FAQs for Parents: Visiting the Museum with Kids

Find answers below to questions parents frequently ask about visiting the Museum with children. For general information about the Museum such as hours, locations, rest rooms, security procedures, and food service, also see the general FAQs about Visiting.

Do you offer any guided programs suitable for families?

Visitors of all ages are welcome to participate in our free, walk-in activities. Please check the calendar of events for tours, demonstrations, hands-on carts, and special festivals and events. You can search for events that are kid-friendly by checking the box "Search only items for kids." You can also visit the Information Desk at the Museum when you arrive to learn more about available programs on the day of your visit.

What should we do if we only have an hour to spend?

We offer several self-guided tours of the Museum. Each takes you on a tour of highlights from the Museum's collections and is about an hour to complete. A Family guide for America On the Move feature games, questions, and directed-looking activities to engage young visitors. You may download the guides now, or request a copy from the Welcomce Center or Information Desk when you arrive.

Do you have any hands-on activities available at the Museum?

Look for interactive carts throughout the Museum to try your hand at a variety of historical activities and learn more about our collections. Peek through a stereoscope, use a press to print a card, and try a working cotton gin! Carts are available most days—check in at the Welcome Center when you arrive for that day’s schedule.

Look for interactive activities as part of several exhibitions, including America on the Move, The American Presidency, The Price of Freedom: Americans at War, and Within These Walls.

How long will it take to visit the Museum?

Many visitors find that about two hours is the right amount of time.  Take into account your family's interests and needs when arranging your day, and plan to take lots of breaks, especially if you have very young children.

I would like to arrange a visit for a group of school-age children. How can I do this?

Groups visiting are invited to participate in our free, walk-in activities, or to use self-guides to tour the Museum or a special exhibition.

Where can I get more information about visiting the Smithsonian with kids?

First, check our "Kids: Things to do in the Museum" page.  

Visit the Smithsonian Institution's main Web site or call (202) 633-1000 for more information about exhibitions, programs, and services available at other museums. Or download the free guide,  Go Smithsonian(.pdf). For general tips about visiting museums with your children, see the Smithsonian's Visitor Information for Kids and Families

What Smithsonian activities are happening in my state?

See a list of traveling exhibitions to find out what’s on view near you or find a Smithsonian Affiliate in your state.

I still have questions about planning my visit. Is it possible to speak with a staff person at the Museum?

Please send your questions to us at nmahprograms@si.edu.  A member of our staff will respond to your inquiry as promptly as possible, usually within five business days.

How can I prepare my child for a visit to the Museum or keep the excitement from our trip alive once we get home?

You can plan your trip and build or maintain excitement about history through the resources on our Web site. To learn more about what to expect at the Museum, the hours, and location, use the Plan Your Visit page. To explore historical topics before visiting the Museum, check out activities and book recommendations on the OurStory Web site.