Frequently Asked Questions

To help you prepare for your visit, we have provided answers below to the most frequently asked questions about our Museum.

Where is the Museum located?

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is located at 1400 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., between Madison Drive and Constitution Avenue and between 14th and 15th Streets.

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.

What are the Museum's operating hours?

The Museum is open 7-days a week, 364 days a year. Our regular operating hours are from 10:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. The Museum is closed on December 25.

Special Hours: 
The Museum will be open from 10:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 23 and Wednesday, December 26 through Saturday, December 29. 

How do I contact the Museum with questions?

For more information about visiting the Museum, please call 1-844-750-3012.

What are admissions or entrance costs for the Museum?

Entry to all Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. is free.

Are passes necessary to enter the Museum?

Yes, Timed Entry Passes are necessary to enter the Museum. Please visit our Timed Entry Passes information page for more information on obtaining advance and same-day timed passes.

What time should I arrive to the Museum if I have a timed pass?

Only current-hour timed passes will be allowed to join the queue for entrance to the Museum. Please do not arrive prior to your pass time, it will not speed up your entry.

Is the Museum partnering with any third party organizations to provide packaged tours including passes, transportation, and hotel?

No. There are currently no authorized agents, organizations or companies permitted to sell tour packages on the museum’s behalf. All of the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. are free to the public, including the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. Beware of offers, websites, and other unauthorized information.

Is there public transportation available?

Please consult the following resources for information on public transportation in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area:
Washington, D.C. Official Visitors Guide
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Trip Planner (WMATA)
Smithsonian Visitor Maps

Is parking available for cars and buses?

There are no Smithsonian Institution public parking facilities on the National Mall. A few nearby commercial lots and garages may have available parking. Maps of the area around the Museum are available. If you must drive, please see parking options. 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 1-844-750-3012.

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.

How do I prepare for weather conditions?

Please give consideration to the possibility of inclement weather when planning your visit to the Museum. Check local forecasts before traveling and be prepared as lines to enter the Museum form outside. In the event of inclement weather, please dress accordingly.

Are food and drink allowed in the Museum?

No food and drink is allowed in the Museum. Bottled water is permitted. You may consume food and drinks in the Sweet Home Café, but not in other areas of the Museum. Groups who bring food are encouraged to picnic on the National Mall. Bag lunch facilities are not available in the Museum.

Why is the museum using timed passes for entry?

Due to the unprecedented interest, a timed pass system is available to serve as many visitors as possible.

What is a timed pass?

The Museum offers free timed passes to ensure the safety, security and quality of the visitor experience. Passes are timed at fifteen-minute intervals, and each timed pass has a unique entry code that can only be used once. 

Please reserve only the actual number of passes that you need. To improve your chances of receiving a pass, be prepared with multiple dates that will work for your schedule, and aim for a weekday visit.

The timed pass is for a self-guided visit to the museum. It is difficult to experience the entire museum in one visit.  If you can, please plan to return. You may experience large crowds and extended wait times on weekends and holidays.

How long does it take to obtain a timed pass?

Due to the large volume of requests for Museum passes, expect extended wait times online (up to 30 minutes) and by phone (more than 1 hour and 45 minutes).

When will advance timed passes be released?

Timed passes are released on the first Wednesday of each month. Visit our timed entry passes information page for upcoming release dates and more information on obtaining advance timed passes.

Can I obtain a free same-day timed pass?

Same-day timed passes are available online, beginning at 6:30 a.m. daily. Beginning in January 2019, Walk-up entry is available all year, every Monday through Friday. Walk-up entry is available Monday – Friday afternoons (after 1 p.m.) all year. If you are visiting during our off-peak season (September – February) walk-up entry is available all day Monday – Friday. Walk-up entry is not available on Saturdays or Sundays due to high visitation.

Do children require timed passes?

Each visitor requires a pass. Adults need to obtain free timed passes for all small children and infants. Timed passes help us account for the time necessary to enter the museum and go through the security process.

How many times can a timed pass be used?

Each timed pass has a unique entry code and can only be used once.

My group was delayed in arriving at the Museum. Can we still enter the Museum as a group if it is after our scheduled entry time?

Yes, we understand that group transportation logistics do not always go as planned. While we ask that you do your best to arrive at the museum by the time on your pass, we allow pass holders to enter at any time after the time stated on their pass that day. The time on your pass helps our Office of Protection Services to maintain safe hourly visitor counts. If the museum is at capacity then pass holders, regardless of the time on their pass, will be asked to wait until the museum has room to accommodate new visitors.

My advance timed pass did not arrive in the mail.  What can I do?

You should receive a confirmation email when you reserve your passes.  Please be sure to check you junk email folder just in case the confirmation email is delivered there.

Contact the Etix Customer Support Center online. For all other questions about visiting the museum, please call 1-844-750-3012.

I lost my advance timed pass, what can I do?

If you have lost timed passes that you received in the mail and cannot find your passes within 48 hours of your visit, contact the Etix Customer Support Center at 1-866-297-4020. Hours of operation: Monday – Saturday: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. ET and Sunday 12 p.m. - 8 p.m. ET. For all other questions about visiting the museum, please call 1-844-750-3012.

If you misplaced the hard copy of your advance timed passes, you can reprint them using the instructions found in your initial email confirmation. Each timed pass has a unique entry code and can only be used once.

I'm a veteran, active duty personnel or first responder, do I still need a timed pass to enter the museum?

We are honored to welcome veterans, active duty personnel and first responders to the museum. After showing their military, work ID or badge, veterans, active duty personnel and first responders may enter the museum and bring one guest with them for their visit. Entry into the museum is always subject to building capacity. If the museum is at or nearing capacity, then all visitors, including veterans, active duty personnel and first responders, will be asked to wait until the museum has room to accommodate new visitors. Weekends and holidays are peak visitation times.

Are timed passes required to tour the Museum?

Yes. The Museum has implemented a timed pass system to serve as many visitors as possible while maintaining a secure, safe and smooth flow of people into the museum. Timed passes for the public and nonprofit organizations are free of charge.

Can I plan a tour or receive advice about what to see at the Museum?

Volunteer Visitor Services Representatives are available to provide advice and to help navigate the 12 galleries, the Museum Store, Sweet Home Café and all the opportunities and services that are part of the Museum experience.

Our Mobile App for Android and Apple offers a selection of stories from the Museum's exhibitions and highlights objects from our collection. The app also includes audio stories available in English, French and Spanish. Printed brochures are also available at the Museum’s Welcome Desk at the time of your visit.

How long will it take to tour the Museum?

Please be prepared for large crowds and extended wait times as you enter the museum. It is difficult to say how much time it will take to visit the museum, so much depends on the age and interests of those in your group. There are 85,000 square feet of exhibition space, nearly 3000 objects, 12 exhibitions, 13 different interactives with 17 stations, and 183 videos housed on five floors. The pace at which you choose to tour the Museum will determine the length of your stay.  If possible, plan a return visit to the Museum.

Is there a restaurant in the Museum?

The museum’s Sweet Home Café seats 400 people and features a rotating menu of seasonal offerings served at four stations and includes family-friendly options. The stations are organized to showcase traditional African American cuisine from the following US regions: the Northern States, the Agricultural South, the Creole Coast, and the West Range.

Visitors are not allowed to bring food into the museum and coolers are also not permitted in the museum or on the grounds.

Is there a museum store?

Yes, there is a Museum Store located on the Entry Level offering a wide selection of items reflecting the experience, architecture, and collections of the Museum. Offerings are selected to encourage visitors to continue their exploration of African American history and culture.

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.

What are expected wait times for entrance to Museum and events?

Please be prepared for crowds and wait times as you enter the Museum. Please be mindful that it will take time to enter the Museum through the security screening, orient yourself to the space and begin your Museum experience. 

Will there be a security check-in for the museum?

For everyone’s safety, all visitors are required to go through screening during the security process. You are greeted upon entry by one of our security personnel who conduct a thorough but speedy hand-check of all bags, briefcases, purses, strollers, and containers. 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. Please save everyone time by not bringing any of the prohibited items listed below.

What can I bring into the museum?

The following items are NOT PERMITTED in the Museum:

  • tripods
  • monopods
  • selfie sticks
  • guns
  • 3D weapons
  • knives
  • pen knives
  • pets
  • food and drinks
  • scissors
  • aerosol cans, including pepper spray and Mace
  • tools
  • smoking
  • placards, signs, or banners

Is there a coat or bag check at the museum?

There is no coat or bag check available within the museum building. We encourage visitors to leave large bags and packs behind, and to travel as lightly as possible for the best museum experience.

Are there family friendly restrooms?

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

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 Museum's listing of accessibility options for all visitors. 

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.

Can I take photos and videos in the museum?

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.

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 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.

I have an object I would like to donate, should I bring it with me?

No, please do not bring historic objects or artwork to the opening or to the museum at any other time. The Museum is working diligently toward the opening day and all of our resources must be devoted to the momentous occasion. We receive on a weekly basis numerous offers of historical and art collections for the Museum to consider and unfortunately we cannot give these offers the attention they deserve. Therefore the Museum is requesting that potential donors hold on to their materials a little longer and reconsider proposing collection donations in 2017. At that time, a collection donation form will be accessible on the Museum website.

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!

May I volunteer?

Volunteers play an essential role in inspiring and engaging audiences. Currently, the museum is not accepting volunteer applications. If you are interested in volunteering in the future, please visit our Volunteer Program page.