Frequently Asked Questions

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is now open to the public. To help you prepare for your visit, we have provided answers below to the most frequently asked questions about our museum.

What are the museum's hours?

The museum is closed to the public on Monday and Tuesday each week during the initial reopening phase. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except December 25. Visitors are able to enter the museum until 4:00 p.m.

How do I get there? 

Please visit Smithsonian visitor maps for directions to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington Monument and National Mall. The easiest way to visit the museum is to travel by public transportation. The closest Metro stations are Federal Triangle and Smithsonian (Mall exit), and you can view walking directions to the museum via Google Maps or Citymapper. For more information about traveling by Metro, please visit Metro Trip Planner.

Visitors enter the museum at 15th Street and Madison Drive, NW. This entrance is accessible and serves as a bus drop off location. Timed-entry passes will be scanned at the visitor entrance on Madison Drive, NW. Visitors should use the main exit located on Constitution Avenue, NW when leaving the museum

Is parking available for cars and buses?

There are no Smithsonian Institution public parking facilities on the National Mall. The Smithsonian does not provide parking. There are National Park Service designated accessible parking spaces along Madison Drive NW adjacent to the museum. Visitors with disability hang tags or license plates can park at metered spaces controlled by the DC government. Visit the DC government website for more information about their parking procedures and for an interactive map of Red Top Meter parking locations. 

The nearest public parking garage is located at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. You may access the parking garage via ramps at 14th Street NW (north and south). Please visit the International Trade Center website for more information. A few nearby commercial lots and garages may also have available parking. 

For additional information on bus parking, contact the National Park Service Mall Operations Office at 202-426-6841. For all other questions about visiting the museum, please call 1-800-514-3849.

How can I find out about street closures and traffic that may affect my travel to the museum? 

Please check DC Traffic Advisory for the most up-to-date information regarding any street closures or changes to traffic patterns affecting the area around the museum. 

Are you offering group visits?

An individual can reserve up to six passes for their visit. For groups with six to twelve individuals who plan to visit together, two separate reservations, using two separate email addresses are required. Groups larger than twelve are prohibited. Tour Operators must contact NMAAHCGroupRequests@si.edu before reserving passes.

Is the museum partnering with any third-party organizations to provide packaged tours including free timed-entry passes, transportation, and hotel? 

The museum does not partner with tour organizations or companies.

Is the museum accessible and ADA compliant? 

The museum is committed to providing inclusive experiences for all audiences and is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Accommodations include accessible facilities and entrances. There is a limited amount of free manual wheelchairs on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitors are encouraged to request a wheelchair when reserving their timed-entry pass.

Open captioning is included in all exhibition videos. American Sign Language interpretation and Access Services are available for scheduled programming by contacting us with two weeks advance notice. T-Loops are available at the Welcome Desk. 

Accessibility Options

How do I contact the museum with questions? 

For more information about visiting the museum, please call 1-844-750-3012 or email NMAAHCVisitorServices@si.edu

How can I reserve free timed-entry passes?

Visitors can reserve timed-entry passes online or by phone at 1-800-514-3849. All visitors, regardless of age, must have a timed-entry pass to enter the museum. The museum cannot accommodate walk-up visitors during the initial reopening phases. 

We are honored to welcome veterans, active-duty personnel, and first responders to the museum. After showing their military or work ID badge, they may enter with one guest without reserving a free timed-entry pass. Entry begins by joining the general line and checking in at the triage tent located near the building entrance on 15th Street and Madison Drive. Please note: museum entry is subject to building capacity; weekends and holidays are peak visitation times. If the museum is at or near capacity, all visitors standing in line will be asked to wait until the museum has room to accommodate them. 

How far in advance are free timed-entry passes released? 

Timed-entry passes are released up to 30 days in advance on a rolling basis. A limited number of same-day timed-entry passes are released online only throughout each day, beginning at 8:15 a.m. EST.  Passes are no longer released three months in advance.

How do I know when free timed-entry passes are not available?

When passes are unavailable, the date is highlighted in gray and the drop-down menu for a visitation time will not appear. 

Why am I unable to advance the calendar to future months?

Visitors will not be able to advance the calendar past the current month, when timed-entry passes for future months are not available.  

How many free timed-entry passes can I reserve?

An individual can reserve up to six passes for their visit. For groups with six to twelve individuals who plan to visit together, two separate reservations, using two separate email addresses are required. Groups larger than twelve are prohibited. Tour Operators must contact NMAAHCGroupRequests@si.edu before reserving passes.

Do children require free timed-entry passes? 

Yes, all visitors, regardless of age, must have a timed-entry pass to enter the museum. 

I'm a veteran, active-duty personnel or first responder. Do I still need a free timed-entry pass to enter the museum? 

We are honored to welcome veterans, active-duty personnel, and first responders to the museum. After showing their military or work ID badge, they may enter with one guest without reserving a free timed-entry pass. Entry begins by joining the general line and checking in at the triage tent located near the building entrance on 15th Street and Madison Drive. Please note: museum entry is subject to building capacity; weekends and holidays are peak visitation times. If the museum is at or near capacity, all visitors standing in line will be asked to wait until the museum has room to accommodate them. 

Additional Information

How will I receive my free timed-entry pass?

Visitors receive their free timed-entry passes via an Etix email. Visitors should remember to check their spam or junk folder. 

How should I present my free timed-entry passes when I arrive? 

Visitors can choose to print timed-entry passes at home or present them on a mobile device for scanning prior to entering the museum on Madison Drive, NW.

Can I enter the museum if I arrive past the entry time on my free timed-entry pass? 

Visitors may enter the museum after their scheduled time, up until 4:00 pm, based upon capacity. 

Are free timed-entry passes used to limit the amount of time I can spend in the museum?

No, visit time is not limited. Visitors are able to stay in the museum until closing.  

Who can I contact if I have trouble obtaining my free timed-entry passes? 

Please visit Etix customer service, call 1-800-514-3849, or email support@etix.com.  

What is NMAAHC doing to ensure the safety of visitors? 

To ensure a safe environment for our visitors, volunteers and staff, we are taking the following steps:

The museum's policy is to:

  • ask that all visitors who are not feeling well, or have any symptoms related to COVID-19, stay home. 
  • require all visitors ages two and older to wear face coverings during their visit, including those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19. 
  • encourage visitors to maintain social distance, wash hands frequently, and use hand sanitizer stations installed throughout the building. Personnel actively remind visitors of the safety requirements to enforce social distancing and face covering requirements. Visitors who do not adhere to safety policies and guidelines may be asked to leave. 
  • conduct enhanced cleaning measures frequently, including increased sanitation and disinfection of all high-touch surfaces. Hand sanitizing stations are positioned throughout the museum. 

We ask that all visitors, including those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, follow these safety measures to protect everyone’s health. 

Do you require visitors to wear face coverings?

Visitors ages two and older are required to wear a face covering in all indoor spaces. Fully vaccinated visitors are not required to wear a face covering outdoors. 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 (i.e., no bandanas), and they should have a minimum of two layers (i.e., not a single-ply gaiter). 

What kinds of face coverings are permitted?

Acceptable face coverings include cloth face coverings and disposable face coverings. 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. 

How do you enforce face covering wearing inside the museum?

Visitors who do not adhere to safety policies and guidelines may be asked to leave. 

Can I remove my face covering to take a picture?

No, visitors ages two and older who are not fully vaccinated from COVID-19 are required to wear face coverings at all times.

Are there special hours or access points for high-risk visitors?

Not at this time. 

Do you conduct temperature checks at the entrance of the museum? 

No, temperature checks are not conducted at this time. All visitors are asked to conduct self-evaluations of their health before coming to the museum as there are a variety of symptoms beyond the temperature that should be monitored. All visitors, including those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, are asked to stay home if they do not feel well. 

Do you offer no-touch/contactless options for payment? 

Visitors have options for both cash and credit card payments, in addition to Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay touchless payment options within the museum. All timed-entry passes are free.

What is your procedure if a Smithsonian staff member tests positive?

The Smithsonian has an established reporting protocol for staff who receive a positive test result and a comprehensive contact tracing program to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. We investigate all reported cases, and the results of this contact tracing process trigger additional next steps, including procedures to directly inform affected parties and undertake additional cleaning measures.

We rely on our visitors and staff to adhere to our safety precautions, including staying home when sick, maintaining a safe social distance of at least six feet, wearing face coverings at all times, and washing and sanitizing hands.

What is your procedure if a visitor tests positive?

Any member of the public who has visited a Smithsonian museum and receives a positive test should contact their local public health department, in accordance with the process established by their local jurisdiction. The Smithsonian coordinates with local public health officials to receive pertinent information about positive cases, directly informs affected parties, and undertakes additional cleaning measures.

We rely on our visitors and staff to adhere to our safety precautions, including staying home when sick, maintaining a safe social distance of at least six feet, wearing face coverings at all times, and washing and sanitizing hands.

How long does it take to visit the museum? 

Please be prepared for wait times as you enter the museum. There are 85,000 square feet of exhibition space; the pace at which you choose to tour the museum will determine the length of your visit.

What are the museum's hours? 

The museum is open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Visitors are able to enter the museum until 4:00 p.m. The museum store begins to close at 5:00 p.m. and the exhibitions begin to close starting at 5:15 p.m.

Is everything open at NMAAHC?

Some exhibitions, interactives, and amenities are closed or operate limited capacity. 

Most seated theaters, including the Oprah Winfrey Theater and Corona Pavilion, remain closed to visitors. The segregated Southern Railway Car and the Jones-Hall-Sims House is also closed. 

Some exhibitions and interactives, including the Reflection Booths, Genealogy Database, Arc Interactive, São José Interactive, Green Book, Power of Place, and In the Studio, remain closed to visitors.

The We Return Fighting: The African American Experience in WW1 exhibition closed on September 6, 2020. The Visual Art and the American Experience exhibition closed on July 12, 2021. 

Some galleries that remain open are designed with narrow entrances and pathways, as well as low ceiling heights, in order to create an intimate and close experience for visitors. The museum requires visitors to follow one-directional flow in these areas and posts signage accordingly to allow for social distancing.

Are the museum store and café open?

The museum store is open, but the Sweet Home Café remains closed until further notice.

Is there a security check-in for the museum?

For everyone’s safety, all visitors are required to go through screening during the security process. All visitors are required to walk through a metal detector. Those unable to go through the metal detector will be hand-screened with an electronic wand by security personnel. 

We’ve installed protective safety shields at bag-check screening stations and registers. We are encouraging visitors to limit the number of personal belongings they bring. This will decrease the time needed to get through security checkpoints and help maintain a safe social distance. 

What items are not permitted in the museum? 

  • Outside food or drinks that are not properly closed and secured in a backpack
  • Animals (with the exception of Service Animals as defined by the Department of Justice
  • 3D weapons, guns, or knives (including pen knives), aerosol cans, including pepper spray and Mace, scissors or tools 
  • Banners, placards, or signs 
  • Monopods, tripods, or selfie sticks 

Does the museum offer a coat or bag check?

We do not offer coat, bag, or locker storage at this time. We encourage visitors to limit the number of personal belongings they bring.

Does the museum offer guided tours, in-person programming, or events? 

As a precautionary measure, all on-site docent-led public tours and events are suspended until further notice.

Can I take photos and videos in the museum? 

Working members of the media who need to use a tripod or monopod must obtain permission from the museum’s Office of Public Affairs and must be escorted by a museum staff member while in the building. 

The Smithsonian permits still and video photography for noncommercial use only in its museums and exhibitions, unless otherwise posted. Photography of fine art is prohibited.

For the safety of our visitors and collections, the use of tripods, monopods, and selfie sticks is not permitted at any time. To assist with capturing your memories, the museum provides a mobile application with a variety of images from our exhibitions and collections. 

Please note: 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. 

Is the museum accessible and ADA compliant?

The museum is committed to providing inclusive experiences for all audiences and is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Accommodations include accessible facilities and entrances. There are free manual wheelchair loans on a first-come, first-served basis. Open captioning is included in all exhibition videos.

American Sign Language interpretation and Access Services are available by contacting us with two weeks advance notice. Movies shown during regular museum hours of operation offer assistive listening devices and audio-description. T-Loops are available at the Welcome Desk.

For more information, please visit the Accessibility Options page. 

Can I bring my stroller, scooter, walker, wheelchair or any type of mobility device?

The museum is accessible to visitors using strollers, scooters, walkers, wheelchairs and mobility devices. There are elevators available to visitors on every floor of the museum.

Are wheelchairs available?

A very limited number of manual wheelchairs are available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis for use while visiting the museum. You are encouraged to bring a wheelchair with you due to limited availability. The Handicap Accessible Entrance is located on Constitution Avenue side of the museum, visitors may ask for assistance from security personnel at the entrance.

Are there family friendly restrooms?

Restrooms designated for family use are on the upper levels of the museum at each level above the museum’s Central Hall.

What is available for those who are not English language speakers?

Printed brochures and the museum’s mobile app are available in English, French and Spanish.

NMAAHC Maps are available in Chinese, French, and Spanish.

Smithsonian Informational Brochures are available at the Welcome Desk in the following languages: Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

Museum’s mobile app are available in the following languages: English, French, and Spanish

How do I get media credentials?

All interview, filming, passes, and tour requests can be made online using our media requests form. You can also download NMAAHC's presskit (zip) and image files for media use.

What Photography or Film Making is authorized for the public at Smithsonian Museums?

The Smithsonian permits still and video photography for noncommercial use only in its museums and exhibitions. Please make media request to start the process of obtaining permission for photography or film making.

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 Public Affairs 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.

How Do I Share my NMAAHC Images and Experiences on Social Media?

NMAAHC embraces social media as a way to stay connected with current audiences, reach out to new ones, and foster dialogue. There are numerous opportunities to share your presence at NMAAHC events through social media. Please check out our Social Media Toolkit for ideas on sharing your experience and follow us on these social media platforms: TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Snapchat.

How can I participate as a vendor in the Museum Store?

Please see our Museum Store Vendor page for instructions on how to participate.

How do I support the museum?

Be a part of this seminal American moment. Individuals, foundations, corporations, and other organizations, please join us in this historic endeavor. Become a member or donor!

How may I volunteer?

Volunteers play an essential role in inspiring and engaging audiences.  If you are interested in volunteering with us, please visit our Volunteer Program page.