The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History just reopened their newly renovated 31,000 square-foot fossil hall. The highly-anticipated exhibit, Deep Time, illuminates how “Earth’s distant past is connected to the present and informs our future”. Encapsulating billions of years of our planet’s scientific and biological history, its interpretive program is framed by themes of connection, evolution, extinction, and climate change. Displaying over 700 fossil specimens, interpretive text, dioramas, murals, and more, visitors are invited to travel through ancient ecosystems to witness the evolution of life.
A key message from the exhibit is how human activity is driving Earth’s rapidly changing climate, not dissimilar from the impact of geological events from the distant past. This is emphasized by extinct organisms, which are integrated within the ecological program to convey how life has been forced to adapt in the past. The goal of Deep Time is to provide visitors with the tools to interpret the past, present, and future while emphasizing how all life is connected. This spectacular new exhibit ultimately asks visitors to consider how our behaviour today will impact the future of the planet, in deep time. While its funding source is inherently problematic (and highlights a much larger issue museums are now facing), the curators undeniable put the $35 million donation to good use as the exhibit takes a deep dive into the impact of climate change and showcases solutions in detail.
Check out this video to learn more about the exhibit.