National Museum of Natural History

natural history museum in Washington, D.C.

The National Museum of Natural History is a natural history museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., United States. It is administered by the Smithsonian Institution. Admission is free and the museum is open 364 days a year.

National Museum of Natural History
Main facade
National Museum of Natural History is located in Central Washington, D.C.
National Museum of Natural History
Location within Washington, D.C.
Established1910; 114 years ago (1910)
LocationNational Mall in Washington, D.C., United States
Coordinates38°53′29″N 77°01′33″W / 38.8913°N 77.0259°W / 38.8913; -77.0259
TypeNatural History
Visitors6 million (2017)[1]
DirectorKirk Johnson
Public transit access at Federal Triangle
Ford Model T parked in front of the National Museum in 1926
In the rotunda

The museum's collections total over 500 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, and human cultural artifacts (made objects). With 7.4 million visitors in 2009, it is the most visited of all of the Smithsonian museums.[2] It is home to about 185 professional natural history scientists – the largest group of scientists dedicated to the study of natural and cultural history in the world.

The main building includes a popular "Insect Zoo" and an IMAX theater.

Collections and research


The museum includes a collections storage facility in Suitland, Maryland. The museum has a marine science research facility in Ft. Pierce, Florida, and field stations in Belize, Alaska, and Kenya. The museum has seven research departments:

  1. Anthropology
  2. Botany
  3. Entomology
  4. Invertebrate zoology
  5. Mineral sciences
  6. Paleobiology
  7. Vertebrate zoology
    1. Amphibia & reptiles
    2. Birds
    3. Fish
    4. Mammals

Staff collect specimens of fossils, minerals, rocks, plants and animals, tools and artworks. There are a total of 5,285,754 on-line specimen records are available from this work, and a total of 126 million individual specimens.[3] Trained people look after these finds, and keep the collections in good condition.

The NMNH claims to have the largest, most comprehensive natural history collection in the world.[3]

The museum has research links with a number of U.S. government agencies, which have staff working with and at the museum. These include the Department of the Interior (U.S. Geological Survey Biological Resources Division), the Department of Agriculture (Systematic Entomology Laboratory), the Department of Commerce (National Marine Fisheries Service Systematics Laboratory), and the Department of Defense (Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit).[4]


  1. "Visitor Statistics". Smithsonian Newsdesk. Archived from the original on 9 February 2018. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
  2. Zongker, Brett (January 5, 2010). "Smithsonian reports 20% jump in museum visitors". USAToday. Archived from the original on 2010-01-17. Retrieved 2010-07-05.
  3. 3.0 3.1 National Museum of Natural History official website
  4. "About the Museum". Archived from the original on August 15, 2012. Retrieved November 23, 2011.