Essential Architecture- Washington D.C.

National Museum of Natural History


Hornblower & Marshall


National Mall, Washington, D.C.




Beaux-Arts (the exterior reminds me of the old Penn Station in New York)




  National Mall museum entrance

Inside the National Museum of Natural History, underneath the rotunda.

The museum as seen from the National Mall, the Old Post Office Building visible in the distance

The National Museum of Natural History is a museum administered by the Smithsonian Institution, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The museum's collections total over 125 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, and human cultural artifacts. It is the second most popular of all of the Smithsonian museums and is also home to about 185 professional natural history scientists — the largest group of scientists dedicated to the study of the natural and cultural history in the world.

The museum was established in 1910, with its building designed by Hornblower & Marshall. The building, designed in the neoclassical architectural style, was the first constructed on the north side of the National Mall, along Constitution Avenue, as part of the 1901 McMillan Commission plan.

National Gem and Mineral Collection
The National Gem and Mineral Collection is one of the most significant collections of its kind in the world. The collection includes some of the most famous pieces of gems and minerals such as the famous Hope Diamond and the Star of Asia Sapphire. There are over 375,000 individual mineral samples, and a research collection used by scientists around the world.

The Hope Diamond is one of the most popular attractions in the exhibit. It weighs 45.52 carats (9.104 g), and is most well known for the supposed curse that it puts on its owners. Almost all of the previous owners of the diamond have been forced to sell it out of financial strife. The Star of Asia Sapphire has no “curse” on it, however it is one of the largest sapphires in the world, weighing in at an astonishing 330 carats (66 g), it was mined in Sri Lanka.

Part of the collection is displayed in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals, one of the many galleries in the Museum of Natural History. Some of the most important donors are Washington A. Roebling, the man who built the Brooklyn Bridge, who gave 16,000 specimens to the collection, Frederick A. Canfield, who donated 9,000 specimens to the collection, and Dr. Isaac Lea, who donated the base of the museum’s collection of 1312 gems and minerals. The museum is still growing today with the help of private donations and gifts, the collection represents the hard work and determination of generations of effort to make the collection good.

Hall of Dinosaurs

Hall of Mammals