Smithsonian unveils New Fossil Hall by Reich&Petch

The Smithsonian Institution’s historic Hall of Fossils has been renovated into a new gallery with a theme that highlights 4.6 billion years of global change on earth.

Through an international competition, architecture and interior design firm, Reich&Petch were given the opportunity to design the Deep Time exhibit where visitors learn from the past, and recognize how humans are changing the future.

Photo courtesy of Reich&Petch

While the design expression celebrates the work of hundreds of artists, sculptors, writers, model makers, muralists, engineers and architects, Reich&Petch’s international design firm was responsible for the art direction and creative direction in the hall

Deep Time brings together insights from many departments of the museum to teach a contemporary audience the history of life on earth. The hall incorporates large fossil specimens, immersive environments, sculpture, miniature environmental dioramas, video and a circulation path that walks “through” time.

Hall of Fossils’ 31,000 square-foot exhibit illustrates the continuity between human impact and earlier geological eras by exploring how humans are affecting the present day of life.

Photo courtesy of Reich&Petch

The flow of life and time is an essential concept of the hall, which is reinforced by colourful ribbons with key messages that move from platform to platform.

A range of media and creative tools deliver exhibits that respond to the diverse techniques of how people can learn through touch, visual cues, intellectual engagement, and interactive multimedia.

Along the circulation path, ten areas that display different geologic eras (Quaternary, Cretaceous, Jurassic) highlight the fossil skeletons, plants and other organisms that lived in each period.

These areas include a variety of methods for visitors to engage in the abundance of ancient life via, models, murals, bronze casts, sculptures text and videos.

The Reich&Petch team, and the Smithsonian’s curators and scientists, used their artistry to integrate complex and dense ideas to fill this public space.

With its five galleries, seven disciplines, 100 major specimens, 600+ smaller specimens, and the combination of complex graphics, the exhibit’s creative team insured accuracy and scientific rigor.

Photo courtesy of Reich&Petch