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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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The Museum holds over 126 million specimens and artifacts from around the world. Yet visitors see only a tiny fraction of them. Scientists from the Museum, government agencies, and institutions around the world use the majority of our collections to carry out scientific research into evolution, biodiversity, human societies, and our relationship with the natural world.

Every object—from the largest dinosaur fossils to microscopic pollen grains—is carefully documented, preserved, and stored in secure, climate controlled conditions in this building and the Museum Support Center in Suitland, Maryland.

Photo from the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Photo from the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Horse–drawn carriage moving the first collections across the National Mall to the new building, ca. 1911.
Photo by Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution
Photo by Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution
The Museum collections now hold over 126 million objects and specimens. The Marine Mollusk Collection (left) is just one part of the Invertebrate Zoology Collections that contain almost 34 million specimens in 30 animal groups, or phyla, including worms, corals, jellyfish, and crustaceans. Scientists from places like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) study collections records to track changes in marine animal populations due to climate change.
The Museum has more pieces of the 4.57 billion–year–old Allende meteorite—the oldest known object on the planet—than any other public collection.

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