Director of Smithsonian to give public lecture April 23

Kirk Johnson
Kirk Johnson

Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History will discuss the importance of Nebraska’s fossil record and its contribution to the great story of life on Earth on April 23.

The presentation “From Fossils to Freeways and from Shovel-Tuskers to Cornhuskers” will begin at 4:00pm in the Nebraska Union, 14th and R Streets on the UNL campus. This event is free and open to the public.

Celebrating its new designation as a Smithsonian Affiliate, the University of Nebraska State Museum welcomes Johnson to campus to discuss his appreciation for the paleontology of Nebraska and for the unique stories that it tells. Johnson’s past research has involved work at hundreds of fossil sites in the American West. While at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, he curated the Prehistoric Journey exhibition and wrote the book, Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway: An Epoch Tale of a Scientist and an Artist on the Ultimate 5,000-mile Paleo Road Trip. Johnson will make a case for the importance of Nebraska’s fossils in the global narrative of the evolution of life through time.

Johnson has been the Sant Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History since October 2012 where he is presently supervising the renovation of the Nation’s Fossil Halls. His research focuses on fossil plants, the extinction of the dinosaurs, and methods for dating rocks and fossils. He is known for his scientific books and articles, museum exhibits, presentations, and collaborations with artists. In 2010-11, Johnson led the Snowmastodon Project, the excavation of an amazing ice age site near Snowmass Village, Colorado featured in the NOVA documentary, Ice Age Death Trap.
Established in 1871, the University of Nebraska State Museum is the state's premier museum of natural history. The Museum is focused on promoting discovery in natural science, fostering scientific understanding and interpretation of the Earth’s past, present and future and enhancing stewardship of the natural and cultural heritage of Nebraska through world class exhibits, collections and special events. For more information go to

Written by: Mandy Haase