Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Research &
Beyond the Museum's exhibitions lies a labyrinth of hallways, vast storage rooms
and busy offices, all filled with the sights and sounds of discovery.
Invertebrate Zoology
Mineral Sciences
Vertebrate Zoology
Special message to researchers: While the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History exhibition spaces will partially open to the public on June 18th, our collections remain closed to most staff and all researchers, and the museum’s COVID-19 loan moratorium remains in effect. Currently, there is no capacity to accommodate collections activities including visits, image requests, loans, and shipments. While there is no current date set for when on-site collections activities will resume, we will update as soon as this changes.
Our Collections
Eminent scientists, specimens, books and papers, microscopes, and sophisticated computer systems: Welcome to the realm of NMNH Research and Collections. In this university-like atmosphere, scientists delve deep into the history of our planet and the processes and peoples that shape it today.
Museum explorers travel to ocean depths, the peaks of the Andes, Africa's Rift Valley, the rainforests of South America, and the deserts of Central Asia. Perhaps even to a field site or research institution in your own state, territory or country. In each area, researchers collect specimens: fossils, minerals, and rocks, plants and animals, tools and artworks. Collections care professionals have meticulously preserved, labeled, cataloged, and organized items of this kind for more than 150 years. 
Taken together, the NMNH collections form the largest, most comprehensive natural history collection in the world. By comparing items gathered in different eras and regions, scientists learn how our world has varied across time and space.
145 million items in our ever-growing collections!
Learn More About Our Collections
Search the Museum Collections
Specimen Loans
Museum Collections Policies
Our Experts
Museum staff work onsite and around the world to gather new knowledge and collection items. Our curators work to preserve and maintain almost 150 million items. Support staff help to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Did you know?
Altogether the Museum is the size of 18 football fields!
Facilities & Labs
Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce
Laboratories of Analytical Biology
Museum Support Center
Osteology Prep Lab
Did you know?
The Museum research community is home to over 450 scientists.
Encyclopedia of Life
Global Genome Initiative
Human Origins
Did you know?
There are all sorts of opportunities at the Museum for research & study, crossing many educational levels!
Internships & Fellowships
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Email powered by BlackBaud (Privacy Policy, Terms of Use)
1000 Madison Drive NW
Washington, D.C. 20560
Free admission. Open Wednesday through Sunday
10 AM to 5:30 PM, except Dec. 25
Smithsonian Institution
Terms of Use
Privacy Policy
Contact Us
Host an Event