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.

Museum entry is available through the Constitution Avenue entrance on the first floor and the Madison Drive entrance on the second floor. There may be a short wait to enter the building. See museum map.

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 on a first-come, first-served basis. Learn more.

Lost and Found: 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.