Part of the "Beyond the Exhibition" series, which features the content, curators, and conversations inspiring new and developing exhibitions at the National Museum of Natural History.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History @ 10th St NW & Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

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Join marine biologist Chris Meyer as he takes you on a 30-year journey pursuing cowrie shells all over the world.

Throughout human history, people have collected cowrie shells because of their exquisite beauty. The shells have been used in ceremony and fortune telling, as ornamentation, currency, and status symbols, and as a model group for scientific study. Come learn what cowrie shells can teach us about biodiversity, rarity and value, and participate in testing your own perception of beauty. See how the shells have inspired Chris's research and appreciation for the natural world and help us answer the question: "Why do we collect things?"



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