Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
About the
Natural history holds the key to Earth’s future.
Our mission is to promote understanding of the natural world and our place in it. The museum’s collections tell the history of the planet and are a record of human interaction with the environment and one another.
As we all work to shape a sustainable world, this record becomes the starting point. It is our guidebook to how the future can look and work.
Because of the boundless curiosity of our researchers, the breadth and depth of our scientific collections, and our ability to inspire future generations of scientists, we have a vital role to play. Here people can both discover the world and learn to become better stewards of it.
On any given day, our scientists conduct research in our laboratories and at sites around the globe. Boundless curiosity drives them to explore Earth, the species that depend upon it, the cultures that inhabit it, and the forces that alter it. Their work underpins our understanding of critical issues of our time, from conservation to public health, climate change to food security.
We steward a collection of 145 million specimens and artifacts. Each one reflects a moment in space and time; in these moments we find Earth’s story.  And our researchers continue to glean critical new information from these objects. These discoveries about the past help us model and anticipate the future.
Our exhibits, our educational programs, and our staff and volunteers share our collections and the knowledge drawn from them with millions of visitors every year – deepening their appreciation for science, the natural and cultural world, and the challenges of our time.
We don’t just tell Earth’s story— we help write it.
Who We Are
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Our World, Our Future
Our Mission: Understanding the natural world and our place in it.
Our Vision: A future-facing Smithsonian museum that confronts the big questions in nature, science, and society.
Read our 2021 - 2025 Strategic Plan.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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1000 Madison Drive NW
Washington, D.C. 20560
Free admission. Open Wednesday through Sunday
10 AM to 5:30 PM, except Dec. 25
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