The renovated Fossil Hall includes a new 52-foot model of a prehistoric shark, a fossil lab, and a new exhibit on climate change.
Visitors to the National Mall have a new attraction to see this summer. After a five-year renovation, the Fossil Hall at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History is finally reopening.
The $110 million project was completed with public and private funds, including $40 million in private donations, and included a renovation of the west dining court. An opening ceremony will be held for “The David H. Koch Hall of Fossils — Deep Time” on June 8, 2019, and will culminate with a weekend of special events and appearances.
The 31,000-square-foot exhibition hall includes 700 fossils, along with five main galleries including the new Age of Humans and Global Change gallery. This new exhibit details the impact of humans on the planet and the trajectory of Earth through climate change and extinction. The information in the gallery was conceived by the Smithsonian’s Anthropocene Advisory Committee. Visitors begin their tour in evolution and continue through the gallery learning how Earth and species have changed through the planet’s 3.7-billion-year existence.
“Visitors to the new hall will go on a voyage like no other — a journey that begins in the past and ends in the future,” said Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the National Museum of Natural History. “Along the way, they will experience the history of life on Earth — a story told through extraordinary fossils and engaging interactive exhibits.”
The new fossil hall includes two interactive exhibitions, the FossilLab and the Coralyn W. Whitney Basecamp. In the FossilLab, visitors can watch museum staff clean and prepare fossils, while Basecamp will walk them through the scientific process of reviewing data and questions. When guests get hungry, they can dine under the life-sized version of a Carcharocles megalodon in the new west dining court. The huge prehistoric shark actually inhabited the sea in the Washington, D.C., area.
The museum has some special treats for guests that visit on opening weekend. On Saturday, June 8, and Sunday, June 9, visitors can talk with museum paleontologists and see fossils up close. Little ones can meet paleontologist Scott Sampson of “Dinosaur Train,” interact with costumed characters, and participate in fossil-themed arts and crafts.
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History will be open for extended hours, 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily through the end of the summer, and as always, admission is free! Find more planned summer museum events here.
Will you be braving the crowds this summer to make it to the new Fossil Hall? Tell us in the comments!