The Smithsonian Institution

National Museum of Natural History - West Court Dining Hall

Washington, DC

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History contains a world-renowned record of earth’s dramatic history and caters to several million annual visitors. Its halls celebrate the vital role of earth’s ecosystems and the greater natural world – the inspiration behind EwingCole’s renovation of the museum’s West Court Dining Hall. Museum curators wanted to keep food options confined to a single area and create a space that more accurately represents the broader story of our relationship with the natural world. The renovation includes a dual-level atrium containing a more efficient layout, additional food service options, and improved seating. The design, inspired by natural colors such as woods, metals, stone, and polished concrete, is warm and inviting. Two key elements of the space include the Ocean Terrace Café’s custom wall super graphic of an early 19th-century oceanic illustration. The scenes depict various types of colorful jellyfish and coral, paying homage to early, complex marine life. A two-thousand-pound megalodon replica hangs over the atrium space, overlooking guests as they dine.