66. From ‘Extinct Monsters’ to ‘Deep Time’: A History of the Smithsonian’s Fossil Hall 🦕

This week, we have an excellent new episode about the history of the most-visited room in the most-visited science museum in the world: the Fossil Hall at the National Museum of Natural History. Last week, the Fossil Hall reopened as Deep Time after a massive renovation.

But in this episode, we’re going back in time through all 100 years of renovations and iterations of the Fossil Hall with special guest Ben Miller, an exhibitions developer at the Field Museum in Chicago. From its opening as the Hall of Extinct Monsters in 1911, to renovations in the 60s and 80s, to the forceful climate crisis message of 2019’s Deep Time gallery, the Smithsonian Fossil Hall has answered life’s biggest questions. This story is not just a story of life on this planet but also the story of our changing understanding of how we fit into it.

Read the Plaque

Ben Miller, this episode's special guest, writes eloquently (and appropriately) at extinctmonsters.net. When I met him in person at Deep Time last week he said he was excited to finish his review of the new gallery. If you listened to the epsiode and wondered what he really thinks of the new gallery, his latest post is titled 'Deep Time Is A Masterpiece.'