Introduction to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC

The National Museum of Natural History is part of the Smithsonian Institution and houses a national collection of more than 125 million examples of natural sciences and cultural artifacts. Located in the Washington DC National Mall, it is the most visited natural history museum in the world. It is also a research center that inspires discovery about the natural world through its exhibitions and educational programs. Admission to the museum is free.

The National Museum of Natural History is a favorite of children but has a captivating appeal for all ages. Popular displays include dinosaur skeletons, a huge collection of gemstones and minerals, early human artifacts, insect zoos, live coral reefs and more.

Visit Tips

This is Washington’s most famous museum for families. Log in early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds. In addition, here are some tips to make your trip better:

Buy IMAX tickets in advance or as soon as you arrive.

If you are visiting with children, be sure to make more time for the Discovery Room, which has a lot of hands-on activities.

Allow at least 2-3 hour

Museum hours and tours

Open daily except December 25. Regular hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. This museum changes working hours during the summer months. Please check the official website for updates. Free special tours start Sunday, Monday through Friday at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm from September to June.

A must-see for permanent exhibitions

The National Museum of Natural History has several permanent exhibitions on various topics that are attractive and exciting for all ages.

Jean Annenberg Hooker Geology, Jewelry and Minerals Hall:


This hall displays the famous diamond of hope and other treasures of the National Gemstone Collection.

Human Origin Forum:


The exhibition tells the story of how human species evolved over 6 million years, including more than 285 early human fossils and artifacts, realistic reconstructions of human species sizes, and 23 interactive experiences.

St. Ocean Hall:


A kind of interpretive exhibition shows how the ocean connects with other global systems and the daily lives of people around the world. See the giant male and female squid and the exact replica of a live North Atlantic whale.

Butterflies + Plants: Evolution Partners:


Visitors get a closer look at how butterflies and plants have evolved and diversified together for millions of years.

Latest American Dinosaurs:


The exhibit features a giant, vegetarian Triceratops, a 14-foot-tall T-Rex actor, a mural of ancient environments, a video presentation, and a “How to Become a Fossil” game. The museum is designing a new National Fossil Hall, the largest and most extensive exhibition renovation in the museum’s history.

Insect Zoo O. Orkin
This room offers a variety of practical activities and live insects as well as daily tarantula feeding.

Mammal Family Forum Kenneth E. Behring
More than 270 mammals and dozens of fossils have been exhibited in various environments.

Dining at the National Museum of Natural History


Atrium Café offers fast food and offers fossil soups, sandwiches, salads, ice cream and espresso bars. If you are still hungry after the visit, do not be afraid: near the shopping center, there are many options for going to restaurants and eating.

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