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If You Are Interested in Animals, You're in the Right Place

If You Are Interested in Animals, You're in the Right Place

By: Michelle Smith, Associate Director for Digital Media, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

When it comes to animals, the Smithsonian collections are amazingly rich and diverse, from fossils millions of years old to the creatures currently living at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo.  You can find examples of both—and many more—in the Smithsonian Learning Lab.  The following is a sample of resources and materials:

Artistic Animals

Ranging from artists’ sketches to paintings to photographs that document sculptures of animals in the United States, the Smithsonian American Art Museum can be your source for thousands of images.  Be aware though, that searching the Learning Lab database for “animals” will also bring up unexpected resources, such as “animated” devices and early animation photos.

Animals in Action

More than 1,200 videos about animals—the majority from a scientific perspective—are accessible via Learning Lab. In some of them, Smithsonian scientists in the field recorded their animal sightings and study. In others, scientists talk about their careers and research. And in still other videos, the focus is cultural, as in the “eagle dance” performed by members of the Cochiti Pueblo Indians or a tutorial on making origami birds.

Animals as Teachers

Educators have created more than 50 Learning Lab “animal” collections on topics ranging from life sciences to cultural and world history to the arts and language arts. Added bonus: looking at these collections as a group will give you a sense of the creative ways people are constructing lessons using the Smithsonian’s digital resources.


More animal resources are in Smithsonian Learning Lab than have been included here. To find them, try your own search for your favorite animal. Or see what Smithsonian magazine has to say, in thousands of well-researched articles.

Ultimately, expect the unexpected in your Smithsonian search, as in this remarkable view into 18th-century scientific investigation into animals.

Peaceable Kingdom (detail), by M.C. Latortue

Image: Peaceable Kingdom (detail), M.C. Latortue
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden