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The safety of the Smithsonian's visitors, volunteers, staff, and collections is of the highest importance. As the nation's most beloved collection of museums and galleries, we work hard every day to ensure the preservation of our country's treasures for the enjoyment of generations to come.
When you visit any of the Smithsonian's buildings you will discover that we have security measures to ensure your safety and the safety of the objects contained within. You'll be greeted upon entry by one of our security personnel who will conduct a thorough but speedy hand-check of all bags, briefcases, purses, and containers.
At some museums, such as the Air and Space, American History, Natural History, Postal, and American Indian Museums, visitors are required to walk through a metal detector. Those who are unable to go through the metal detector will be hand-screened with an electronic wand by security personnel. Bag checks will be conducted via an x-ray machine at the Air and Space Museum and Postal Museum. At all other museums, bags will be checked by hand.
Because of the security measures, the lines for entry to the museums may be long during peak seasons and holidays. We ask for your patience, cooperation, and assistance in keeping America's treasures safe.
We ask that when you visit the Smithsonian that you help us to ensure our collections remain safe. Please consider leaving any items that need to be checked by security at home or at the hotel to speed entry.
Found items are held for up to 24 hours in a museum's security office before moving to our central Lost and Found Office at 202-633-5630.
The Smithsonian permits still and video photography for noncommercial use only in its museums and exhibitions, unless otherwise posted.
For the safety of our visitors and collections, the Smithsonian prohibits the use of tripods or monopods in our museums and gardens. Monopod selfie sticks are included in this policy. This is a preventive measure to protect visitors and objects, especially during crowded conditions. We encourage museum visitors to take selfies and share their experiences—and leave the selfie sticks in their bags.
Working members of the media who need to use a tripod or monopod must obtain permission from the museum's Public Affairs Office and must be escorted by a museum staff member while in the building or garden.
Smoking is prohibited in all Smithsonian facilities.
Manual wheelchairs (a limited number) are available on a first-come, first-served basis for use within each museum. The Udvar-Hazy Center can accommodate groups needing wheelchairs.
Strollers are permitted in all museums*; a limited number of strollers are
available for rent at the Zoo.
*Note: Strollers currently are not permitted in the Renwick galleries on Friday, Saturday and Sunday; holidays; and at other times when the galleries are especially crowded. Stroller parking is available at the 17th Street accessible entrance. This temporary measure is to protect the artworks.
Pets (except service animals) are not permitted in the museums or the National Zoo.
Lockers are subject to CLOSE WITHOUT NOTICE. Security requires all bags be inspected before they can be placed in self-service checkrooms or lockers. Lockers are for the use of museum patrons only while they visit the Smithsonian.
BAG LUNCHES, properly closed and secured, can be stored at these facilities.
*Most lockers are appropriate for coats, small bags, and carry-on luggage.
Alternate non-Smithsonian location:
Union Station luggage storage room
6 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily
charge determined by size of bag & length of time
open to public (not just rail passengers)
need photo ID
Visitation policies at the Smithsonian Institution are designed to protect visitors and staff as well as secure and preserve the collections, facilities, and historic buildings entrusted to the Smithsonian's care.
Visitors who violate these rules may be subject to fine or imprisonment. The complete Smithsonian buildings and grounds regulations can be found in Title 36 of Code of Federal Regulations, parts 504 and 520 (National Zoo).