Explore the human species' evolutionary history—a still-unfolding story that began in Africa some 7 million years ago—while surrounded by dioramas of African wildlife and a splashing colony of African penguins.

Lions and cheetahs face off with zebras and antelope through the glass windows of their detailed displays. At the far end, a breeding colony of African penguins dip and dive in their 25,000-gallon tank. At the entrance, Human Odyssey invites you to contemplate our species' origins.

Welcome to African Hall, where you can compare fossils of early human ancestors, walk alongside a computer animation of the famous "Lucy" skeleton, and follow the clues scientists use to investigate our past.

Open daily. Find it on our interactive map.

A view of the Human Odyssey exhibit, with visitors studying an interactive migration map.

Human Odyssey

Trace the milestones of our species’ evolution and migrations in Human Odyssey, a dramatic addition to Tusher African Hall.

Five African penguins gather on a rock at feeding time.

African penguin colony

The birds found in our lively, 25,000-gallon tank are part of a Species Survival Plan, an international program aimed at protecting the genetic lineages of this endangered species. Watch them via webcam!

Two graceful African antelope stand in a colorful diorama.

Immersive dioramas

We've recreated 12 stunning dioramas from the Academy's original African Hall (which opened in 1934) and added nine new ones packed with some of the landscapes and wildlife that make Africa special. 

Selam diorama; Photo: Kathryn Whitney

Meet Selam

"Selam," a near-complete fossilized skeleton of a 3.3 million-year-old A. afarensis child, comes to life in a new diorama amid stories of how her discovery has shaped our understanding of human history.