Tips & Guidelines

Know before you go! Thank you for observing the following policies to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit. If you have any questions, please use our contact form or contact us at (202) 633-8300.

Art and Safety

Appreciate the works of art but please don’t touch them. For your safety and the safety of our collections, please do not run in the museum. We do not allow shoes with wheels inside the galleries.

Backpacks and Purses

Please carry backpacks and purses in front of your body or at your side, not on your back, where they can easily bump into artworks. Suitcases and full-length umbrellas should be left in the coatrooms at the F and G Street entrances. Lockers are also provided for your convenience.


Photography is allowed at the National Portrait Gallery unless otherwise noted. Hand-held photos with a flash can be taken in the museum’s galleries and the Great Hall. Please be mindful that the spaces are open to the public, therefore visitors should not stage any photographs that impede others’ enjoyment of the spaces. The only place where visitors may use tripods is in the Kogod Courtyard. Standing and hand-held lights are not permitted in the building.

Commercial photography requests should be sent to the Department of Communications at (202) 633-8299 or

Service Animals

Service animals are welcome in the museum. Pets are not allowed. For more on accessibility, please visit our accessibility page.

Lost and Found

The Smithsonian's Lost and Found Office matches lost property with daily lost property reports, and inspects lost property for information that can facilitate return to its owner. Lost property is returned to its rightful owner whenever possible. The office can be reached at (202) 633-5630, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.


Sketching is permitted. Please be extremely careful with your drawing tools, and respect the artwork and your fellow visitors. Use only dry, non-chalky media; pencil is preferred, however, wax crayon, conté crayon, and erasers are acceptable. Loose ink, fountain pens, felt-tipped pens, ballpoint pens, oil crayon, paint (including watercolors), easels/stands and charcoal, or pastel in stick form are not allowed. Drawing boards and sketch pads must be no larger than 18 x 24 inches.

Cell Phones 

Please limit cell phone calls in the galleries, unless using the phone for an exhibition tour.

Eating and Drinking

Enjoy food, drinks, and snacks in the Courtyard Café and Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard, but please don’t bring them into the galleries.


Please do not smoke in the museum, courtyard, and porticos, or within 25 feet of all museum entrances. Smoking in these areas is prohibited by law.