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National Fossil Hall to reopen at the National Museum of Natural History
A Diplodocus dinosaur skeleton (C) is on display in the National Fossil Hall, featuring around 700 fossil specimens that track the history of life on the planet from dinosaurs to mammals, during a media preview of the new exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, June 4, 2019. The exhibition tells the story of 3.7 billion years of life on Earth, highlighting connections between ecosystems, climate, geological forces and evolution. SAUL LOEB / AFP.

WASHINGTON, DC.- The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History will reopen its dinosaur and fossil hall Saturday, June 8. The 31,000-square-foot exhibition will feature an authentic Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton alongside more than 700 other fossil specimens, including mammals, reptiles, plants and insects—some never before displayed at the museum. The exhibition tells the story of 3.7 billion years of life on Earth, highlighting the connections among ecosystems, climate, geological forces and evolution and encouraging visitors to understand that the choices they make today will have an impact on the future. “The David H. Koch Hall of Fossils—Deep Time” is named in recognition of a $35 million gift from David H. Koch.

“Visitors to the new hall will go on a voyage like no other—a journey that begins in the past and ends in the future,” said Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the National Museum of Natural History. “Along the way, they will experience the history of life on Earth—a story told through extraordinary fossils and engaging interactive exhibits. Visitors will also be called upon to consider the very real challenges our planet faces and their role in shaping a desirable future.”

What Is Deep Time?
What is normally thought of as history is only a tiny fraction of Earth’s actual past. Earth’s history has played out over billions of years in what scientists call Deep Time.

Main Messages of the Exhibition
Fossils are clues from the past that reveal life’s 3.7 billion-year history on Earth. The Deep Time perspective gives context to the world today and helps predict how the human species and all life will fare in the future. Major themes throughout the hall include:

• All life is connected—past, present and future—to all other life and to the Earth itself.
Evolution: Life is continually changing through time.

• Ecosystems Change: Ecosystems changed through time and continue to do so.
Earth Processes: Geological processes and global cycles cause ecosystem and evolutionary changes.

• Extinction: Mass extinctions have periodically devastated life on Earth.
Age of Humans and Global Change: Humans are now shaping the future and the fate of life on Earth.

The hall is a curving chronicle of the entire history of life on Earth that shows the origin and evolution of plants and animals, recreates their ancient worlds and highlights past examples of climate change and extinction. Visitors can use the Warner Age of Humans Bridge for a panoramic view of the exhibition. They can learn about the myriad ways in which humans are causing rapid, unprecedented change to the planet in the Warner Age of Humans Gallery. This gallery was created in consultation with the museum’s Anthropocene Advisory Committee—a panel of eminent scholars, communicators and educators from nationally recognized organizations, who address human impact and climate change on the planet. Other highlights include the FossiLab where visitors can watch experts prepare fossils and the Coralyn W. Whitney Basecamp, a hands-on interactive gallery where visitors can explore the scientific process of asking questions and examining evidence.

Project Funding
The construction of the hall cost $110 million; $70 million was provided by a federal appropriation for the renovations and $40 million in private funds were raised for the exhibition itself. Additional funds were raised to support educational programming, scientific research and an endowment for the long-term maintenance of the hall. Dozens of individuals and corporations donated to the overall project including Koch, Ed and Jackie Warner, Coralyn Wright Whitney, Peter Buck, the John and Mary Brock Family, Richard L. Adams and Family, FedEx, Heather Sturt Haaga and Paul Haaga Jr., Lyda Hill Philanthropies, Elizabeth and Whitney MacMillan, Bradford M. Freeman, Nancy and Charles Hogan, Robert and Julie Mandell and Family, Gregory and Marilena Lucier, Margery and Edgar Masinter, the Moraine Foundation, Nikon Instruments, Roland and Debra Sauermann and Slash.

Sharing the Deep Time Story More Broadly
When Whales Walked: Journeys in Deep Time is a two-hour film developed by Smithsonian Channel and PBS in partnership with the museum that traces the epic origin stories of some of the world’s most spectacular creatures. Using innovative storytelling techniques, 3-D graphics and CGI to bring ancient beasts to life, When Whales Walked offers surprising insights into the evolution of birds, crocodiles, whales and elephants, exploding myths about the path these species took over millions of years. Narrated by actor Lee Pace (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hobbit), the film premieres Wednesday, June 19, at 9 p.m. ET on PBS and Smithsonian Channel. The museum will host a special screening cut of the film Tuesday, May 21, at 7 p.m. ET before the television premiere.

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June 5, 2019

National Fossil Hall to reopen at the National Museum of Natural History

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