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.
Generally, permission is not required for personal, non-commercial, user, such as a personal Web site 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.
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.
It is against Smithsonian policy to place value on objects. If you are interested in having an item appraised, we recommend you contact the Appraisers Society of America at 703-478-2228. See here for 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. Questions may also be directed to the appropriate curatorial division; however, due to the volume of inquiries, we cannot promise to answer all requests.
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 Web sites. Questions dealing with specific areas relevant to Museum research or staff expertise should be directed to the appropriate curatorial division or staff member.
- 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.
You can purchase merchandise at three stores in our museum. The mall museum store, on the second floor, stocks the “best of” the Museum’s collection of merchandise. The main museum store is centrally located on the first floor. The Price of Freedom store, on the third floor, carries a large selection of military-themed merchandise. You can also shop for selected merchandise online at www.smithsonianstore.com.
We welcome and encourage any links to the National Museum of American History Web site. However, use of Smithsonian logos or images as link buttons is not permitted.
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The National Museum of American History's main Web site was designed by Mediatrope in collaboration with Museum staff.
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.
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.
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 overtime to become exposed to irreversible damage. This precaution allows the objects to last for future generations viewing pleasure. Many objects will rotate in and out of exhibition, so always check our Web site or contact the Museum's Office of Curatorial Affairs by email for details.
This blog post provides additional explanation about why exhibitions don't last forever.
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 list of events 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.
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: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos090.htm. 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.
The Museum has a limited number of lockers available. The dimensions are:
Free WiFi access is available in the Constitution Cafe (first floor) and the Stars and Stripes Cafe (lower level).