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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Exhibits

Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals

The National Gem and Mineral Collection is one of the most significant collections of its kind in the world and includes famous pieces of gems and minerals including the Hope Diamond and the Star of Asia Sapphire, one of the largest sapphires in the world. There are currently over 15,000 individual gems in the collection, as well as 350,000 minerals and 300,000 samples of rock and ore specimens. Additionally, the Smithsonian's National Gem and Mineral Collection houses approximately 35,000 meteorites.

Dinosaurs/Hall of Paleobiology

The Hall of Dinosaurs has fossilized skeletons and cast models, including Tyrannosaurus Rex facing off with Triceratops. In May 2012, billionaire David H. Koch donated $35 million toward the cost of a $45 million upgrade to the 30-year-old, 25,000 square feet dinosaur hall. The hall is anticipated to close in the spring of 2014 and reopen in 2019.

Hall of Mammals

The Behring Hall of Mammals has the largest collection of vertebrate specimens in the world, nearly twice the size of the next largest mammal collections.



- Admission is free


- Open 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m; may have extended Hours

Location and Hours

10th St. and Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC
Open 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m; may have extended Hours


  • What are the best exhibits to see with kids?

    Popular exhibits for kids include the O. Orkin Insect Zoo, which is a special exhibit hall on the 2nd Floor of the Museum where visitors can observe live insects and their many-legged relatives. Volunteers conduct tarantula feeding demonstrations, work with live insects that visitors may touch and hold, and answer questions about the many-legged creatures that live in the Insect Zoo. Also, the Samuel C. Johnson IMAX Theatre with 5 to 6 shows rotating throughout the day.
  • What are the top places to eat?

    The Museum of Natural History has the following dining options; all are open from 11:00am to 5:00pm; except the Atrium Café which closes at 3:00pm. When the Museum extends its hours to 7:30pm; all stay open 2 hours additional. There are also outdoor Kiosks located on the steps of the Museum on the National Mall.
    • Atrium Café, located on the Ground Floor - Dogs, Sandwiches and all-natural and organic, sustainable dishes.
    • Fossil Café, located in Dinosaur Hall on the 1st Floor - Featuring specialty coffees, gourmet sandwiches, fresh salads, homemade desserts, organic fruit, beer, and soft drinks.
    • Café Natural, located on the Ground Floor - Offering Ice cream, specialty coffees, and homemade desserts.

Parking, directions, public transportation

There is no public parking facility at the Smithsonian on the National Mall; on-street parking is limited and posted times are enforced. There are commercial parking lots and garages located within several blocks of the museums. There are also a limited number of parking spaces for vehicles with the appropriate license plate or permit for visitors with disabilities.

Must see permanent exhibits

The Hope Diamond; known as the "most famous diamond in the world" at 45.52 carats, and valued in today's dollars at between $200 and $250 million dollars.

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