Visiting Tips

Things to Know Before You Go

We have compiled this list of tips to make your visit to the Museum easier and more enjoyable. Staff are also available to answer your questions at the Southwest Airlines Welcome Center.

Add Time to Your Visit: Give yourself ample time to visit the Museum. Lines to enter the Museum tend to be longest during peak season (March - August), holidays, and weekends. 



Limit the Number of Bags: All visitors are screened through metal detectors upon entry. The fewer items you bring inside the Museum, the faster your entry (and visitors behind you). Before you visit, please review the list of prohibited items, which include pocket knives and tripods. Visitors carrying prohibited items will not be allowed inside the Museum, so please leave them at home or in your car.


What to Wear

Dress Comfortably: A visit to the Smithsonian usually involves a lot of walking. Wear comfortable shoes and layers of clothing.


What to Wear

Connect to our WIFI: Connecting to our WI-FI is easy. Just choose SI-VISITOR, open a web browser, and accept the terms of service.


Food and Drink

No Food and Drink: Only bottled water is permitted in the Museum. You may only consume food and other drinks in the Food Court, not in the Museum. Groups who bring food are encouraged to picnic on the National Mall.



Please Take Photos!: You are welcome to take photos for personal use (and share them on Flickr!). However, the use of tripods, monopods, and selfie sticks is prohibited with the exception of their use by the media or press which requires prior approval. For professionals, please see our photography and filming policy.



Wheelchairs: A limited number of non-motorized wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis; please ask at the Southwest Airlines Welcome Center. We do not provide strollers or motorized wheelchairs.


Using Elevators and Escalators

Use the Escalators: Elevators are for visitors with disabilities and families with strollers. Other visitors should use stairs and escalators. Do not take strollers on escalators, and please keep children from playing on them to avoid injury.


Buy Tickets Early

Buy Tickets EarlyIMAX and Planetarium show tickets can sell out during busy months or when popular films are showing. We recommend you buy tickets online in advance. You can purchase tickets for the Planetarium or the IMAX Theater from both box offices.


Print Maps

Download and Print Maps & Guides: The Museum has a limited number of printed maps to provide visitors, so we recommend you print floor plans at home before coming to the Museum.


Feel Secure

Ask for Help: Security officers are located throughout the building to protect the Museum, its collections, and most importantly, our visitors. Please feel free to ask them for assistance.


First Aid

First Aid: The Museum has a First Aid office and a nurse on duty. Please contact the nearest security officer or the Southwest Airlines Welcome Center for assistance.