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National Geographic Museum

Behind the scenes: National Geographic Museum

Story by
postedAugust 27, 2019
We're pulling the curtain back to reveal all the hard work—and the number of talented staff—it takes to make exhibits come to life. Here, goes behind the scenes at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C.

It’s a full-circle kind of place. National Geographic, a household name, is a nonprofit institution, providing grants to scientists, explorers and educators. And in turn, the National Geographic Museum’s installations are always displaying the work of those people.

The team changes exhibits every five months or so, depending on where in the world that exhibition is traveling to next (much like the artists and storytellers).

National Geographic Museum exterior
National Geographic Museum

“With our museum being located at National Geographic headquarters, we have the unique opportunity to showcase the work of our explorers and photographers,” says Group Sales Specialist Brianna DeOrsey. “Our exhibitions range from photography exhibitions and large artifact displays to multimedia immersive exhibitions like ‘Tomb of Christ,’ which uses virtual reality to tell the story behind the historical renovation of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Our explorers are using new technology in the field, such as augmented reality, and we get to integrate that technology into our exhibitions.”

One of these rotating exhibitions is “Queens of Egypt,” a collection from the Museo Egizio in Italy highlighting women’s role in Egyptian society. “Exploration Starts Here,” a permanent collection, is a celebration of National Geographic Society’s 131-year history.

And that varied history is one of the most special things about the museum’s exhibitions, DeOrsey says, which means they’re always putting together displays with different content and themes.

National Geographic Museum permanent exhibit
National Geographic Museum permanent exhibit

“When we develop exhibitions, we take a concept, build a narrative using the storytelling that National Geographic is known for, supplement with content from our history, and weave in elements that make exhibitions accessible to anyone who comes through the door,” she says.

The museum’s upcoming exhibit, “Becoming Jane,” will be dedicated to the life, work and legacy of primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall. The exhibition, to open in November, will feature personal artifacts, interactive installations and video testimonials.

For more information, contact DeOrsey or go to

Photos by Rebecca Hale/National Geographic

For more behind the scenes looks check out 7 museums you need to visit now.


Support for Courier articles provided by:
Cincinnati Museum Center
Friends of San Felipe de Austin
History Colorado
J. Paul Getty Museum
Milwaukee Public Museum
The Mob Museum
The National World War II Museum
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum
U.S. Space & Rocket Center