PLAN YOUR VISIT
Free admission; no tickets required. For Museum hours, phone number, address, maps, and more information, please visit the National Museum of Natural History's website.
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 David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins uses Smithsonian science as a foundation to help appreciate our own unique development as human beings,” said Cristián Samper, director of the Museum. “The opening of this hall represents one of the most significant public and scientific achievements in the 100-year history of the museum. Our goal is to provide visitors and online guests with an exciting educational experience that will encourage them to explore for themselves the scientific discoveries about what it means to be human.”
On entering the 15,000-square-foot Hall of Human Origins exhibition from the Sant Ocean Hall, travel back through time through a time tunnel depicting life and environmental change over the past 6 million years. Connect with your distant ancestors at the Hall’s life-size forensically reconstructed faces of early human species and learn about major milestones in the origins of human beings.
Explore actual archaeological field sites at interactive snapshots in time, examine over 75 cast reproductions of real skulls from around the world, engage with an interactive family tree showcasing 6 million years of evolutionary evidence from around the world, and address pressing questions and issues surrounding climate change and humans’ impact on the Earth in the “One Species Living Worldwide” theatre and the “Changing the World” gallery.
Volunteers will be available during public hours to engage with visitors. Free English language tours are currently being offered on the following schedule:
- Every Sunday at 11:30am and 3:30pm, and the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month at 2:30pm
- Every Wednesday at 11:30am
- The 2nd and 4th Friday of the month at 11:30am
- The 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month at 11:30am
We cannot guarantee tours will always occur at these times as they are dependent on volunteer availability. Tours for visually impaired visitors are available upon request if scheduled in advance; please contact us for more information.
Your human origins experience and education will not stop at the exhibition’s doors. The exhibition hall is just one component of the broader “Human Origins: What Does It Mean to Be Human?” initiative, which includes ongoing human origins research, a book called “What Does It Mean to Be Human?” published by National Geographic in partnership with the Smithsonian, resources for educators, public programs, and an immersive online experience based on the scientific research - this website!
Below is a small sample of the media coverage that our exhibition has received:
A 2010 exhibition review of the Hall of Human Origins in The New York Times
A 2010 exhibition review of the Hall of Human Origins in The Washington Post
A 2017 Science article in the "Tales from the Vault" monthly series about after-hours 3-D scanning of the original Shanidar Neanderthal fossil in the Washington Post
We are not currently recruiting new volunteers for the Hall of Human Origins, but please see the National Museum of Natural History's volunteer opportunities webpage for more information.