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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 Exhibits

A narwhal head and tusk emerging from ice covered waters

Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend

Location: First Floor
August 3, 2017 - TBD 2019

The enigmatic narwhal and its unique spiral tooth have inspired art, legend, and cultural practices for centuries. Deeper study of this animal is now revealing traditional and scientific knowledge that helps us understand these animals and the changing Arctic more completely. This exhibit takes a deep dive into the narwhal's Arctic world to explore what makes this mysterious animal—and its changing ecosystem—so distinctive and important.

New Exhibits

An iridescent blue Roman glass vessel and a blue Morpho butterfly

Objects of Wonder: From the Collections of the National Museum of Natural History

Location: Second Floor
March 10, 2017 - TBD 2019

Museum collections reflect our amazing world, inspire wonder, and form the foundation for scientific discovery. Explore the breadth, scope and splendor of the world's most extensive natural history research collection—more than 145 million artifacts and specimens, including many exceptional objects rarely seen by the public.

Current Special Exhibits

A close up profile of a fox with its mouth wide open with a curled tongue

The 21st Annual Nature's Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards Exhibition

Location: Second Floor
October 19, 2016 – September, 2017

See Nature at its Best. Nature photographers travel the globe and brave the elements to create images that transport us into the natural world. The 21st annual exhibition presents 83 fine art prints accompanied by an HD video. Extraordinary talent is recognized through the Nature's Best Photography Awards photo competition named for nature photographer and conservationist, Windland Smith Rice. Join us on this public journey from the wild to the walls of the Smithsonian.

The National Park Service logo superimposed over a landscape image of Big Bend National Park.

100 Years of America's National Park Service: Preserve, Enjoy, Inspire

Location: Second Floor
August 4, 2016 - August 2017

The National Park Service turns 100 this year! To celebrate, the National Park Service has teamed up with the National Museum of Natural History to present over 50 images by award‐winning photographers, showcasing the majesty, diversity, and importance of America's national parks. Explore stories and snapshots from monuments and historic sites, battlefields and picturesque natural scenes from lakeshores and seashores to trails and preserves where both wildlife and people come together. The exhibition also shares stories of how the museum and the National Park Service have collaborated throughout their shared histories to preserve America’s cherished natural and cultural heritage sites and treasures for future generations to experience forever.

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, 2018

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.

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.

Highlighted Permanent and Long Term Exhibitions

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.

The Hope Diamond in its new temporary setting.

The Hope Diamond

Exhibit: Permanent.

See one of the world's most legendary gems. The Hope Diamond, is on display in The Harry Winston Gallery.

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.

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.

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.

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