The National Fish Collection is accessible to qualified scientists and graduate students with stated research objectives and is not available for public tours.
To arrange a visit to our collections or library, please contact our Collection Manager by email at least a month in advance of your anticipated arrival. Walk-ins are not permitted.
The National Collection is open to visitors from 8 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, federal holidays excepted. Due to security policies, we cannot host visitors after hours or on weekends.
The National Fish Collection is divided between the National Museum of Natural History Building (NHB) on the National Mall in downtown Washington, D.C. and the Museum Support Center (MSC) in Suitland, Maryland.
All ethanol preserved specimens, including types and tank specimens are housed at MSC. The osteological and cleared and stained collections, as well as the fishes library are located at NHB. Depending on the focus of your research you may need to visit one or both of our collection facilities.
MSC: The MSC located at 4210 Silver Hill Rd, Suitland, MD is accessible via car, Metro Rail, and shuttle service. Visitor parking is available onsite. The Suitland Metrorail station is a three block walk to the MSC. The Smithsonian also provides free, regular shuttle bus service between MSC and NHB. This shuttle runs from 8am to 5pm and is available to all visitors with proper Smithsonian credentials.
Upon arrival, proceed to the front security desk at the main entrance and sign in. You will receive a visitor's badge and a fishes staff member will escort you to the collections.
NHB: Located at 10th and Constitution Ave, NW, Washington, DC, and within a short walk of three Metro rail stations and bus stops. Three Metro rail stations, Archives, Federal Triangle, and Smithsonian, are a short walk from the Museum. Onsite parking is not available at the downtown museum, but there are a number of commercial parking garages within 5 blocks of the museum.
Upon arriving at NHB, visitors must sign in with the Visitors Services office located in the 10th and Constitution Avenue lobby.
If you plan to handcarry specimens or genetic resources for comparative or analytical purposes we require that you provide us with notification in advance of your arrival. Please be aware that you are liable for following all applicable import/ export laws, access and benefit sharing agreements, and museum warranty policies. You will be responsible for arranging for transport of these materials prior to the end of your visit, including proper packaging for shipment and any applicable export declarations.