Some Simple Rules
To ensure the enjoyment and safety of all museum visitors, these rules should be shared with each member of the group:
- 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.
- Wearing a properly fitting mask is a good idea, but not required.
- Practice good hygiene by washing hands and using hand sanitizer.
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 ten (10) children.
The official bus drop-off site is Constitution Avenue on the North side of our building. The Smithsonian has no parking for buses. The District of Columbia Department of Transportation (202-727-1000) may have bus parking suggestions.
Entering the Museum
- All groups must enter the museum through the general entry line. We are not currently accepting reservations for expedited entry.
- 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. For more information on permissible items can be found at our Visitor Tips page.
- If you request accessibility accommodations for your visit, tell the staff member greeting guests outside or at the information desk; they will make sure your accommodations are ready.
The museum's Atrium Café is available for groups to purchase food during their visit. The most up-to-date information on the operating status, hours, and offerings can be found on the Dining & Shopping page.
Café seating is reserved for visitors who purchase food and brown bag lunches may not be eaten within the museum.
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.
Programming or Experiences
We are not currently accepting reservation requests for private, in-person experiences for groups visiting the museum — this includes guided tours and the Butterfly Pavilion.
For student groups, in fall 2022 we are offering both in-person and online programs led by museum educators that are aligned with standards for Grades K-12. To view these options and sign up, browse our School Programs page.
Plan Your Route
The museum has a large footprint and it is easy to get disoriented or lost. We recommend printing museum maps for your group. Get printable museum maps here.
Request Accessibility Accommodations
The museum's entrances, exhibitions, and restrooms are fully accessible. See our accessibility page for specific amenities.
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.