We welcome students and young visitors to the museum! Please let us know you are coming by sending an email to NMAHGroupInfo@si.edu with the name and size of your group, planned visit date, and estimated arrival time. Please note that this is not a tour reservation, and you are welcome to visit at any time during public visiting hours without registering.
See below for our tips and resources for those visiting with a student-aged group. This page is divided into the following segments:
- Things to Do
- Prepare for Your Visit
- Other Tips for Visiting
- Beyond Your Visit
- Get the Latest
Things to Do
- Learn the story behind our national anthem, consider the roles of the President, discover 200 years of family history in a New England house, and more in our exhibitions.
- Make the most of your visit with lesson plans related to the museum's exhibitions.
We are not currently accepting reservation requests for guided tours and other programs. See more tips for visiting the museum.
Prepare for Your Visit
Consider accessibility concerns
The Museum's entrances, exhibitions, and restrooms are fully accessible. See our accessibility page for specific amenities and to request an interpreter. The museum has developed tip sheets and guides for students with cognitive or sensory disabilities who plan to visit the exhibitions America on the Move and the Star-Spangled Banner.
Plan for lunch
The museum's main cafe is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Brown bag lunches may be eaten outside on our terrace or on the National Mall. We do not offer storage or eating facilities for brown bag lunches inside the museum, and all food and drink must be in sealed containers if being brought into the museum.
All children (under the age of 18) must be accompanied by an adult chaperone. When accompanying children, one (1) adult can chaperone up to a maximum of five (5) children.
Plan your route
The museum has over 150,000 square feet of public space, and it is easy to get disoriented or lost. We recommend printing museum maps for students and chaperones. Printable maps can be located here.
Enjoying the Museum
We are not currently offering guided Highlights tours.
There are lots of ways to think about taking a general visit to the National Museum of American History. These links will give you a few ideas:
- Tips for teens by teens: Share this list of 10 suggestions for surviving, and enjoying, a museum visit. Written by the museum's Youth Advisory Council.
- Think thematically: What objects symbolize America? What represents justice? This post suggests big questions that students can discuss as part of a visit to the museum.
- Museums are mobile-friendly: A teacher shares his plans for organizing a technology-rich trip for high school students.
- Take a look in a book: This post suggests using picture books with young children to prepare them for visits and to help them understand what they see.
For Preschool-age children:
- Wonderplace Discover Guide (PDF): Download this guide before your visit. (Wegmans Wonderplace is open Wednesday - Sunday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Hours subject to change.)
Other Tips for Visiting
Entering the Museum
- To speed entry into the building, carry as little as possible (backpacks, bags, etc.). Security checks are required of museum visitors, and all bags are inspected. There may be a short wait to enter the building.
- If you have requested accessibility accommodations for your visit, tell the staff member greeting guests outside or volunteers at the information desk; they will make sure your accommodations are ready.
Some Simple Rules
To ensure the enjoyment and safety of all museum visitors, share these rules with your students and chaperones:
- Maintain a safe social distance of 6 feet (2 meters) from those not in your immediate group. To facilitate social distancing we encourage groups larger than 12 to break into smaller groups while touring the museum.
- Practice good hygiene by washing hands and using hand sanitizer.
- Food, drinks, and gum are not allowed anywhere in the museum and must be kept in sealed containers. Water bottles, nursing, and bottle feeding are fine.
- Walking and talking are appropriate, while running and shouting are not.
- If visitors use MP3 players, cell phones, or other electronics, be sure that their use does not disturb other visitors.
To avoid crowds...
The best time to plan a quieter visit is during the winter months (January and February). If you plan a visit for the spring months (March through June), which are very crowded, your group may require extra supervision and you might require additional time for your visit.
Beyond Your Visit
Smithsonian's History Explorer is your gateway to innovative, standards-based online resources for teaching and learning American history. Explore the rich resources of the museum and bring history to life with artifacts, primary sources, and online tools for the classroom, afterschool programs, and home.
Get the Latest!
Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive information on new resources, events, and more. You can also read our blog; it takes readers behind the scenes at the museum with insights and information about our research, collections, exhibitions, programs, and more!