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"Hall Of Human Origins" Opens On Anniversary Of Museum's Origins

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Starting with a cast skull, artist John Gurche builds layers of muscle, fat, and skin to create hyper-realistic busts of human ancestors featured in the new David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. Pictured: Homo neanderthalensis.
© 2010, John Gurche
Starting with a cast skull, artist John Gurche builds layers of muscle, fat, and skin to create hyper-realistic busts of human ancestors featured in the new David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. Pictured: Homo neanderthalensis.

By Stephanie Kaye

One of the Smithsonian museums turns one hundred years old today. And along with a birthday party, the Museum of Natural History will unveil a new exhibit at the exact time its doors first opened.

Although museum director Christian Samper wasn't there, he says he can imagine the scene.

"When it opened back in 1910, this was the second largest building that existed here, after the capitol. It was a grandiose building, a great place to showcase the world to the people of Washington," says Samper.

To celebrate its 100th year, the museum will be taking a look back...way back.

"We're opening a major new exhibition devoted to the topic of human origins, and asking the fundamental question of what does it mean to be human," he says.

Special events and displays, including an exhibit of photos chronicling the museum's history, will recognize the anniversary throughout the year.

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