inside the archives: storage at the smithsonian natural history museum
inside the archives: storage at the smithsonian natural history museum inside the archives: storage at the smithsonian natural history museum
apr 01, 2016

inside the archives: storage at the smithsonian natural history museum

inside the archives: storage at the smithsonian natural history museum
(above) feather identification expert roxie laybourne, amidst a portion of NMNH’s bird collection
all images by chip clark, courtesy of the smithsonian natural history museum




the collections of the national museum of natural history (NMNH) in washington, D.C hold the largest catalog of the smithsonian’s reference materials. these acquisitions aid museum staff in the exploration and understanding the planet, biological and cultural diversity, evolutionary relationships, conservation, and global change.


over the course of his decades at the smithsonian, the museum’s chief photographer chip clark documented the departments and storage facilities otherwise unseen to public view. he photographed everything from dinosaurs and mummies to diamonds, butterflies, and his fellow staff members. inside the archives, drawers spill open in the entomology department to reveal colorful butterflies carefully placed on shelves; feather identification expert roxie laybourne is photographed amidst the museum’s exotic bird collection; and a peek inside the mammal storage area shows giant whale bones kept on reserve. take a look at a selection of images below, and more from the archive of images here.

the entomology department

the botany/algae department

the mineral sciences department

the botany department

the invertebrate zoology department

the paleobiology department

the anthropology department

mammals (whale) storage facility

  • It’s wonderful to get this glimpse at such an astonishing amount of treasures.

    dw says:
  • WOW………..that is one hell of a collection. But why so many of what appear to be the same item?
    These photographs should be published in a series of books, with a write-up from the relevant experts on the background/history etc. Make that a downloadable Ebook. I would buy it.

    Johnb says:
  • What a fantastic collection!

    Beverly says:

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