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An Exhibition Without Walls

Most of the exhibitions Smithsonian Exhibits (SIE) works on have walls, not to mention a roof. But recently, SIE collaborated with Smithsonian Gardens on an exhibition without either.

Last year, we blogged about an interpretive master plan we did with Smithsonian Gardens for their new Smithsonian-wide exhibition series. Now, the first of those exhibitions—Habitat—is open to visitors (as well as the elements!)

Habitat features 14 exhibits displayed throughout the Smithsonian campus, including exterior and interior garden spaces. Follow the map here to explore them all.


A map showing the locations of the 14 Habitat exhibits
A map showing the locations of the 14 Habitat exhibits. Image courtesy of Smithsonian Gardens.


The exhibits tell diverse stories about habitats and the plants, animals, and humans that call them home. But they all share one big idea: Protecting habitats protects life.


A pink, blue, and brown exhibit panel in a garden, with the title "Homes: Make Your Garden a Home"
The Homes exhibit in the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden offers tips on how you can transform your garden into a habitat for creatures great and small.


A pink, blue, and brown exhibit panel in a garden with an abstract red sculpture in the background
Monarchs on the Move, outside the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, provides a pit stop for migrating monarch butterflies. Image courtesy of Smithsonian Gardens.


SIE assisted Smithsonian Gardens with developing and editing the content, which was designed and produced out of house.


A large, wooden mushroom-shaped sculpture in a garden
Large-scale sculptures by artist Foon Sham draw visitors into several of the exhibits. Image courtesy of Smithsonian Gardens.


Two ducks swimming in a pond with an exhibit panel next to it
Ducks enjoy their habitat in the Sign of the Dragonfly exhibit in the Enid A. Haupt Garden.


The content team worked closely with Smithsonian curators and other experts to connect each exhibit to its neighboring museum. The result gives visitors a taste of the Smithsonian’s incredible range and diversity before they even set foot inside a museum.


A pink, blue, and brown exhibit panel titled "Love Oaks: A Gathering Place"
Sheltering Branches, outside the National Museum of African American History and Culture, explores the important roles live oaks play both as a habitat and as a symbol of strength and resilience. Image courtesy of Smithsonian Gardens.


A blue exhibit panel titled "Reef Recovery"
Several of the exhibits highlight the important work of Smithsonian scientists and conservationists and how you can help protect habitats.


So this summer, enjoy the great outdoors while taking in this great exhibition. Just remember to bring the sunscreen!