Update on Earthquake Damage at the Smithsonian

August 24, 2011
News Release

Update: As of Tuesday, Aug. 30, the Smithsonian Castle Building has re-opened to staff and visitors.


All public museums are open and have been determined safe for visitors and staff. 

We are continuing to assess the damage our buildings sustained during the earthquake on Aug. 23. The most serious structural damage we have sustained has been to the Smithsonian Castle Building on the National Mall and our storage facility in Suitland, Md. The Castle is currently closed to the public and to staff. Our storage facility, which is not a public facility, is currently closed to staff.

Damage to the Smithsonian Castle

  • Five decorative turrets on the east side of the Castle sustained significant damage. We are working to secure them so they will not sustain further damage during this weekend’s expected hurricane.


Damage to our collections

  • Fifty jars of scientific specimens preserved in alcohol at the National Museum of Natural History fell from their shelves. The specimens have been collected and re-secured in temporary holdings. The museum currently holds close to 1 million jarred specimens.

  • Eight jars of fish specimens located at our storage facility in Suitland, Md. fell from their shelves. The specimens have been collected and re-secured in temporary holdings.

We are continuing to assess damage to our collections at our museums and storage facility.  The Smithsonian currently holds 137 million artifacts, objects and specimens. Read more about the size and content of our collections on our Collections Fact Sheet.

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Media Only

Linda St. Thomas

(202) 633-5188

stthomasl@si.edu