FAQ—Visiting the Museum
Admission is always free at the National Museum of American History, though we now require visitors to reserve a free timed-entry pass. Passes are required for all visitors regardless of age, and every member of your party must have a timed pass. Passes may not be sold or transferred, are valid only for the issued date, and time and will be void if altered.
For the safety of our visitors and staff, groups larger than six are strictly prohibited. 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.
To create a safe environment for visitors and staff at the museum, while visiting with us we ask all visitors to comply with the following:
- Wear a face covering. Visitors ages two and older are required to wear a face covering during their visit. Face coverings may be removed while eating or drinking in designated spaces. Face coverings should fit properly, covering the nose, mouth, and chin with no large gaps on the outside of the face, and they should have at least two layers. Face shields are not permitted as a substitute for a face covering but may be worn over a face covering or mask. Face coverings or masks with an exhalation valve are not permitted.
- For the safety of our visitors and staff, groups larger than six (6) are strictly prohibited. Practice social distancing, staying at least six feet from visitors who are not a member of your group.
- Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer. Free hand sanitizer is available throughout the museum.
A limited number of wheelchairs are available free of charge for use while visiting the museum. To help maintain the sanitation of the wheelchairs, notify us before your visit when you reserve your free timed-entry pass. 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.
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. Visitors will be able to secure up to six (6) passes maximum, for personal use only. For the safety of our visitors and staff, groups larger than six (6) are strictly prohibited. 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.