Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

World's most visited natural history museum

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You could consider the numbers (127 million artifacts, 4.27 million fossil specimens, 35 million insects, 7 million visitors) and leave it at that, but that’s no fun.

The reason so many people visit the Natural History Museum is because sometimes you’ve just got to see it to believe it.

The 45.52 carat, blue Hope diamond out-dazzles anything in one’s own jewelry box, that’s for sure.

Among the museum’s hugest and most hugely fascinating exhibit is the Hall of Mammals, whose hundreds of specimens and many hands-on interactives help you trace the evolution of mammals over the past 250 million years. The Hall of Human Origins picks up the story by exploring connections between the natural world and the evolution of humans , and displays lifelike reconstructions of early humans, based on fossil discoveries. Ocean Hall examines the ocean’s essential role in human lives and features the carcasses of two giant squid. Mummies on display in the Eternal Life in Ancient Egypt exhibit are thousands of years old. More ancient still are the dinosaurs you’ll learn about in the exhibit The Last American Dinosaurs: Discovering a Lost World, which takes you back in time 66 million years ago. The Fossil Halls are undergoing renovation and will reopen in 2019.

The museum will close its IMAX move theaters at the end of September 2017.

Tip: Two exhibits contain live critters. At the Insect Zoo, be sure to watch the tarantula feeding. Wear red in the Butterfly Pavilion to increase your chances that the colorful beauties may alight on your shoulder.

Metro: Smithsonian/National Mall (Jefferson Dr./Mall exit) or Federal Triangle on the Silver, Blue, and Orange Lines.

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At A Glance

Constitution Ave. NW at 10th St. NW
Washington 20560
Museum admission is free but the Butterfly Pavilion does charge for entry. http://www.mnh.si.edu


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