The Department of Entomology at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History holds one of the finest insect collections in the world. The official abbreviation for citing this museum as a repository is USNM, which stems from the museum's original name, the United States National Museum. While the collection is administered by the Smithsonian Institution, research and curation is conducted by scientists from four separate U.S. government agencies:
- the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History;
- the Systematic Entomology Laboratory (SEL) of the Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture;
- the National Identification Service (NIS), part of the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), U.S. Department of Agriculture;
- and the Walter Reed Biosystematic Unit (WRBU) of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, U.S. Department of Defense.
The responsibilities for curation and loan requests are divided among the four agencies. To obtain a loan or other information about the collections, please refer to the current list of contact people available below.
The Entomology collections are accessible to qualified scientists and graduate students with stated research objectives and are not available for public tours.
Scientists and graduate students wishing to conduct research in the Department of Entomology should contact the appropriate staff member well in advance of your anticipated arrival to make arrangements for your visit. Advanced notice is critical to ensure availability of the collections, the workspace and any laboratory equipment you may require.
Visitors to the Department of Entomology may expect general laboratory equipment and library support but should bring a personal laptop, due to a shortage of visitor computers.
The National Museum of Natural History is located on the National Mall in Washington, DC., and is within a short walk of three Metro rail stations and a number of bus stops. Onsite parking is not available at the downtown museum, but there are a number of commercial parking garages within 5 blocks of the museum.
The museum has two entrances, one on the south side of the building facing the National Mall and one on the north side facing Constitution Avenue. For your first visit, please use the north entrance at 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW (Google Map link). The closest Metro stations to this entrance are:
- Blue, Orange, and Silver lines - Federal Triangle
- Red line - Metro Center
- Green and Yellow lines - Navy Archives
At the North entrance, use the doors on the left labeled ‘‘Staff’’ and proceed to the security officer in the lobby. Mention to the security officer that you are going to visit the Department of Entomology and he or she will direct you to the security office in the right-hand corner of the lobby. A security officer will call your contact person who will come down to pick you up and get your visitor pass set-up.