Guidelines and Policies

Please help us protect our artworks by respecting the following guidelines:

  1. No smoking, eating, or drinking in the galleries. Food and drink are permitted in the Kogod Courtyard.
  2. Please do not touch the artworks on display; the salts and oils naturally produced on your hands are damaging to artworks, even sculpture and furniture.
  3. Suitcases, large umbrellas, and backpacks are not allowed in the galleries. Security officers may ask visitors to hand-carry smaller backpacks, or wear them on the front. Bag check is not offered, but at SAAM free lockers are available for smaller items in the lobbies. There are no lockers at the Renwick Gallery.
  4. Limit use of talking on mobile phones in the galleries out of consideration for your fellow visitors.
  5. No running, roller skating, or horseplay, as they endanger the safety of both the artworks and other visitors. Children should be carefully supervised.

Photography Policy

Handheld photography and video for personal use is generally permitted throughout the museum. 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. Commercial photography must be pre-arranged with the museum’s Office of Public Affairs by writing to


Bags, boxes, and packages may be inspected for security reasons upon entrance or exit, and officers may limit the size of what you may carry into the galleries.

If you left something behind after your visit, please call the Smithsonian’s Lost and Found Office at (202) 633-5630.


Sketching is permitted only in permanent collection galleries and the Luce Foundation Center, not in special exhibitions. Please be extremely careful with your drawing tools; show respect for the artwork and your fellow visitors.

Drawing boards and sketch pads may be no larger than 18 x 24 inches and we allow “dry” media only: pencils, wax crayon, conte crayon and erasers. Pens, loose ink, fountain pens, oil crayon, paint (including watercolors), easels or stands, and charcoal or pastel in stick form are not allowed.