Our museum is temporarily closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Read a message from our director, and check our website and social media for updates.

Security & Policies

We have security measures in place to ensure your safety and the protection of the objects in the Museum. You’ll be greeted upon entry by one of our security personnel who will conduct a thorough but speedy hand-check of all bags, briefcases, purses, strollers, and containers. All visitors are required to walk through a metal detector. Those who are unable to go through the metal detector will be hand-screened with an electronic wand by security personnel.

Help speed your entry into the Museum by having all purses or bags open and ready for inspection, and empty your pockets before going through the screening station. If you do not have any bags with you, ask the officer on duty if there is a designated line for visitors without bags.

Please note there may be a line to enter the Museum on busy days. There are two entrances at the Museum - Constitution Avenue (north side) and the National Mall (south side). Depending on visitation, you may find that one entrance has a shorter line, so be sure to check both entrances.

The following items are NOT PERMITTED in the Museum:

  • tripods
  • monopods
  • selfie sticks
  • guns
  • knives
  • pen knives
  • pets
  • open containers of food and drinks
  • scissors
  • aerosol cans, including pepper spray and Mace
  • tools
  • smoking, including electronic cigarettes
  • placards, signs, or banners

The following items are PERMITTED in the Museum:

  • service animals
  • mobility aids (canes, walkers, etc.)
  • strollers
  • cameras
  • bottled water
  • food and beverages in sealed containers 

See the Smithsonian's Tips for Visiting for the most up-to-date information.


Photography: The Smithsonian permits still and video photography for noncommercial use only in its museums and exhibitions, unless otherwise posted. Photography is prohibited in the Star-Spangled Banner Gallery. For the safety of our visitors and collections, the use of tripods, monopods, and selfie sticks is not permitted at any time. Working members of the media who need to use a tripod or monopod must obtain permission from the museum’s Office of Communications and Marketing and must be escorted by a Museum staff member while in the building.

Notice: Visitors may be filmed, photographed, or recorded by the Smithsonian for educational and promotional uses, including for posting on the Smithsonian’s and other public websites.

Smoking: Prohibited in all Smithsonian facilities.

Pets: Not permitted in the Museum (except service animals).

Strollers: Permitted in the Museum.

Wheelchairs: Available on a first-come, first-served basis. See also, information for visitors with disabilities.

Food and Drink: Visitors are permitted to bring in food and beverages in resealable containers inside a backpack or other bag or store items in one of our public lockers. Food and beverages may not be consumed anywhere in the Museum except for the two designated cafeterias. 

Bag lunches: No accommodations are available for eating bag lunches within the Museum.

Lockers: The Museum has a limited number of lockers available. There is no other facility for checking bags. Learn more.