Explore What You Can’t Normally See at the Museum
Explore What You Can’t Normally See at the Museum

Have you ever thought about how on earth a museum can store all of the pieces they’ve exhibited over the years? Like a whale? Or thousands of tiny beetles, or pieces of dried plants hundreds of years old? 

What you see in a museum exhibit is far from all it has to offer.

Take the National Museum of Natural History in Washington. In its incredible storerooms that house much of the Smithsonian’s collections, the museum’s ‘Employees Only’ doors are open for a marvelous sneak peek–online, that is.

Here are colorful glimpses of different departments with their respective scientists showing what is closed to the public. 

A presentation of entomology specimens arranged within one aisle of the Entomology Department compactor collection cabinets at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.  Designed to illustrate the size and scope of the Entomology collection. May 9, 2006. Featured researchers:  Dr. David Furth, Collections Manager;  Dr. Ted Schultz, Research Entomologist;  Dr. Jonathan Coddington, Senior Scientist;  Patricia Gentili-Poole, Museum Technician.
Entomology. (Chip Clark/Smithsonian)

 

Anthropological collections. (The Smithsonian Institution's Museum Support Center, Maryland)
Anthropology. (Chip Clark/Smithsonian)

 

Botanical collections are displayed at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. Botany staff present are Dr. David Bruce Lellinger (left, front), Carol Kellof (right, middle), and Rusty Russell (left, back).
Botany. (Chip Clark/Smithsonian)

 

Vertebrate zoology. (Chip Clark/Smithsonian)
Vertebrate zoology. (Chip Clark/Smithsonian)

 

A view of one part of the Paleontology collection in the Smithsonian Institution's National Musuem of Natural History, arranged by the addition of representative specimens from other parts of the three floors of fossils in the East Wing. Staff: Dr. Scott Wing, Chairman of the Department of Paleontology.
Paleobiology. (Chip Clark/Smithsonian)

 

Invertebrate zoology.
Invertebrate zoology. (Chip Clark/Smithsonian)

 

The Botany Department Herbarium at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, displaying algae specimens, including coraline algae, wet specimens and the usual herbarium sheets. Featured researchers:  Dr. James Norris (right, front), his research assistant Bob Sims (left, front), and associate researcher, Katie Norris (left, back).
Botany – Algea. (Chip Clark/Smithsonian)

 

An assortment of mineral specimens from the Department of Mineral Sciences' collections are displayed in the storage vault known as the "Blue Room," at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. Mineral Sciences staff present are (left) Paul Pohwat, Collections Manager of Minerals, and (right) Russell Feather, Collections Manager of Gems.
Mineral sciences. (Chip Clark/Smithsonian)

 

Anthropological collections on display in Pod 4 (designed to house oversized objects) at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum Support Center (MSC), located in Suitland, Maryland. Anthropology collections staff present. Panoramic image #7 of 7 at 26mm focal length.
Anthropology. (Chip Clark/Smithsonian)

 

Whale skeletons from the Department of Vertebrate Zoology's marine mammals collections are displayed in storage at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum Support Center (MSC), located in Suitland, Maryland.
Mammals – whale. (Chip Clark/Smithsonian)
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