New Dino Hall “Deep Time” Opens at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History / by Liz Maurer

The exhibit was five years in the making. The exhibit’s subject matter was 4.6 billion years. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History’s newest permanent exhibition the David H. Koch Hall of Fossils – Deep Time opened to the public June 8, 2019. The redesigned 31,000-square-foot fossil hall explores the epic story of how Earth’s distant past is connected to the present and informs humanity’s future. Design and Production Incorporated provided fabrication, installation, and audiovisual integration services.

The story begins at the beginning, the Earth’s beginning specifically. Visitors follow the thread of time through the evolution of life on Earth, learning how organisms responded to constantly-changing environments. Over 700 fossil specimens—including T. rex readying to tear the head off Triceratops—illustrate rise and fall of species, from dominance to extinction.

Visitors will pick up on the fact that things are changing through time, ecosystems are changing as well as animals, and it’s an interconnected system from the beginning of life to the future.
— Smithsonian vertebrate paleontology curator, Anna Kay Behrensmeyer

Time is a continuum, and interactive exhibits encourage visitors to explore how their personal choices will impact the environment into the future. They consider the consequences that human activity are having and will have on the Earth’s rapidly changing climate.

We now study the fossil record because it helps us understand the processes by which the Earth and life changed through time, and being geologic-scale changers of the environment ourselves, we need to know how those things work and how we’re changing them now.
— Smithsonian paleobotanist, Scott Wing

The project’s complexity was not limited to the subject matter. The exhibition was closely linked to the overall building renovation project, whose goal was to restore the exhibit hall’s historic architecture to its original, 1910 grandeur. The renovation and exhibit projects overlapped, requiring close collaboration between D&P, the Museum, and the renovation contractors. The multi-layered exhibit design uses many interpretive techniques to convey the exhibit’s core messages. Exhibit design firm Reich+Petch Design International and AV and Multimedia Software Designer Richard Lewis Media Group’s (RLMG) experience design encourages deep interaction with Deep Time’s content.

D&P was responsible for the preparation of shop drawings, construction/fabrication of exhibit elements, model making, bronze sculptures, dioramas, bracketing and installation of specimens, custom illustration and graphic production, AV hardware procurement and installation/integration, lighting procurement and installation, installation of exhibit elements, and preparation of accurate as-built drawings, maintenance manuals and instructions.

Exhibit Design: Reich+Petch Design International

AV and Multimedia Software Design: Richard Lewis Media Group (RLMG)