Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Photos

National Museum of Natural History elephant exhibit

Smithsonian Institution

The National Museum of Natural History displays more than 125 million natural science specimens and cultural artifacts. The museum is one of the most visited attractions in Washington, D.C. The following photos will give you a glimpse of some of the most popular exhibits and some of the new ones as well.

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is located on the National Mall and is one of Washington DC's most popular attractions. Enjoy your visit and discover your own favorite historical artifacts.

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Dinosaur Hall

Dinosaur exhibit
Smithsonian Institution

The Dinosaur Hall is one of the most popular exhibits at the National Museum of Natural History, exploring life almost 3.5 billion years ago. The Dinosaur Hall is currently being expanded and will reopen in 2019. 

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Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond
Smithsonian Institution

The Hope Diamond is on display at the​ museum. It is the largest blue diamond in the world, weighing 45.52 carats.

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Kenneth E. Behring Family Hall of Mammals

Natural history exhibits
Smithsonian Institution

The Kenneth E. Behring Family Hall of Mammals tells the story of the evolution and adaptation of mammals over time through the use of 274 mammals and nearly a dozen fossils.

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Mammal Orientation Gallery

Natural history exhibit
Smithsonian Institution

Look at the new mammal hall orientation gallery. While in this section of the hall, visitors learn the three characteristics that define a mammal—hair, milk, and middle ear bones.

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Watering Hole - Close-up of Giraffe

Watering hole natural history exhibit
Don Hurlbert/Smithsonian Institution

A giraffe drinks at the watering hole in the Kenneth E. Behring Family Hall of Mammals.

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Polar Bear

Polar bear natural history exhibit
Smithsonian Institution

A polar bear looks down from atop his icy perch at a seal in the water below. Polar bears feed chiefly on seals, but they can also effectively hunt larger prey such as walruses.

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Leopard and Impala

Leopard and impala natural history exhibit
Smithsonian Institution

A leopard lounges in a tree with its kill, an impala. Leopards often drag prey into trees both for eating and for hiding the meat from scavengers such as hyenas and jackals.

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Sant Ocean Hall

Scuba divers
Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution

The Sant Ocean Hall was created in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to show the ocean's history and its importance in contemporary society. It is the single largest exhibition space in the museum and the only one in the country devoted exclusively to a global view of the ocean.
The exhibition includes seven-foot-tall prehistoric shark jaws, a 24-foot-long giant squid suspended in a fluid-filled tank, a model of a 45-foot-long North Atlantic right whale hanging overhead, and much more.

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Spotted Eagle Ray

Spotted Eagle Ray
Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution

The Sant Ocean Hall uses a combination of 674 marine specimens and models, high-definition video experiences, one-of-a-kind exhibits and the newest technology to explore the past, present, and future as never before.

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3D Science on a Sphere Globe

Earth globe exhibit
Rachel Cooper

The Sant Ocean Hall is greatly enhanced by technological components, information and images that cannot be found on the Internet. “Science on a Sphere” is a room-sized, 360-degree global display system created by researchers at NOAA, using computers and projectors to display information on a 6-foot-wide sphere. Animated images and narration explain many of the complex aspects of the ocean, such as what the ocean produces, how it changes, and how it interacts and influences the atmosphere.
The hall also features a 21-minute underwater film that is projected over 12 Sony SXRD 4K projectors, a 1,800 square foot Deep Ocean theater, and 24 interactive stations featuring videos and educational programs about ocean life.

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Sea-Link Recovery Lift

Sea-Link Recovery Lift
Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution

The Sant Ocean Hall examines life in the ocean with a 13-minute film "Deep Ocean Exploration," featuring scientists as they uncover some of the planets deepest mysteries.

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Tube Sponges

Tube sponges
Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution

The Coral Reef section has a 1,500-gallon tank featuring an Indo-Pacific reef with about 74 live specimens. The hall’s “Journey through Time” section looks into the past with fossils of a large number of ancient animals.

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King Penguin

King penguin
Don Wilson/Smithsonian Institution

There are many strange and wonderful animals in the Sant Ocean Hall.

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Pelican

Pelican natural history exhibit
Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution

The Sant Ocean Hall was created in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to show the ocean’s history and its importance in contemporary society. It is the only exhibition in the country devoted exclusively to a global view of the ocean.

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Portugal Man o' War

Portugal Man o' War natural history exhibit
Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution

The combination of 674 marine specimens and models, high-definition video experiences, one-of-a kind exhibits and the newest technology allows visitors to explore the ocean’s past, present, and future as never before.

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Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution

Butterflies
Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution

Visitors get an up-close look at how butterflies and plants have evolved and diversified together over millions of years. The Live Butterfly Exhibit provides an interactive, entertaining and educational experience for all ages.

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Live Butterfly Exhibit

Plant exhibit
Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution

The Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution exhibition draws a lot of crowds.

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Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution

Butterfly
Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution

The live butterflies are a big draw. 

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Man and the Manlike Apes

Primate skeletons
Rachel Cooper

The skeletons are on display in the Bones and Reptiles Room.

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Camel Skeleton

Camel skeleton
Rachel Cooper

This skeleton of a Dromedary Camel is on display in the Bones and Reptiles Room.

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Monkey Skeletons

Monkey skeletons
Rachel Cooper

Also at the Bones and Reptiles Room are monkey skeletons.

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Skulls Composite

Evolutionary skulls
Chip Clark, Jim DiLoreto, Don Hurlbert/Smithsonian Institution

There is a display showing diversity of human fossil skulls. (Left to right): Homo sapiens, ~ 4,800 years old; Homo heidelbergensis, ~350,000 years old; Homo rudolfensis, 1.9 million years old.

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Human Handprint

Primitive handprint cave painting
James DiLoreto, Donald Hurlbert/Smithsonian Institution

This 30,000 year-old handprint from Chauvet Cave in France, made by mixing pigment with saliva inside the mouth and blowing the mixture onto a cave wall, is an emblem of the deep history of human creativity.

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Skull of Human Ancestor

Skull of human ancestor
Reconstruction and photo/John Gurche

Starting with a cast skull, artist John Gurche builds layers of muscle, fat, and skin to create hyper-realistic busts of human ancestors, as in this reconstruction of Homo heidelbergensis, who lived approximately 700,000 to 200,000 years ago.

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Prehistoric Artwork

Caveman painting
Karen Carr

Some cave paintings were likely made as shown—by mixing pigment with saliva inside the mouth and blowing the mixture onto a cave wall.

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