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The Na­tional Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory in Wash­ing­ton D.C. is a des­ti­na­tion for around seven mil­lion peo­ple ev­ery year, mak­ing it the most vis­ited nat­u­ral his­tory mu­seum in the world. But many of hu­man­ity’s real trea­sures are hid­den away be­hind the scenes where al­most no­body can see them. Cov­er­ing a to­tal area of 139,000 square me­tres, the build­ing is the size of 19 foot­ball fields. But only 30,000 square me­tres is ac­ces­si­ble to vis­i­tors, mean­ing more than 90% of the mu­seum’s huge in­ven­tory is stored back­stage. Among them are 30 mil­lion in­sects pinned in­side tiny boxes and 4.5 mil­lion plants pressed onto sheets of pa­per. The mu­seum also owns around two mil­lion cul­tural arte­facts, in­clud­ing 400,000 pho­to­graphs.

In to­tal, 126 mil­lion an­i­mals, plants and cul­tural arte­facts are ei­ther on dis­play or stored in the mu­seum’s vaults. TREA­SURE OF THE EARTH

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