The Natural Museum of Natural History is found in Washington, D.C. in the USA. It is a natural history museum located on the National Wall and is administered by the Smithsonian Institution. This amazing place is open 364 days a year and offers free admission. It is the most visited museum of any kind in all of North America and is the most visited natural history museum in the world.
The National Museum of Natural History first opened its doors in 1910. This was one of the Smithsonian’s first buildings exclusively constructed to hold research facilities and the national collections. More than 1000 employees work in the main building. It has a total area of 123,000m2 or 1,320,000 square feet and offers 33,000m2 or 350,000 square feet of public space and exhibition space.
There are over 126 million specimens of fossils, rocks, plants, minerals, animals, human cultural artifacts and meteorites on display. It is the most visited of all of the Smithsonian museums with 7.4 million visitors in 2009 alone. As well, it is the home to approximately 185 professional natural history scientists. These individuals make up the largest group of scientists who are dedicated to the study of cultural history and natural history in the world.
There are 7 departments in the museum that research is divided up into: vertebrate zoology, entomology, anthropology, invertebrate zoology, paleobiology, botany and mineral sciences.
Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals
One of the most significant collections of this kind is offered in the National Gem and Mineral Collection. It includes the Hope Diamond and one of the largest sapphires in the world, the Star of Asia Sapphire. These are some of the most famous pieces of minerals and gems around. Currently, there are more than 15,000 individual gems available to view in the collection. There are an additional 300,000 samples of ore and rock specimens, along with 350,000 minerals. The Smithsonian’s Natural Gem and Mineral Collection also boast roughly 35,000 meteorites. This portion of the exhibit is considered to be one of the most comprehensive collections of its kind on the planet.
Hall of Human Origins
The Hall occupies approximately 1400 m2 or 15,000 square feet of exhibit space. It is “dedicated to the discovery and understanding of human origins.” Some of the specimens include an interactive human family tree depicting 6 million years of evolution, and 75 replica skulls. In this section there is also the Changing the World Gallery, which focuses on issues such as how the human’s impact the world and climate change.
Dinosaurs/Hall of Paleobiology
There are more than 570,000 catalogued reptiles around the world on display at the museum. The National Collection of Amphibians and Reptiles has grown over 300% since 1970. By 2008, there were over 570,000 specimen records.
The Hall of Dinosaurs offers fossilized skeletons and cast models. There is even a Tyrannosaurus Rex cast facing a Triceratops cast. This exhibit features a collection of 46 “complete and important “dinosaur specimens. The “Triceratops exhibit shows the first accurate dinosaur skeleton in virtual motion, achieved through the use of scanning and digital technology.”
Hall of Mammals
Out of all the vertebrate specimens in the world, the museum offers the largest collection. It is almost double the size of the next largest mammal collections. There are even some historically important collections available for the 19th and 20th centuries.
The O. Orkin Insect Zoo offers live insects for viewing. There are numerous exhibits about entomologists and insects as well. A variety of habitats have been created in order to showcase the different kinds of insects that live in different environments. It features how they have adapted to areas such as: a mangrove swamp, a rain forest, a freshwater pond, a house and a desert. The zoo is sponsored by a well-known pest control company called Orkin.
The Sant Ocean Hall is considered to be the largest renovation of the museum since it’s opening in 1910. Ocean Hall opened its doors up on September 27th, 2008. It provides 674 marine specimens and a variety of models drawn from more than 80 million specimens in the museum’s complete collection. This makes it the largest collection of its kind in the world. The hall is named in honour of the Roger Sant family. They donated $15 million to endow the success of the new hall and similar related programs.