Forensics at NMHM

Forensics at NMHM

NMHM provides programs, exhibits and collects materials related to the process of human identification with a specific focus on its role in military medicine. NMHM's collections support students and researchers who are interested in studying forensics. These collections are also used by staff who may be called as consultants in forensic cases, interns who plan to go into the field of forensics, and other military and civilian professionals who would like to study specimens and artifacts related to biological anthropology and human identification.

Anthropologists 3D scan
Anthropologists 3D scan an anatomical specimen at NMHM.
Identifying Human Remains
View of the "Identifying Human Remains" exhibit at NMHM.

Forensic Fridays

Originally designed as a program that took place once a month on Fridays at the museum, "Forensic Fridays" lesson plans and accompanying materials are now available as a learning resource that may be used at home or at school. The lesson plans, lab notebook, and forensic resource images are designed to be used together to complete activities. Students will practice a variety of identification activities that contribute to a case study. These activities include some of the following: recovery and examination of material evidence, dental charting, developing a biological profile, and DNA analysis. All activities, including optional activities, are included in the downloadable lab notebook.

Virtual Exhibit

"RESOLVED: Advances in Forensic Identification of U.S. War Dead"

Science Cafés

April 2019: "Finding Our Lost"
Related article: "Locate, Recover, Identity: Forensic Anthropologist Accounts for Missing Service Members"

July 2019: "Exploring Emerging DNA Technologies in Identifying Historic Human Remains"

Guiding Questions for Science Cafés

Additional Resources

Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Video

Other articles:

"Paul Revere and Joseph Warren: An Early Case of Forensic Identification"

"Giving a Face to the Past: Museum Works with FBI Forensic Artist to Bring History to Life"

"Modernizing Medical Museums through the 3D Digitization of Pathological Specimens"

"Museum's Anatomical Curator Talks Forensic Anthropology with Students for "Nifty Fifty" Series, Part of the USA Science and Engineering Festival"

Tour Options: Call (301) 319-3312 or to schedule a visit, an outreach program, or to inquire about a virtual experience.
  • Forensic Mystery Workshop (Grades 5 and up):
    After an introduction to forensic identification, participants work in small groups to examine a set of bones and other evidence to determine the identity of an unknown person. This program is available as an educator-led workshop. A teacher's guide is available with activity suggestions, vocabulary, and a description of the program. Approximate duration: 60 minutes. Workshop limited to 30 students (and minimum 10 students).
  • Discovery Cart: Human Identification (Forensics):
    Discover the science behind the identification of human remains. Through a guided discovery, learn how to gather information from a set of bones to estimate age, sex, height, trauma, and develop a dental profile. (Ages 11+)