The impressive, green-domed Museum of Natural History on the National Mall in Washington, DC, was one of the first Smithsonian museums. Since it opened its doors in 1910, the museum has endeavored to inspire curiosity and learning through its collection of over 126 million natural specimens, artifacts, and photographs. It’s considered to be one of the world’s leading resources for scientific and cultural heritage.
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History offers visitors permanent collections, temporary exhibits, and immersive, hands on experiences. Its collections include over 30 million insects housed in glass boxes, and a dazzling array of fossils, rocks, plants, tools, and artwork. Visitors can learn about the dinosaurs that roamed what is now America, and see the Hope Diamond, one of the world’s most admired jewels.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Admission to the museum and most exhibitions is free.
- Entrance to the butterfly pavilion is free on Tuesdays.
- The museum can be very crowded on Saturdays; during the summer, there’s a useful heat map on the website to help plan your visit.
- Dining options include a cafeteria and Café Natural, which serves coffee and a limited food menu.
- The wheelchair-accessible entrance to the museum can be found on Constitution Avenue.
How to Get There
The Natural History Museum is located on the National Mall at 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Parking in the area is limited, but there are a couple of paid parking garages nearby. The museum is easily reached by bus and metro, and the nearest stops are Federal Triangle, Smithsonian Station, and Archives-Navy Memorial – Penn Quarter
When to Get There
The Museum is normally very crowded on Saturdays and during the summer months. Fall and winter weekdays days are normally quieter. The museum is open every day of the year but Christmas.
The Butterfly Pavilion
The Museum is home to a butterfly pavilion—a climate controlled room full of tropical plants and live butterflies. The pavilion is located on the second floor inside the Partners in Evolution exhibition. Tickets are required for each 15-minute visit and tickets cost $7.50 for adults and $6.50 for children. Admission is free on Tuesdays, and tickets must be purchased in advance in person or online.