Kenneth E. Behring Family Hall of Mammals

November 15, 2003 – Permanent

National Museum of Natural History
10th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

1st Floor, West Wing Floor Plan

This hall showcases some 274 mammals and explores their diversity and how they originated and adapted to changing landscapes and environments over the last 225 million years—from polar to desert regions and from dry to humid environments. The exhibition addresses such questions as: What is a mammal? Why do some mammals live in groups while others live alone? How many kinds of mammals are there and what are their habitat preferences? How are mammals related? How and why do scientists study mammals? The exhibition also shares information about the unusual—the oddest specimens (including egg-laying mammals), the rarest specimens (an okapi from Africa), and the oldest known mammal (Morganucadon) from 210 million years ago.

Highlights include:

  • various habitats: Africa, North America, South America, and Australia
  • an Evolution Theater with an 8-minute film. Seated on a bench in the theater is a bronze sculpture of a chimpanzee named Harriet.
  • Discovery areas that include computer interactives, touchable objects, and educational question-and-answer stations for families
  • A small area in the South America section highlights the work of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and the history and background of Barro Colorado Island, Panama, where STRI scientists do research.