Find answers to general questions about the National Museum of American History below. For more specific areas of interest, please see aditional topics listed to the right.

General Questions

Can I use an image from your website for a school project or other personal use?

Generally, permission is not required for personal, non-commercial, uses such as a personal website or school project. Appropriate credit to the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution should appear with the image. Images on our site which are credited to another person or organization may not be used without that party’s permission. For more information see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use.

How do I get rights to use a Smithsonian image for a book or for other commercial purposes?

Anyone wishing to use any text or images for commercial use, publication, or any purpose other than fair use as defined by law, must request and receive prior written permission from the Smithsonian Institution. Read more about Smithsonian copyright and image use.

I would like to know how much an artifact is worth. Can the Museum provide appraisals?

It is against Smithsonian policy to provide appraisal or valuation services. If you are interested in having an item appraised, we recommend you contact the American Society of Appaisers.

I have an artifact that I want to know more about, or find out how to properly take care of it. Where can I find more information?

The Smithsonian has posted Web pages with information and resources for identifying and caring for historical artifacts. Local and state historical societies, libraries, and professional appraisers are also good sources of information.

Someone from my family has donated an object to the Museum. Is it available for viewing?

The Museum is home to more than 3 million objects. The best way to find out if a particular object is available for viewing is to contact the Museum's Office of Curatorial Affairs by email.

Who should I contact about donating items to the Museum?

Please contact the Museum's Office of Curatorial Affairs by email to obtain the proper procedure for donating items to the Museum’s collections.

I need to research some historical facts for my homework assignment. Can you help?

The Museum does not have the resources to help with general historical research. We encourage you to make use of your local library or search reputable websites. Questions dealing with specific areas relevant to Museum research or staff expertise should be directed to the appropriate curatorial division or staff member.

What are the opportunities for research at the Museum?
  • Libraries: Research may be done in the National Museum of American History Branch Library and the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology which are open to the public by appointment only. Please call the Library's staff to schedule an appointment. National Museum of American History Branch Library: 202-633-3865; Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology: 202-633-3872
  • Artifact Collections: Access to collection materials generally requires making a research appointment with the appropriate curatorial division.
  • Archives Center: Researchers are invited to make an appointment and consult with a reference specialist in the Archives Center.
  • Fellowships: Fellowships at the Smithsonian Institution provide students and scholars with opportunities to pursue independent research projects in association with members of the Smithsonian professional research staff. More information.
How can I purchase Museum merchandise?

You can purchase merchandise onsite at one of our Museum stores. You can also shop the Smithsonian Catalog at www.smithsonianstore.com.

May I create a link to your site?

We welcome and encourage any links to the National Museum of American History website. However, use of Smithsonian logos or images as link buttons is not permitted.

Something on the website isn’t working or I’ve found a broken link. How can I let someone know?

Please use the comment form to notify the Webmaster. We appreciate your feedback!

What is the Kenneth E. Behring Center? Who is Mr. Behring, and why is the Center named after him?

California philanthropist Kenneth E. Behring made the largest single gift to the Smithsonian Institution in the fall of 2000, donating $20 million to the National Museum of Natural History and $80 million to the National Museum of American History for a total of $100 million. In recognition of this gift, the building that houses the National Museum of American History was designated as the "Kenneth E. Behring Center." The name of the Museum has not changed.

How large is the Museum?

The Museum contains 300,000 square feet of exhibition, programming and public space. Office and other non-public spaces are not included in this figure.

Why are certain popular culture objects no longer on exhibition?

With limited space and a need to conserve objects, curators and museum executives often make decisions to remove objects, which were once on exhibit. Lighting, humidity, and many other factors may cause objects to become exposed to irreversible damage over time. This precaution allows the objects to last for future generations. Many objects will rotate in and out of exhibition, so always check our website or contact the Museum's Office of Curatorial Affairs by email for details.

This blog post provides additional explanation and a case study.

How long should I plan for my visit to the Museum?

It is difficult to say how much time it would take to visit any of the Smithsonian museums. So much depends on the age and interests of those in your group. We recommend that you review our list of exhibitions and our daily event calendar to get a sense of the kinds of activities you’d like to participate in during your visit. You may also wish to sign up for our free email newsletter for the latest information.

I am interested in becoming an exhibition designer. What should I do?

Exhibit designers have typically entered the field from a myriad of disciplines--industrial design, interior design, graphic design, and architectural design being the most common. Currently there are graduate programs in the field of museum exhibition planning and design. There are undergraduate programs that allow students to concentrate their studies in exhibit design.  A good Web site to begin your search on is run by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. It gives a good overview of the design profession in general and you can click on FAQs for students and parents to get information on lists of accredited art and design colleges. You should also check out the professional organizations that designers and museum professionals belong to: http://www.aam-us.org, http://www.idsa.org/, http://www.segd.org/, to name a few.

I will be coming straight from the airport. Are there lockers or some way to store my bag while I visit the Museum?

The Museum has a limited number of lockers available. The dimensions are:

Small- Height 16", Width of door 8.5", Width of interior 12", Depth 16"
Medium- Height 22", Width of door 8.5", Width of interior 12", Depth 16"
Large- Height 34", Width of door 8.5", Width of interior 12", Depth 16"
Due to the narrow width of our lockers, carry-on suitcases most likely will not fit into even the largest lockers. There is no other facility for checking bags.
Is Internet access available for visitors in the Museum?

Free Wi-Fi access is available throughout most public areas of the museum. Look for the 'si-visitor' network.

Can I hold my wedding at the Museum?

No. Social events of a personal nature (weddings, birthdays, bar mitzvahs) at not permitted at the Smithsonian. 

Learn more about Special Events that are permitted at the Museum. 

National Mall locations where weddings are permitted can be found on the National Park Service permits page