Visiting the Museum

Guidelines for Visiting

  • We ask that all visitors, including those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, follow these safety measures to protect everyone’s health. Visitors who do not adhere to safety policies and guidelines may be asked to leave.
  • If Sick Stay Home. We’re asking all visitors who are sick or feel unwell to please stay home. If you are at increased risk of severe illness, you may also want to consider staying home.
  • Face Coverings. Masks are not required while visiting the National Portrait Gallery or the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Visitors may choose to wear a mask during their visit and are encouraged to do so when attending public programs.
  • Social Distancing. We encourage visitors to maintain a safe social distance of six feet or more between households or groups.

Know Before You Go

  • In an effort to standardize security throughout the Smithsonian Institution and ensure the safety of visitors, the artworks and objects within the National Portrait Gallery, visitors will experience new security measures. All visitors will be required to pass through screening at the museum's G Street and F Street entrances. Those who are unable to go through the metal detector will be hand-screened with an electronic wand by security personnel. Visitors who do not adhere to safety policies and guidelines may be asked to leave. The Smithsonian reserves the right to modify its hours of operation, capacity, and visitor guidelines as circumstances require.
  • The Portrait Gallery encourages visitors to limit the number of personal belongings and bags brought on-site. Doing so will increase your speed through security checkpoints and help all maintain a safe social distance.
  • Suitcases, large umbrellas, and large backpacks are not allowed in the galleries.  Please note that we do not offer coat or bag storage.  Strollers are permitted in the galleries.  All visitors are required to pass through security screening at the museum’s G Street and F Street Entrances.  Security officers may ask visitors to hand-carry smaller backpacks, or wear them on the front of their bodies.
  • Updated information about Smithsonian COVID-19 guidelines and safety measures are online.
  • All children (under the age of 18) must be accompanied by an adult chaperone. At least one (1) adult chaperone is required to accompany up to five (5) children.

Plan Your Visit

In advance of visiting the Portrait Gallery, please review our list of permitted AND prohibited items:

Items Permitted:

  • Strollers
  • Cameras
  • Mobility aids (canes, walkers, etc.)
  • Service animals (not emotional support animals)
  • Bottled water
  • Food and drink to be enjoyed in the Courtyard only

Items Not Permitted:

  • Firearms / ammunition
  • Knives (including pen, pocket or "Swiss Army"-style knives)
  • Aerosol cans (including pepper spray and Mace)
  • Scissors
  • Tools (screwdrivers, awls, etc.)
  • Placards, signs, or banners
  • Pets (except service animals)
  • Wagons (collapsible and fixed wheel)

Items You Are Prohibited from Using Inside the Portrait Gallery:

  • No tripods, selfie sticks, or similar long tools are permitted in the galleries to protect the artworks.


  • Barrier-free access to the National Portrait Gallery is available.
  • Ramps are located on both sides of the 8th and G Streets NW entrance. 
  • If you are using MetroAccess Paratransit, please use 800 G Street NW as the address for our building. Wheelchairs are also available and subject to enhanced cleaning regulations.

View our Accessibility page for detailed information.

Need Help Planning?  

Visit the Smithsonian's Virtual Visitor Center.