FAQ—Visiting the Museum
Admission is always free at the National Museum of American History.
For the safety of our visitors and staff, groups larger than 12 are strongly discouraged. All children (under the age of 18) must be accompanied by an adult chaperone. When accompanying children, one adult can chaperone up to a maximum of five children. See our COVID-19 statement for more information.
As the Smithsonian reopens, safety comes first. We’ve put safety measures in place to protect the health of our visitors, staff, volunteers, and collections based on guidance from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and local governments:
- We're requiring that all visitors ages two and older wear face coverings regardless of vaccination status.
- We’re providing hand-sanitizing stations for visitors throughout our facilities and conducting more frequent and enhanced cleaning.
- We’re recommending that visitors maintain a safe social distance between households or groups.
- We’ve installed protective safety shields at bag-check screening stations and registers.
- We’re evaluating our exhibits, interactives, and indoor spaces on a case-by-case basis. Some of these features may be closed or operate at limited capacity.
- Our staff will stay home when sick, wear face coverings, practice social distancing, and wash hands and practice good hygiene.
A limited number of wheelchairs are available free of charge for use while visiting the museum. Visitors may ask for assistance from security officers at the entrance. Learn more on our Accessibility page.
We allow backpacks in our museum. Public lockers are not available at this time. Visitors are permitted to bring food and beverages in sealed containers inside a backpack or other bag. Food and beverages may not be consumed in the museum.
While you are welcome to nurse or bottle feed your child or pump anywhere you feel comfortable within the museum, we offer a private lactation room, located on the second floor in the Welcome Center. This room is meant for single use only and includes a cushioned chair with arms, two small tables, a locking door, and an electrical outlet. This room does not have running water or diaper-changing facilities, but both can be found in restrooms near the Welcome Center in the museum's east and west wings.
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 to consider which ones you'd like to see. You may also wish to sign up for our free email newsletter for the latest information.
Our public lockers are currently closed.
If you have lost an item in the museum, fill out a Lost and Found form. An Office of Protection Services representative will contact you about your item.
Free Wi-Fi access is available in most areas of the building. Look for the si-visitor network.
To inquire whether a particular object is available for viewing, contact the museum’s Office of Curatorial Affairs.
All children (under the age of 18) must be accompanied by an adult chaperone. When accompanying children, one adult can chaperone up to a maximum of five (5) children. For the safety of our visitors and staff, groups larger than 12 are strongly discouraged. Check out our FAQ for Visiting the Museum with Kids for tips on hands-on activities, guided tours, and more. Our Plan Your Field Trip page also includes information on visiting with students.
Video cameras and flash photography are permitted in the museum, with the exception of a few exhibitions (such as the Star-Spangled Banner) that are clearly marked. Use of tripods, monopods, and selfie sticks are not permitted. News photographers and videographers must arrange visits with the Office of Communications and Marketing by calling 202-633-3129.
The National Museum of American History has more than 1.7 million objects in its collection, and only a small fraction—perhaps less than 1%—is on view at any one time.