Time: (Museum Hours are 10:00am to 7:30pm)
The National Museum of Natural History is part of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s preeminent museum and research complex. The Museum is dedicated to inspiring curiosity, discovery, and learning about the natural world throughout its unparalleled research, collections, exhibitions, and education outreach programs. Opened in 1910, the green-domed museum on the National Mall was among the first Smithsonian building constructed exclusively to house the national collections and research facilities.
Whether looking at the history and cultures of Africa, describing our earliest Mammalian ancestor or primate diversity around the world, examining ancient life forms including the ever popular dinosaurs, or exploring the beauty of rare gemstones such as uniquely colored diamonds, the Museum’s temporary and permanent exhibitions serve to educate, enlighten and entertain millions of visitors each year. The main building on the National Mall contains 1.5 million square feet of space overall and 325,000 square feet of exhibition and public space; altogether the Museum is the size of 18 football fields, and houses over 1,000 employees.
At the center of the Museum’s exhibition and research programs are its expertly documented collections: more than 125 million natural science specimens and cultural artifacts. Just to name of few of the museum’s holdings, the collections include 30 million insects carefully pinned into tiny boxes; 4-1/2 million plants pressed onto sheets of paper on the Museum’s herbarium; 7 million fish in liquid-filled jars; and 2 million cultural artifacts, including 400,000 photographs housed in the National Anthropological Archives. Over 3-1/2 million specimens are out on loan each year; over 15,000 visitor days are spent in the collections; and there are almost 600,000 additional visits to collection data bases available on the Web.
The Museum includes a state-of-the-art collections storage facility in Suitland, Maryland; a marine science research facility in Ft. Pierce, Florida; and field stations as far away as Belize, Alaska and Kenya.
Through its research, collections, education and exhibition programs, NMNH serves as one of the world’s great repositories of scientific and cultural heritage as well as a source of tremendous pride for all Americans.
Geology, Gems and Minerals
More than 7,500 individual gemstones, ranging from less than half-carat to almost 23,000 carats, fill the cases in this gallery. Like all precious gems, each was cut from a mineral crystal that grew naturally within the Earth. The National Gem Collection totals more than 10,000 specimens and is considered one of the world’s finest. Virtually all the pieces are gifts from individuals. The gems now belong to the people of the United States.
The Hope Diamond has existed for more than a billion years. Since it formed deep within the Earth….the Atlantic Ocean has opened, closed, and opened again….the dinosaurs have come and gone…humans have evolved and spread across the face of the Earth. Over the past three centuries, a rich human history full of mystery and intrigue has made it to one of the world’s most famous gemstones.