Inside the Secret Collections Backstage at the US Museum of Natural History


22nd Mar, 2016

Birds Collections, National Museum of Natural History

If I had the choice, I would always choose to visit a museum inside out– that is, take a backstage tour of what they don’t display, which in most cases, is much larger than what is actually on display. And we’re not talking about 2 to 3 times larger, we’re talking about secret collections that are 99. 9% larger, hiding behind the museum walls…

Entomology Collections, National Museum of Natural History

To give you an idea of how much we’re missing, The Smithsonian team at the National Museum of Natural History has kindly shared their staff photos, giving us a glimpse of what it would be like to raid all those backstage drawers and cabinets. You could say that museums sure do like to hoard things, but of course, it’s not all just sitting there gathering dust. The NMNH’s collections are special resources that allow the museum to make unique contributions to answering significant scientific questions and play a vital role in advancing scientific knowledge, addressing societal issues, and increasing scientific literacy.

Anthropology Collections, Smithsonian Institution's Museum Support Center


Invertebrate Zoology Collections, National Museum of Natural History

Invertebrate Zoology

The Mineral Sciences' "Blue Room," National Museum of Natural History

Mineral Sciences

Botany Collections, Natural History Building


Pod 4 (Oversize Storage) at the Smithsonian's Museum Support Center (MSC)


Paleobiology Collections, National Museum of Natural History


Fish Collections in Alcohol, National Museum of Natural History


Mouse Collections, National Museum of Natural History


Botany Algae Collection, National Museum of Natural History

Botany – Algae

Whale Skeletons, Museum Support Center

Mammals – Whale

All these fabulous photos are by the late Chip Clark, found on the Smithsonian Collections

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