History, Orchids of Latin America, will explore the rich crossroads where orchid botany, horticulture, and Latin American cultures meet. Featuring orchids from the Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection, the exhibit looks at the importance of orchids in Latin American folklore and cultural traditions, explores how that region is a hotbed for scientific research on orchid biology and evolution, and highlights conservation efforts to preserve them and their habitats for future generations.

Orchids - A View from the East

Orchids - A View from the East

Location: First Floor, Special Exhibits Gallery
Exhibit: January 29 – April 24, 2011

For centuries, the people of China have revered, cultivated, and collected orchids for cultural and social uses—as décor for their homes, medicines, artistic subjects, and social status symbols. Cultural traditions and horticultural practices testify to the enduring power of orchids on the human imagination. Visitors will be surrounded by the sights and smells of live orchids as they explore Chinese love of this enchanting plant, both ancient and modern.

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 - October 4, 2015

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.

Orchid. Illustrated by Kim Moeller (c) Smithsonian Institution

Orchids through Darwin’s Eyes

Location: First Floor
Exhibit: January 24, 2009 – April 26, 2009

Charles Darwin used orchids to help prove his theories of natural selection and evolution. Scientists today follow in Darwin’s footsteps and use orchids to learn more about how plants have evolved and adapted to live in almost every type of environment around the world. Come explore the alluring world of orchids through the eyes of Darwin. Discover new insights and curious surprises about these captivating plants, including the only orchid fossil ever discovered! This exhibit has been developed in partnership with the Smithsonian's Horticultural Services Division, Smithsonian's Office of Exhibits Central, and the US Botanic Gardens.

A face made up of a collage of different parts of faces from individuals with varied physical features.

Race: Are We So Different?

Location: Second Floor
Exhibit: June 18, 2011 – January 8, 2012

Race is a short word with a long history in America. What is race and how are we affected by it every day? Race: Are We So Different? explores the concept of race from scientific, historical, and cultural perspectives. The exhibition offers a powerful look at race and racism, and challenges visitors to ask questions, think critically, and talk about the issue and their own experiences.

Developed by the American Anthropological Association in collaboration with the Science Museum of Minnesota

Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles and Amphibians

Preserved reptiles and amphibians await you around every corner in this hall. Learn about their eating habits, defenses, and locomotion. Reptiles on display include Galapagos marine iguanas, sea turtles, snakes, crocodiles, and lizards.

Robotic glider, Scarlet Knight, moving underwater

Exhibit Case: Scarlet Knight

Location: First Floor, Sant Ocean Hall
One Exhibit Case: December 9, 2010 - Indefinite

This case documents the journey of the autonomous underwater vehicle glider RU27, Scarlet Knight, which followed Christopher Columbus’ path as he returned to Spain from New Jersey. An 8-foot AUV that glides through the sea, the Scarlet Knight made history as the first submersible robot to successfully cross the Atlantic Ocean.

Darwin's Hawaiian Honeycreepers. Photo by John Steiner (c) Smithsonian Institution

Since Darwin: The Evolution of Evolution

Location: First Floor
Exhibit: September 12, 2009 – July 18, 2010

Celebrate with us the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his groundbreaking On the Origin of Species.  This exhibition focuses on the significant role that Darwin’s theories have played in explaining and unifying all the biological sciences.  Specimens from the Museum’s diverse collections, along with documentation from our ongoing research, illustrate the importance of evolution as a scientific foundation, and how our knowledge of evolution has evolved over the last 150 years.

US Airways flight 1549 in the Hudson River. Photo by Janis Krums

Smithsonian Science in the News: Investigating the "Miracle on the Hudson"

Location: Exhibit Case, Ground Floor
Exhibit: February 23, 2009 - May 3, 2009

Less than a minute after taking off from La Guardia Airport on January 15, US Airways flight 1549 collided with a flock of birds. The engines went dead, and the pilot made an emergency landing in the Hudson River, saving everyone on board. The remains of the birds were sent to the CSI of the bird world—the National Museum of Natural History’s Feather Identification Lab. This exhibit case explains how Museum scientists worked with transportation safety experts in this modern aviation mystery.Learn more about the Feather Identification Lab

Titanoboa constricting and devouring an ancient crocodile

Titanoboa: Monster Snake

Location: Second Floor
March 30, 2012 - January 6, 2013

From a Colombian coal mine, scientists uncovered 65-million-year-old remains of the largest snake in the world. Measuring 48 feet long and weighing 2,500 pounds, this massive predator could crush and devour a crocodile! Fossil plants and animals found at the site reveal the earliest known rainforest—the lost world that followed the demise of the dinosaurs. Explore the a full-scale model of Titanoboa and video from the Smithsonian Channel documentary to delve into the discovery, reconstruction, and implications of this enormous reptile.

Collage image of a Congolese man in chains against the backdrop of derelict copper mines

The Beautiful Time

Location: African Voices Hall Focus Gallery
January 7, 2012 – January 6, 2013

Congolese photographer and videographer Sammy Baloji explores the time when the labor of hardworking Congolese built a flourishing copper mining industry in what is now the Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Following independence in the 1960s, this industry suffered greatly under mismanagement by corrupt governments, and this "beautiful time" ended. Baloji’s collages and photographs bring together images from the past and the present day to interrogate the meaning of memory.

Artist Shih Chieh Huang setting up a color-lit art installation

The Bright Beneath: The Luminous Art of Shih Chieh Huang

Location: First Floor, Sant Ocean Hall, Ocean Focus Gallery
September 3, 2011 – January 8, 2012

The artwork of Shih Chieh Huang, 2007 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow, explores the unusual evolutionary adaptations of the mysterious, deep ocean creatures residing in conditions inhospitable for humans. During Huang’s time as a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow, he studied the bioluminescent marine organisms that inspire this art installation. His creations, with their lights, computer parts, and plastic-tube appendages, evoke a sense of wonder and curiosity as they "float" in the darkness of the Museum gallery.

Imagery of a spiral galaxy and another galaxy behind it

The Evolving Universe

Location: Second Floor
October 21, 2011 – July 7, 2013

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.

Hyperbolic crochet jellyfish made from plastic bin liners, by Margaret Wertheim.  Photo copyright The Institute For Figuring by Alyssa Gorelich

The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef

Location: First Floor, Sant Ocean Hall, Ocean Focus Gallery
Exhibit: October 16, 2010 – April 24, 2011

Endless variations evolving over time—much like life itself. The hyperbolic crochet coral reef has grown from the discovery that cutting-edge hyperbolic geometry could be found in the intricate structures of coral reefs and represented though the traditional handicraft of crochet. Experience this homage to the disappearing wonder, beauty, and diversity of living reefs that are threatened by pollution and global warming.

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 22, 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!

The Splendor of Diamonds

The Splendor of Diamonds

In 2003, seven of the most rare and valuable diamonds in the world were displayed together for the first and only time through the collaborative efforts of the Smithsonian Institution, The Steinmetz Group, and the Gemological Institute of America.

Detail of Tiffany Diamond

Tiffany Diamond

The loan of the Tiffany Diamond in 2007 celebrated a newly established endowment from The Tiffany & Co. Foundation. Also on view for the first time were two rare gemstones purchased for the National Gem Collection through this new endowment created by The Tiffany & Co. Foundation gift. Detail of Tiffany Diamond

The Nature of Ingredients, 2006

Transitions: Photographs by Robert Creamer

Surprise your eyes with the arresting detail of Robert Creamer’s high-resolution images, some of which highlight the Museum’s collections. All of the 39 photographs were taken using a flatbed scanner which creates an expanded depth of field. The result is stunning portraits of flowers and mesmerizing collages of flower parts.

Portrait of Carl Linnaeus

A Tribute to Carl Linnaeus

For two days in November 2007, we celebrated the 300th anniversary of the birth of Carl Linnaeus with an exhibit and symposium.

The Truth About Crystal Skulls

The Truth about Crystal Skulls

Handmade by ancient Aztecs? The work of supernatural powers? Or carefully crafted fakes? After decades of mystery, the real nature of crystal skulls is finally clear, thanks to scientists using modern technology to determine how they were made. With the recent opening of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, crystal skulls are in the news this year.  Photo by James DiLoreto (c) Smithsonian Institution

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.


Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga

A traveling exhibition produced by the National Museum of Natural History, is about an extraordinary people who set out from their European homelands for unknown places beyond the horizon, including North America, 1000 years ago.

Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond

A Rare Encounter: Hope Diamond and Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond

Location: Second Floor, Harry Winston Gallery
Exhibit: January 29 - September 1, 2010

Come and see the world's most extraordinary blue diamonds - the Hope and the Wittelsbach-Graff - displayed together for the first time. The Wittelsbach-Graff's deep blue color, flawless clarity, and royal history make it one of the most celebrated gemstones known. Its story goes back over 340 years, and the diamond has not appeared in public for more than 50 years. Both diamonds come from India and share their rare blue color. Could they have come from the same mine? Smithsonian scientists plan to compare the properties of both gems and explore this intriguing possibility.

Solder collectors sitting at a table

Exhibit Case - When Time and Duty Permit: Collecting During WWII

Location: Ground Floor, Constitution Ave. Lobby, Cases on the East & West Sides
July 14, 2012 - April 28, 2013

Learn about the role of the Smithsonian in the Pacific during World War II. In the early days of the conflict, Smithsonian specialists provided information on Pacific geography, natural history, and culture to the American military, as well as a survival manual for all soldiers. As the war progressed, curators recruited soldiers stationed in the Pacific to collect specimens, and at the close of the war, the National Museum of Natural History housed the premier collection on the natural history of the Pacific. Through archival letters, photographs, museum records, specimens, and publications, the history of this era is brought to life.

Silhouette with skeleton

Written in Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th-Century Chesapeake

Location: Second Floor
Exhibit: February 7, 2009 – January 5, 2014

Human anatomy and forensic investigation provide intriguing information on people and events of America's past. This exhibition will examine history through 17th-century bone biographies, including those of colonists teetering on the edge of survival at Jamestown, Virginia, and those of wealthy and well-established individuals of St. Mary’s City, Maryland. At no other time in our history have we had the technological capability or opportunity that are now available to help us tell this tale.

X-ray image of a seahorse

X-Ray Vision: Fish Inside Out

Location: First Floor, Sant Ocean Hall, Ocean Focus Gallery
February 4, 2012 – August 5, 2012

Explore fish evolution and diversity through 40 stunning black-and-white fish x-rays prepared for research purposes by Sandra Raredon, Division of Fishes. The X-rays, each paired with a photograph of the preserved fish specimen and details of its collection, provide insight into the importance of radiography in the scientific study of fish without damaging the specimen.

Kayak model with bird and land-animal designs. L. Brewster, 19030 Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Chris Arend.

Yuungnaqpiallerput (The Way We Genuinely Live)
Masterworks of Yup’ik Science and Survival

Location: Second Floor
Exhibit: April 17, 2010 – July 25, 2010

Yup'ik elders share their scientific and spiritual knowledge for living in the sub-arctic environment of western Alaska in this exhibition of more than 200 19th- and 20th-century tools, clothing, weapons, and watercraft. From harpoons to snow-goggles, and kayaks to dance masks, Yup'ik people devised solutions for living unsurpassed by Western science. Explore how the Yup'ik people discovered these scientific principles that have allowed them to live in intimate relationship with their environment.

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