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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Drawing of a fossil preparator's hand excavating a juvenile Compsognathus dinosaur from rock, as the little dinosaur comes to life.
Department of Paleobiology volunteers and staff at work in Fossilab. A map of the second floor of the Museum showing the location of FossiLab

Click images to zoom.

FossiLab is a real fossil preparation laboratory located on the second floor of the National Museum of Natural History. Preparing and maintaining all the fossils in our collection is a big job—especially with the renovation of the National Fossil Hall in progress. Watch through the lab's windows as Museum staff and volunteers unpack new fossil shipments from the field, remove fossils from rock and loose sediment, repair and conserve fossils as they come off exhibit, photograph and illustrate fossils, and perform many other fossil preparation and conservation tasks. We welcome visitor's questions and love to talk about what we are doing.

Explore the links below to find out more.

FossiLab Projects

What's happening in FossiLab? Learn about current projects, see photos of the fossils and follow our progress.

preparing a fossil whale bone with a pick What is fossil preparation?
Learn about fossil preparation and see some of the tools in action.
pack horses carrying fossils in northern Arizona Blog Posts
Visit the Department of Paleobiology's blog to read posts about our work.
"Are the fossils real?" and other Frequently Asked Questions


What else is nearby? The Dinosaurs in Our Backyard exhibit case is around the corner and The Last American Dinosaurs exhibit will open next to FossiLab in late November, 2014.

FossiLab gratefully acknowledges a 2008 grant from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee in support of volunteer training.

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