Paleobiology Visitor Information
Requesting an Appointment
The collections of the Department of Paleobiology are open to scientific researchers and students currently advised by researchers. Requests to visit the collections should be made at least two weeks in advance by sending a completed Visitor Registration Form to the applicable collections contact:
Mark Florence, Deputy Collections Manager, Invertebrate Paleontology and Micropaleontology
Amanda Millhouse, Deputy Collections Manager, Vertebrate Paleontology
Jonathan Wingerath, Deputy Collections Manager, Paleobotany and Sediments
Please format the subject line of the email in the following format: Visit Request [Last Name] [Day Month Year of Arrival] (e.g. Visit Request Smith 01 Jan 2018). If you are a returning visitor, you must submit a new form for each visit.
General inquiries can be sent to:
Kathy Hollis, Collections Manager, Paleobiology
Please review the general Visitor Guidelines prior to your visit.
Additional Guidelines for Vertebrate Paleontology Visitors
Please review the Vertebrate Paleontology Visitor Guidelines before your visit. The vertebrate fossils are accessible to registered visitors Monday through Thursday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, excluding federal holidays; Fridays are subject to staff availability.
Some of the vertebrate fossils are stored at our offsite facility (see Collection Organization section below). Please submit your visit request at least one month prior to your arrival if you intend on studying any of the following taxa: Cetacea, Hagerman Fossil Beds equids, Sauropoda, Teleoceras, Testudinata, Titanotheria, and vertebrate trackways.
Our collections database is searchable at https://collections.nmnh.si.edu/search/paleo/. Clicking the + next to a record will open a window with additional specimen information; details for all records can also be exported as a CSV for easier viewing. If you are interested in specific specimens, you may also send a list of these prior to your visit so that collections staff can locate them in advance or let you know if anything is unavailable for study. Be aware that we have a very large collection and not everything has a digital record; our staff will do their best to answer additional inquiries regarding specimen data.
Hours and Access
The Department of Paleobiology is open to registered visitors Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. excluding federal holidays.
Permission to visit the Department of Paleobiology does not automatically grant access to other units within the Smithsonian—you must make separate arrangements with each unit.
The fossil collections are split between the National Museum of Natural History in downtown Washington D.C (1000 Constitution Ave, NW), and the Museum Support Center (MSC) in Suitland, Maryland (4210 Silver Hill Road).
Additional arrangements are required to examine specimens at the MSC. If you are visiting MSC, a shuttle bus leaves NMNH every weekday hour from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. Please check with your Paleo Department host for return the return shuttle schedule. Allow an additional hour of commuting time for each day you study collections there. It is also possible to drive and park at MSC (4210 Silver Hill Road, Suitland, Maryland 20746).
Arrival and Transportation
The National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) is located in Washington DC at 10th and Constitution Avenue, NW, and is easily reached by public transportation. There are subway stations at National Airport and Amtrak's Union Station, with stops at Archives, Federal Triangle, and Smithsonian all a short walk from the Museum.
New visitors should report to the security office at the main entrance to the museum on Constitution Avenue. Security will then issue you a visitors badge and contact the staff member designated to escort you to the Department of Paleobiology.
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