Dig It! The Secrets of Soil

A wall of soil profiles

Children view a soil relieft

Children read signs near soils relief

Boy looking at lower part of soils relief

Girl viewing monitor with soils facts

Boys sharing monitor and learning soils facts

Children playing soils related games

A group reads a soils information sign together

Boy studying soils information alone

Children look at a Munsell soil color determination book

Children watch a cooking-reality TV show about soils

A soil profile with moveable parts helps engage and inform.

The moveable soil profile

This display demonstrates how various types of soil filters water.

Students guess which soil type will hold water and which will drain it.

Students learn about soil texture

Painting with soil paints.

Coloring with soil crayons

Take a Tour


Why an exhibit about soils?

Because Soils Sustain Life! Without soils, we would be hungry, homeless, and naked. We grow our food in soil, the materials for our homes come from soil, and many of the fabrics we wear come from...you guessed it, SOIL!

There are more living creatures in a shovelful of rich soil than there are people on the planet. Yet, more is known about the dark side of the moon than about soil. These are just a couple of the fascinating facts visitors can learn at the traveling exhibition, “Dig it! The Secrets of Soil.” The exhibit's founding sponsor is the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA).

What was the "Dig It!" exhibit?

The 4,000-square foot exhibition revealed the complex world of soil and how this underfoot ecosystem supports nearly every form of life on earth. Developed by the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History with support from SSSA, “Dig It!” included interactive displays, hands-on models, videos, and 54 soil monoliths representing soils from each U.S. state, territory, and the District of Columbia.

Its lead curator is Patrick Megonigal, a soil biogeochemist with the Smithsonian's Environmental Research Center and an SSSA member. Learn more on the Smithsonian’s "Dig It!" website.

In addition to funding from SSSA, the exhibit was made possible with generous support from Lead Sponsor, the Nutrients for Life Foundation, as well as Bayer CropScience, LI-COR Biosciences, Syngenta, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Dig It! now lives permanently at the Saint Louis Science Center! The soil monoliths became part of the science center's GROW exhibit. The ‘At Home in the World of Soil’ and ‘Underneath it All’ dioramas will become permanent parts of GROW as well. Other parts of Dig It! will be placed in their Ecology and Environment gallery and the Life Sciences Lab.

History and Locations of the Dig It! exhibit

2006-2008: Created by Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC

July 2008-Jan. 2010: On display at Smithsonian, Washington DC

Oct. 2010-Dec. 2010: First exhibited outside of DC at the Durham Museum, Omaha, NE

Feb. 2012-Sept. 2012: Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, Spokane, WA

Nov. 2012-July 2013: Bell Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

May 2014-March 2015: The California Museum, Sacramento, CA

May 16 to August 2015: North Carolina Natural Sciences Museum, Raleigh, NC


Soils Exhibits Around the World

Tacoma, Washington, USA, Aug. 6 - Dec 4, 2015Dirt? Scientists, Book Artists, and Poets Reflect on Soil and Our Environment

Netherlands: World Soil Museum

Luxembourg: Fertile Soils, Secret Lives

Canada: Soil Profiles of Canada

Brazil: Solos de Minas

Germany: ARTandSOILS

Spain: Soil - Walking on LIfe

Russia: Vasily Dokuchaev Museum of Soil Science

Germany: Osnabrück University displays

Poland: Soil Education Centre

Dubai: Emirates Soil Museum


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