The Division of Amphibians and Reptiles is accessible to qualified scientists and graduate students who wish to use the National Collection of Amphibians and Reptiles and the divisional library for research. The division does not offer tours to the general public. Some times of year are particularly busy (e.g. summer months); therefore, it is important to complete our Visitor Registration Form well in advance of your anticipated arrival so we can make arrangements for your visit. We request at least one month advance notice for shorter visits (duration up to 30 days). Visits longer than 30 days require an institutional security background check; therefore, we request three to six months advance notice for visits over 30 days.
Logistics of Visiting the National Collection
The National Collection of Amphibians and Reptiles at the National Museum of Natural History is divided between the Natural History Building (NHB) on the National Mall and the Museum Support Center (MSC) in Suitland, Maryland. The vast majority of the specimens are housed at the MSC, but the dry lizards are at the NHB. The Amphibians and Reptiles Division Library and the curators are housed at the NHB; most members of the collection management staff have their offices at the MSC.
All visitors to the NHB must initially arrive at the 10th and Constitution Avenue entrance and sign in with the security office located in the Constitution Avenue lobby. A security officer will contact a staff member, who will escort you to the Division. Parking at the NHB can be difficult to impossible. For this reason, visitors are encouraged to use public transportation whenever possible. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority subway stations at Smithsonian, Archives, l’Enfant Plaza (also a Virginia Railway Express station) and Federal Triangle are within walking distance to the NHB.
For visitors wishing to examine specimens at the MSC, a shuttle runs hourly during normal business hours, Monday – Friday, between the NHB and MSC (schedule). The trip takes about half an hour. Divisional staff will escort visitors from NHB to MSC on the visitor’s first day. Visitors with a car can drive directly to the MSC (directions). Visitors planning to bring comparative material into the MSC facility must let the Collections Management Staff know in advance.
Due to the amount of staff time involved in handling loans from other museums, we encourage visiting researchers to visit other U.S. natural history museums to examine specimens rather than having loans sent to the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) for examination. We will consider visitor requests to have loans sent from other institutions to NMNH on a case-by-case basis, and visitors must make arrangements with our staff at least one month in advance.
The Division of Amphibians and Reptiles is open from 8 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday (except federal holidays). Long term visitors desiring NHB access after hours and on weekends will need to discuss this possibility with the curatorial staff. Our collections at the MSC are not accessible after hours, on federal holidays, or on weekends.
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