Collections at the National Museum of Natural History
We ensure that the 148 million objects in our collections endure for future scientific research and public enjoyment.
The collections at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) are acquired and preserved to serve the Smithsonian’s mission to increase knowledge. They are held in trust for research, exhibition, education, and public enjoyment now and for future generations.
The NMNH represents 90% of the Smithsonian Institution’s collections and forms one of the largest, most comprehensive natural history collection in the world. These collections are crucial tools in understanding the diversity of life on Earth, and the geology and chemistry of our planet and its neighbors in the solar system.
Our collections are special resources that allow the museum to make unique contributions to answering significant scientific questions and responding to national mandates, priorities, and concerns. These collections play a vital role in advancing scientific knowledge, addressing societal issues, and increasing the scientific literacy of our nation. The ongoing and intensive scientific consultation of these reference collections also provides critical information links to other collections throughout the world, establishing the NMNH as an important international user facility.
Search the Collections
The NMNH is proud to offer access to over 9 million of its specimen records online. Approximately 292,000 represent all of the museum's available extant biological primary type specimen records. Of those, 139,000 are paleobiological type specimen records, and 560 are mineral type specimen records. About 1.5 million of these specimen records are georeferenced.
NMNH Collection and Access Policies
The NMNH has multiple policies regarding its use of collections, donation requirements, and access and benefit sharing. Please visit the Policies page for a list of all policies and procedures. Please visit the Shared Stewardship and Ethical Returns page for more information on NMNH's Ethical Stewardship policy.
Facilities and Programs
The NMNH strives to provide state of the art facilities that support our researchers and collections, and promote educational access for the public. Click below for more information on our Museum Support Center, Laboratories of Analytical Biology, and the Biorepository.