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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Since before the Museum opened its doors in 1910, our scientists have traveled to every corner of the globe–from the Arctic to the tropics, from ocean floor to mountain peak, in treetops and deep in caves, on remote islands and in modern cities–to collect cultural artifacts and natural specimens.

Unanswered questions about the world continue to inspire our staff. Ongoing discoveries in the field offer insights into the formation of our planet, the evolution of life, and the diversity of human cultures.

Photo from the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Botanist Agnes Chase on a scientific expedition to study grasses in Brazil, 1929
Photo from the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Agnes Chase was a botanist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and an honorary curator of the U.S. National Herbarium, then housed in the Smithsonian Castle. Chase often personally financed her early field research, because it was considered inappropriate for women to conduct such work. She worked at the Herbarium for 60 years and was considered the world’s expert on grasses.
Photo from the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Photo from the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Scientific illustrator, Mary Parrish, often travels with Museum researchers to document the color, shape, and movement of living organisms. Here she is illustrating corals underwater near the Smithsonian’s Carrie Bow Cay laboratory off the coast of Belize (1984).
Today, Museum scientists do field research in over 80 countries annually.

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