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Inside Smithsonian Libraries: The Cullman Library

In-Person Program

Morning Tour

Friday, August 4, 2023 - 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. ET
Code: 1CSC09
Tour meets in the Constitution Ave lobby of
the National Museum of Natural History
(10th St & Constitution Ave NW)
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Leslie Overstreet reviews a volume in the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, which she heads (Smithsonian Libraries)

The largest and most diversified museum library system in the world, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives holds more than 2 million items in a network of 21 library research centers and an institutional archive throughout Washington, D.C.; Maryland; New York; and Panama. These rich resources are used by Smithsonian curators, staff, researchers, and scholars, as well as members of the public.

Guided by outreach librarian Erin Rushing, visit the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History for the National Museum of Natural History in a rare look at this research library, typically open by appointment only.

Upon arrival, tour Smithsonian Libraries and Archives’ newest exhibition, “Nature of the Book,” with the conservators who curated it. The exhibition focuses on books of the hand-press era (from about 1450 to the 19th century) through the natural materials—animal, vegetable, and mineral—that went into making them.

Then take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Cullman Library. This collection contains approximately 10,000 rare books, all published before 1840, on the natural sciences, including anthropology, mineralogy, and zoology. Some of the books came from James Smithson, the founding donor of the Smithsonian.

Know Before You Go

  • Tour participants meet in the lobby of the Constitution Avenue entrance to the National Museum of Natural History.

Additional Date Options for this Tour

General Information

  • Registration for this tour will end by 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, August 3, 2023.
  • Smithsonian is a mask-friendly environment. Masks are strongly recommended to be worn on buses at all times and may also be required at various indoor sites.
  • For additional tour information: