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The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is located in the very center of Washington DC, at the National Mall. It is open 364 days a year, except Christmas and entrance to the museum is always free. It was established in 1858 and opened to the public in 1910. The museum was the first Smithsonian building constructed to house the national collections and research facilities.
The National Museum of Natural History contains 1.5 million square feet of total space and 325,000 square feet of exhibition and public space. The museum's holdings include more than 125 million natural science specimens and cultural artifacts. The museum provides a diverse assortment of opportunities for research through internships, fellowships and other academic appointments.
The museum's exhibits include: - the Hope Diamond and the Dom Pedro Aquamarine in the Gems and Minerals hall, - the Mummified cat in the Mummies hall, - the African Elephant at the entrance rotunda, - the reconstruction of a Neanderthal in the Human Origins hall, - a live coral reef in the Ocean Hall, - the Polar Bear and Lion in the Mammals hall, - live butterfly pavilion and the Johnson IMAX Theater
The Easter Island stone figure on the ground floor is one of the first things that you will see when you enter the museum from the Connecticut Avenue entrance. The Mammal Hall is one level higher in the first floor. The Mammal Hall has models of aquatic and land mammals such as lions, rams, and giraffes. A manatee and its calf are suspended above the entrance of the hall. The IMAX theater lobby is adjacent to the Mammal Hall.
There are several halls of different mammals: - Hall of Small Mammals; - Akeley Hall of African Mammals; - Hall of African Mammals; - Hall of Asian Mammals; - Hall of New York State Mammals; - Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals; - Hall of Primates Smithsonian Halls of Mammals
Visitors are encouraged to touch the cast of a 53 million-year-old fossil of the earliest known ungulate (hoofed mammal) in North America. Ungulates evolved to eat tough plants and flee from fierce predators. The first ungulates appeared 60 million years ago during the Paleocene Epoch. Today, there are about 207 species of ungulates.
The Hope Diamond is displayed on a rotating pedestal inside a thick glass case. Every few seconds, the pedestal spins 90 degrees so that the people crowding around the case get a turn to see it. The Hope Diamond is about the size of a walnut and weighs 45.52 carats (9.104 g). It has a deep blue-gray color. The Hope diamond was mined in India in the 17th century. It has been owned by kings; it has gone through the hands of several thieves, and it has been the subject of many intrigues and stories. The museum shop has books, specimens of minerals, ceramics, and jewelry, including copies of the Hope Diamond.
The Hooker Emerald Brooch contains a 75.47 carat emerald from Colombia. Emerald is a variety of the mineral beryl, beryllium aluminum silicate (Be3Al2(SiO3)6), which is colored green by the inclusion of small amounts of chromium or vanadium. Emerald deposits are found in Columbia along fractures in carbonate rocks associated with hot springs.
The National Gem and Mineral Collection is one of the most significant collections of its kind in the world. Thecollection includes some of the most famous pieces of gems and minerals including the Hope Diamond and the Star of Asia, 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, which is considered to be one of the most comprehensive collections of its kind in the world The Mineral and Gems Gallery is on the second floor in a room adjacent to the Hope Diamond.
A section of the museum describes the Global Volcanism Program, plate tectonics, earthquakes, and the changes of land masses over time. The "Eruptions, Earthquakes, & Emissions" web application is a time-lapse animation of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes since 1960. It also shows volcanic gas emissions (sulfur dioxide, SO2) since 1978 — the first year satellites were available to provide global monitoring of SO2. The eruption and gas emission data are drawn from the Volcanoes of the World database maintained by the Global Volcanism Program. "10,000 years of volcanic activity at your fingertips“
The Ocean Hall has whales, giant jelly fish, and many specimens of living and extinct marine life. The walls on the second level are used as screens on which the images of swimming fish are projected to create a sensation of motion. Walking in this room gives you the feeling that you are submerged in the ocean. It provides visitors with a unique and breathtaking introduction to the majesty of the ocean. The hall's combination of 674 marine specimens and models, high-definition video, and the newest technology allows visitors to explore the ocean's past, present, and future. The Ocean Hall is the National Museum of Natural History's largest exhibit
The exhibit about Human Origins has skulls and skeletons of several human ancestors. Museum volunteers answer questions about stone tools and early hominids. On March 17, 2010, the Museum marked its 100th anniversary on the National Mall with the public opening of our newest exhibition hall – the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins. This exhibition is based on decades of cutting-edge research by Smithsonian scientists, and is the result of an international collaboration with over 60 research and educational organizations and over 100 researchers from around the world. The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins offers visitors an immersive, interactive journey through 6 million years of scientific evidence for human origins and the stories of survival and extinction in our family tree during times of dramatic climate instability. The exhibit about Human Origins
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