David H. Koch Hall of Fossils – Deep Time

by Reich & Petch Design International

The Hall of Fossils - Deep Time exhibition at The Smithsonian Institution presents an integrated perspective bringing together collections and insights from all seven of SI’s science departments: Paleobiology, Mineral Sciences, Botany, Entomology, Vertebrate Zoology, Invertebrate Zoology, and Anthropology.

Working closely with museum staff, R&P translated and illustrated.4.6 billion years of biological history and global collections. The gallery design was developed concurrently with the restoration of the heritage architecture. Delivering a tour de force design of densely layered collections and information, R&P led the project for one of the most ambitious exhibitions in the history of the Smithsonian.

Deep Time offers visitors a better understanding of the history of life on Earth using exquisitely preserved large fossil specimens, immersive environments, sculptures and bronze casts, miniature environmental models, video, images and text, interactive media and a circulation path that is a walk-through of the evolution of life.

The magnificent central space of the gallery was designed as an open thoroughfare for visitors to circulate and navigate the specimens. It is arranged as a rapid descent into deep time, starting from the recent past at the main entry at the Museum Rotunda.

Along the central spine of the gallery, 10 distinct areas illustrate different geological eras moving backwards in time (from Quaternary to Cretaceous to Jurassic, etc) highlighting fossil skeletons, plants and other organisms that lived in each era. With over six million visitors per year, opportunities for interaction had to be abundant and robust, and space needed to be generous.

The continuous flow of life and time is one of the most important concepts of the Hall, reinforced throughout the interpretive spaces with colorful sculptural graphic installations expressing key messages at each platform. At specific points, exhibits are disrupted by dramatic, sculptural Extinction Walls. The design expresses the central message: Life...


Silver in Interaction Design 2020

Bronze in Integrated Graphic Design 2020

Created by:

Design Director

Stephen Petri: Design Director Pauline Dolovich: Senior Designer

Design Company

Reich & Petch Design International


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Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History

Design Team

Stephen Petri: Principal In Charge, Design Director Pauline Dolovich: Principal, Senior Designer Fang Pin Lee: Senior Designer Vivien Chow...


Entrant Companies

Reich & Petch Design International, CA

Individual Credits

Photography: ©Christopher Payne/Esto, Christopher Payne/Esto