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Detail of Santo Domingo pot (NMNH catalog no. E418990A)
Planning a Consultation Visit

bulletNational Museum of Natural History Travel Grants
bulletPlanning a Consultation Visit to the Repatriation Office of the National Museum of    Natural History
bulletGetting to the National Museum of Natural History

The Repatriation Review Committee offers grants in support of Native American tribal representatives visiting the Repatriation Office at the National Museum of Natural History in order to consult with museum staff on repatriation cases and associated tribal collections.


The Smithsonian Castle originally housed all of the new Institution's operations, including laboratories, lecture halls, and museum galleries. While the Smithsonian campus has grown, this unique Gothic Revival structure remains the symbol of the Institution.
Photo credit: Smithsonian Photographic Services Number: 90-6258, Photo by Jeff Tinsley, 1990.

A consultation visit normally consists of a meeting to discuss repatriation issues, the progress of a pending repatriation case, an orientation to the documentation procedure, and an examination of the collections. The grant may cover transportation, hotel accommodations, meal allowance, and local travel allowance, normally for two tribal representatives.

bulletTravel Grants for Consultations (updated November 2015) pdf file
If you would like to travel to the National Museum of Natural History for a consultation visit, please use this form.

bulletTravel Grants for Repatriations (updated November 2015) pdf file
If you plan to travel to the National Museum of Natural History to complete a repatriation, please use this form.

Small Map

Map of Washington D.C. and surrounding area showing the location of the Smithsonian.
Larger view

bulletPrintable Version (pdf file)
Prior to a visit, you may wish to do the following:
  • Review the repatriation law and National Museum of Natural History Repatriation Office policy.
  • Review the summary and inventory information previously sent to the tribe.
  • Request funding for your trip through the grant program offered by the Smithsonian Repatriation Review Committee. Learn more about Travel Grants.
  • Ask for clarification of any collections information for which you have questions.
  • Ask us for any additional information that could help you better plan your visit.
Possible Issues to Discuss During Your Visit:
  • The museum's repatriation and documentation procedures.
  • Possibilities of cooperative agreements between the museum and a tribe for the care and use of collections subject to repatriation.
  • Traditional care concerns for objects in the collection.
  • Objects or categories of objects that are of special concern.
  • Possibilities for collaboration in documenting collections.
Things to Know about Examining Collections:
  • Large collections may have more items than can be viewed in detail in the time available during the visit; it may be useful to prioritize categories of objects or specific items.
  • Collection-related documents can provide important information not found in other sources. These include accession records, catalog records, photographs and field notes. You may copy any materials you need during your visit.
  • Many objects that are classified as "Unknown Affiliation" might be identifiable through examination or documentation research. You may wish to look at these items and review their documentation.
  • You may photograph and videotape objects, and transcribe or photocopy documents.
  • The National Museum of Natural History has private spaces available for viewing objects or holding ceremonies, both at the storage facility in Maryland and in the downtown museum.

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Repatriation Office

The Repatriation Office is located inside the National Museum of Natural History. Visitors can enter from Madison Dr. on the Mall side of the building or from Constitution Ave and 10th St., NW.
Photo credit: Smithsonian Photographic Services Number: 80-12932, Photo by Dane A. Penland, 1980.

National Museum of Natural History
The National Museum of Natural History is located on the National Mall in Downtown Washington, DC. There are two entrances to the building. Visitors can enter from Madison Dr. on the Mall side of the building, directly across from the Smithsonian Castle, or from Constitution Ave and 10th St., NW. At both entrances, visitors will have to go through metal detectors and have their bags inspected. When visiting the Repatriation Office, ask the guard at the door to direct you to the security desk. Tell the guard who you are here to see and their phone number, or you may call the main Repatriation Office number at 202-633-1899. The guard at the security desk will contact us so we can send someone down to escort you to our office.

Museum Support Center
The Museum Support Center houses most of the ethnographic and archaeological objects from the National Museum of Natural History Museum. It is located 20 minutes from downtown Washington, DC in Suitland, MD, next to the National Museum of the American Indian Cultural Resources Center.

Museum Support Center

Appointments must be made in advance of a visit through the Repatriation Office staff to view the collections at the Museum Support Center.

In order to view the collections at the Museum Support Center, or to visit the National Anthropological Archives, also located at the Museum Support Center, an appointment must be made in advance. Repatriation Office staff will set up these appointments for visitors on a repatriation consultation visit. The Smithsonian offers free shuttle service from the Mall entrance of the Natural History Museum to the Museum Support Center. It is also possible to use the Metrorail system to reach the Museum Support Center. The Suitland Metro stop on the Green line is located less than a mile walk from the Museum Support Center.

Three major airports service the Washington Metropolitan area. Dulles International and Baltimore Washington International (BWI) tend to offer less expensive airfares because they are located outside the city, but check with your airline or travel agent. Washington-Reagan Airport is the closest to downtown Washington and the National Museum of Natural History.

Baltimore/Washington International Airport
Baltimore, MD, (301) 261-1000, 1-800-I-FLY-BWI
Approximately 30 miles from Washington, DC. Ground transportation options include train, taxi, SuperShuttle and BWI Express. One way fares range from $4.10-$55. Travel time to the museum and downtown ranges from 30-50 minutes by car.

Dulles International Airport
Dulles, VA, (703) 572-2700
Approximately 26 miles west of the city. Ground transportation options include taxi (approx. $55), SuperShuttle (approx. $25), Washington Flyer Service between Dulles and the West Falls Church Metro Stop (every half hour, $14 round trip, $8 one way). Travel time to downtown ranges from 45 minutes to 1 hour plus by car.

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
Arlington County, VA, (703) 417-8000
Accessible by Metrorail's blue or yellow line. SuperShuttle and taxi fare to downtown ranges from approximately $12-$15. Travel time to downtown is approximately 15-20 minutes.

(202) 637-7000
Metro is the local above-ground and below-ground public transportation within the D.C. area. Fares range from $1.35 to $3.90. Maps and farecard machines are prominently located in each station. The Smithsonian Station is located on the orange and blue lines. Be sure to take the Mall exit. Once above ground, you will be facing east and the NMNH is to the north. The National Museum of Natural History is a large white stone building with a blue-green dome, and it is directly across the Mall from the red stone building known as the Smithsonian Castle.

D.C. cabs do not use meters. The number of zones crossed on a trip sets the fare. Surcharges apply for rush hour, extra passengers, and luggage. Minimum fare is about $5. Your taxi driver will not automatically offer you a receipt, so be sure to ask for one.

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Smithsonian Institute - National Mueseum of Natural History