All Smithsonian museums and Smithsonian Libraries locations continue to be closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. We are not announcing a re-opening date at this time and will provide updates on a regular and as-needed basis.
Why are centuries-old natural history books vital to scientific research? Our scientists consult early printed materials to compare historical descriptions with modern specimens. These researchers use the rare book collection of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries' new Joseph F. Cullman, 3rd, Library of Natural History.
Wonder-rooms and curiosity cabinets appeared in the 1500s, as wealthy Europeans displayed objects and specimens collected during trading voyages and exploring expeditions. Books-such as these-allowed scientists and collectors to share their observations.