The National Museum of Natural History is a museum of natural history managed through the Smithsonian Institution, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Columbia, United States. The museum is free and is open every year. In 2016 when it received 7.1 million visitors, it was ranked as the 11th highest-visited museum worldwide and the most frequent natural, historical museum worldwide. It was opened in 1910. The museum on the National Mall was one of the first Smithsonian structures built exclusively for national collections and research and education facilities. The main building is 1.5 million square feet (140,000 square meters), comprising three-quarters of a square foot (30,200 square meters) of exhibition space and public spaces. It also includes more than 1,000 employees.
This Washington D.C museum’s collections include more than 150 million items of plants, fossils, animal minerals, rocks, human remains, meteorites, and cultural artifacts from the human race, the most extensive collection of natural history in the world. The museum also houses around 185 professional natural history scientists — the most extensive group of scientists who study the natural and cultural past of the world.
Research and Collections
The NMNH comprises 90% of the Smithsonian’s collection and is among the largest, most natural, and historical collections. The Smithsonian provides an estimated number of specimens and artifacts of more than 146 million. Mainly, the collections comprise the group of 30 million invertebrates, 4.5 million plants preserved in the museum’s herbarium, and 7 million fish kept in jars filled with liquid. The National Collection for Amphibians and Reptiles increased from 190,000 specimens in 1970 to more than 580,000 specimen records by 2020. Out of the two million artifacts belonging to the cultural arts, 400,000 are photos stored at the National Anthropological Archives. The museum’s collections are accessed via off-site loans and exchanges. This means that 3.5 million objects are available to loan each year. The remainder of the groups that are not displayed is kept in the private area of research at the museum and the Museum Support Center, located in Suitland, Maryland. Other facilities include an ocean science center in Ft. Pierce, Florida, and research stations in Belize, Alaska, and Kenya.
Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals
The National Gem and Mineral Collection are one of its most significant collections. It includes the most well-known minerals and gems, including the Hope Diamond and the Star of Asia Sapphire, one of the giant sapphires in the world. There are over 15,000 gems that are part of the collection, 350,000 minerals, and over 300,000 samples of ore and rock specimens. In addition, the Smithsonian’s National Gem and Mineral Collection contain approximately 45,000 meteorite pieces comprising samples of every known kind of meteorite. It is regarded to be one of the largest collections of its type.
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