Dinosaurs return to Smithsonian fossil hall after 5-year renovation

After five fossil-less years, T. rex is roaring back to the Smithsonian.

The David H. Koch Hall of Fossils — Deep Time at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, will reopen Saturday after being closed for the past five years.

The exhibit features over 700 fossils ranging from giants like Tyrannosaurus rex to fossilized animals and even plants and bugs. CNN got a preview of the 31,000-square-foot exhibit Tuesday.

“The exhibition tells the story of 3.7 billion years of life on Earth, highlighting the connections among ecosystems, climate, geological forces and evolution and encouraging visitors to understand that the choices they make today will have an impact on the future,” according to the museum.

The hall aims to “chronicle of the entire history of life” by illustrating the origins, evolution and changing surroundings of different species, according to a museum press release. The exhibit’s themes include “All Life is Connected,” “Evolution,” “Ecosystems Change,” “Earth Processes,” “Extinction,” and “Age of Humans and Global Change.”

Visitors can learn “about the myriad ways in which humans are causing rapid, unprecedented change to the planet” in the Warner Age of Humans Gallery, which was made in conjunction with the Anthropocene Advisory Committee, a panel of climate change scholars and educators. Museum guests can also watch scientists prepare fossils in the FossiLab, per the release.

Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the National Museum of Natural History, said that while the interactive exhibit provides an experience steeped in the past, it also addresses questions about Earth’s current and future challenges.

“Visitors to the new hall will go on a voyage like no other—a journey that begins in the past and ends in the future,” Johnson said in a statement. “Along the way, they will experience the history of life on Earth—a story told through extraordinary fossils and engaging interactive exhibits.”

“Visitors will also be called upon to consider the very real challenges our planet faces and their role in shaping a desirable future,” he added.

The hall’s construction cost $110 million, of which $70 million was federal appropriations for the renovations and $40 million was privately raised, according to the museum press release.

A celebratory ceremony at 10:15 a.m. on the exhibition’s opening day is open to the first 300 visitors to the museum’s Madison Drive entrance, featuring remarks by Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton and Johnson.

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