PHOTOS: Smithsonian Museum Opens ‘Objects of Wonder’ Exhibit Friday

Set up to feel like a behind-the-scenes tour, the Smithsonian's "Objects of Wonder" exhibit will open Friday at the National Museum of Natural History.

11 photos
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Smithsonian Institution; Henn GmbH
L: Coleoptera (beetles), Chip Clark / Smithsonian Institution. R: Lapis lazuli, Lichtblick Fotodesign, Jürgen & Hiltrud Cullmann, Schwollen, Germany. Courtesy of Henn GmbH.
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Chip Clark/ Smithsonian Institution
The "Objects of Wonder" exhibit will display a variety of different beetles and other insects. Beetles account for 40 percent of insect species and 30 percent of all animal species, according to the Smithsonian website.
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Lichtblick Fotodesign, Jürgen & Hiltrud Cullmann, Schwollen, Germany. Courtesy of Henn GmbH
The "Blue Flame" is a 250-pound lapis lazuli gem. It was found in Afghanistan and is one of the largest and finest known pieces of lapis lazuli.
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Stanley Yankowski/Smithsonian Institution
"Objects of Wonder" has one of the largest collections of exotic wood. The uniqueness and beauty of these woods can be seen even at the cellular level. This photo shows the cellular structure of four different types of exotic wood.
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Dave Rosenthal/Smithsonian Institution
Barkcloth is used for ceremonies and daily life on many Pacific islands. According to the Smithsonian website, museum curators collaborate with island artists to both better understand and preserve barkcloth.
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Coralline algae have extremely long lives and preserve records of the expansion or retreat of sea ice in their crusts. Smithsonian botanist Walter Adey discovered through this algae that sea ice has "rapidly declined" over the past 150 years, according to the exhibit website.
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James Di Loreto/Smithsonian Institution
Cowries have glossy and colorful shells, and have historically been used as ornaments and currency. "Objects of Wonder" has more than 50,000 cowries on display.
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Donald E. Hurlbert/ Smithsonian Institution
Martha was the last-living passenger pigeon. She lived at the Cincinnati Zoo and drew in huge crowds, but died in 1914. Now, "Objects of Wonder" has a taxidermy mount of her remains on display.
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Michael Brett-Surman/Smithsonian Institution
This nearly complete fossil is of an early pinniped, one of the earliest members of a group that now also includes seals, sea lions and walruses today. This animal had flippers and lived in the water, but also had some bones similar to its land-living ancestors. This fossil helps scientists to understand the land-to-sea evolution.
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James Di Loreto/Smithsonian Institution
"Objects of Wonder" displays this painted Tsimshian house front from Canada. It is one of the only complete Tsimshian house fronts in a museum.
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Barry Brown / Substation Curacao and Cedric Guigand / University of Miami
Smithsonian scientists used DNA barcoding to link a mysterious fish larva (R) found in the Florida Straits to a new species of adult sea bass (L) discovered near the coast of Curacao.
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