Plan Your Field Trip

Please note, as part of our safety measures to protect everyone’s health:

  • Masks are not required to visit the museum. Visitors may choose to wear a mask during their visit.
  • We ask groups larger than 12 to break into smaller groups while touring the museum.

For details please read our complete COVID-19 safety guidelines.

 

We welcome students and young visitors to the museum! Please let us know you are coming by pre-registering your group. Please note that this is not a tour reservation, and you are welcome to visit at any time during public visiting hours without registering. 

See below for our tips and resources for those visiting with a student-aged group. This page is divided into the following segments:

Things to Do

  • Learn the story behind our national anthem, consider the roles of the President, discover 200 years of family history in a New England house, and more in our exhibitions.
  • Choose your favorite way to see the museum with a self-guided tour (in other words, scavenger hunts!).
  • Follow along on audio tours using your personal device. Select general or family tours, as well as focused tours of selected exhibitions.
  • Make the most of your visit with lesson plans related to the museum's exhibitions.

We are not currently accepting reservation requests for guided tours and other programs. See more tips for visiting the museum.

Prepare for Your Visit

Consider accessibility concerns

The Museum's entrances, exhibitions, and restrooms are fully accessible. See our accessibility page for specific amenities and to request an interpreter. The museum has developed tip sheets and guides for students with cognitive or sensory disabilities who plan to visit the exhibitions America on the Move and the Star-Spangled Banner.

Plan for lunch

The museum's main cafe is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Brown bag lunches may be eaten outside on our terrace or on the National Mall. We do not offer storage or eating facilities for brown bag lunches inside the museum, and all food and drink must be in sealed containers if being brought into the museum.

Chaperone Policy

All children (under the age of 18) must be accompanied by an adult chaperone. When accompanying children, one (1) adult can chaperone up to a maximum of five (5) children. 

Plan your route

The museum has over 150,000 square feet of public space, and it is easy to get disoriented or lost. We recommend printing museum maps for students and chaperones. Printable maps can be located here

Self-Guides

We are currently not offering Highlight tours or in-person programing.

Thinking about a scavenger hunt? There are lots of ways to think about taking a general visit to the National Museum of American History. These links will give you a few ideas:

  • Audio tours are available through your own personal device with tours ranging from general highlights of the museum to specialized family tours.
  • Tips for teens by teens: Share this list of 10 suggestions for surviving, and enjoying, a museum visit. Written by the museum's Youth Advisory Council.
  • Think thematically: What objects symbolize America? What represents justice? This post suggests big questions that students can discuss as part of a visit to the museum.
  • Museums are mobile-friendly: A teacher shares his plans for organizing a technology-rich trip for high school students.
  • Take a look in a book: This post suggests using picture books with young children to prepare them for visits and to help them understand what they see.

Children can also explore the museum and answer questions about what they see by using these self-guides. Be sure to download these materials before your visit. PLEASE NOTE: Items may have been moved or taken off display. Check our updated list of available exhibitions and closed exhibitions.

For All Grades

Highlights
See a few of the most popular objects in the museum with this guide, designed for all ages.

Ask Yourself Exhibition Guides
These activities are designed to bring structure to a class trip while giving students the freedom to follow their own curiosity. By answering the sets of questions, students consider an exhibition as a whole and then focus on what they find most interesting.

For Preschool

Wonderplace Discover Guide
Wegmans Wonderplace is currently closed. See our COVID-19 statement for more information.

For Elementary Grades

Museum Highlights
Grades 4-6 (.pdf) 

America on the Move Exhibition
How has transportation influenced the way we get what we eat, helped people immigrate and migrate, or affected American businesses? Find out using these self-guides.
Foods on the Move for grades 4-6 

On the Water exhibition for grades 5 - 8
Explore America as a maritime nation with this self-guide.
On the Water guide

For Middle Grades

America on the Move Exhibition
How has transportation influenced the way we get what we eat, helped people immigrate and migrate, or affected American businesses? Find out using these self-guides.
People on the Move for grades 7-9
Businesses on the Move for grades 7-9

On the Water exhibition for grades 5 - 8
Explore America as a maritime nation with this self-guide.
On the Water guide

For High School

Leadership for grades 9-12
How can we use the objects and stories in history to inspire action in our communities? Use this guide to consider examples of leadership and active participation in public life.

America on the Move Exhibition
How has transportation influenced the way we get what we eat, helped people immigrate and migrate, or affected American businesses? Find out using these self-guides.
People on the Move for grades 7-9
Businesses on the Move for grades 7-9

Other Tips for Visiting

Entering the Museum

  • To speed entry into the building, carry as little as possible (backpacks, bags, etc.). Security checks are required of museum visitors, and all bags are inspected. There may be a short wait to enter the building.
  • If you have requested accessibility accommodations for your visit, tell the staff member greeting guests outside or volunteers at the information desk; they will make sure your accommodations are ready.

Some Simple Rules

To ensure the enjoyment and safety of all museum visitors, share these rules with your students and chaperones:

  • Maintain a safe social distance of 6 feet (2 meters) from those not in your immediate group. To facilitate social distancing we encourage groups larger than 12 to break into smaller groups while touring the museum.
  • Practice good hygiene by washing hands and using hand sanitizer.
  • Food, drinks, and gum are not allowed anywhere in the museum and must be kept in sealed containers. Water bottles, nursing, and bottle feeding are fine.
  • Walking and talking are appropriate, while running and shouting are not.
  • If visitors use MP3 players, cell phones, or other electronics, be sure that their use does not disturb other visitors.
To avoid crowds...
The best time to plan a quieter visit is during the winter months (January and February). If you plan a visit for the spring months (March through June), which are very crowded, your group may require extra supervision and you might require additional time for your visit.

Beyond Your Visit

Smithsonian's History Explorer is your gateway to innovative, standards-based online resources for teaching and learning American history. Explore the rich resources of the museum and bring history to life with artifacts, primary sources, and online tools for the classroom, afterschool programs, and home.

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Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive information on new resources, events, and more. Follow @amhistorymuseum on Twitter for educator-focused content. You can also read our blog; it takes readers behind the scenes at the museum with insights and information about our research, collections, exhibitions, programs, and more!