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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Tuxtla Statuette Tuxtla Statuette
Mexico, North America

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. The exhibition examines how scientists use Smithsonian collections to enlighten and illuminate our understanding of nature and human culture.


Objects featured in the exhibition include Martha, who was the last known passenger pigeon, and the "Blue Flame," one of the world's largest and finest pieces of gem-quality lapis lazuli. Moreover, some of the objects are celebrated for their value to researchers, such as the Pinniped fossil, one of the earliest members of the group of animals that includes living seals, sea lions and walruses, and the 1875 Tsimshian House Front, one of the best examples of Native Alaskan design artwork. The exhibition also features visually striking displays of exotic wood, tiger cowries, and a remarkable array of insects and tiny deep-sea corals.

Lapis lazuli, beetle, and cowrie shell
Lapis lazuli, beetle, and cowrie shell

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