Visiting Tips & FAQs

Know Before You Go: 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.
General Visiting Tips
  • Look and enjoy the art in our galleries, but please do not touch the works of art.
  • Bottled water is permitted and may be consumed in the Kogod Courtyard, but it must remain sealed in the galleries.
  • 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, large bags and packages, and full-length umbrellas are not permitted.
  • You may sketch in the galleries with paper and pencil, but no paint, ink, or easels, please.
  • Please speak quietly and limit talking on your mobile phone in the galleries.
  • Handheld photography and video for personal use are allowed in the permanent collection galleries and Kogod Courtyard. Sometimes, photography of particular artworks may not be allowed in selected special exhibitions; please check the wall signage to confirm. No tripods, selfie sticks, or similar long tools are permitted in the galleries to protect the artworks. Photography and video for commercial or documentary use requires advance authorization.
  • For your safety and the safety of our collections, shoes with wheels are not allowed, nor is running.