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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

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FossiLab is a real laboratory located on the second floor of the National Museum of Natural History, within the Last American Dinosaurs exhibition. Preparing newly-collected fossils for our scientists and maintaining all the fossils in our extensive collections is a big job. 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, conserve, 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.

photo of fossil lab 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 near FossiLab? The Dinosaurs in Our Backyard exhibit case is around the corner from FossiLab, and the mummies and Bone Hall are located at the far end of the Last American Dinosaurs exhibit.


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

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