Guidelines and Policies

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

  1. Visitors are unable to bring in their own food; the Courtyard Café is closed temporarily. No smoking, eating, or drinking is allowed in museum galleries or 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 large backpacks are not allowed in the galleries. Security officers may ask visitors to hand-carry smaller backpacks, or wear them on the front of their bodies. Please note that we do not offer coat or bag storage.
  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.

Know Before You Go: Guidelines for Visiting

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

Visitors ages six and older are required to wear a face covering during their visit. Face coverings are also strongly recommended for visitors between the ages of two and six. Face shields or any kind of face covering or mask with an exhalation valve are not permitted. Face coverings should be worn over the nose and mouth. Face coverings may be removed while drinking in designated spaces.

Social Distancing

Please maintain a safe social distance of six feet or more between households or groups at all times. There will be social-distancing signage and directions throughout the museum.


Please wash and sanitize hands frequently during your visit and practice good hygiene. Hand-sanitizing stations will be available throughout the museum.

Personal Belongings

We encourage you to limit the number of personal belongings and bags you bring to SAAM and the Renwick Gallery. Suitcases, large umbrellas, and backpacks are not allowed in the galleries. Security officers may ask you to hand-carry smaller backpacks, or wear them on your front, to protect the artworks. Please note that we do not offer coat check or bag storage at this time. Strollers are permitted in the galleries. 


Barrier-free access to both SAAM’s main building and its Renwick Gallery are available.

Visitors to the Smithsonian American Art Museum must scan their timed-entry passes using a contactless scanner at the Eighth and G St. Entrances.

At SAAM, 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.

At the Renwick Gallery, visitors are not required to obtain timed-entry passes. We can accommodate safe crowd management and implement safe social distancing for the limited number of visitors allowed at this time. A ramp at the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW leads to an accessible entrance.

Accessible Access

An access ramp is located at the museums’ G Street entrance. All visitors will be directed to enter and exit through this entrance at 8th and G Streets NW. The museums’ F Street entrance is closed.


The Smithsonian Washington, D.C.-metropolitan area museums and the National Zoo are Aira access sites. Visitors who are blind or low-vision can download the Aira app free of charge onto a smart phone. The Aira app uses the phone’s camera to take in the user’s surroundings, and a live Aira agent will describe the environment, including reading of exhibit labels and instructions. This service is free of charge on the Museum premises. Visit Aria Access.


A personal care attendant accompanying a visitor will also need a free timed-entry pass.

Service animals are welcome at Smithsonian museums. Service animals, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, are dogs trained to do work or perform specific tasks for a guest with a disability. 

Photography and Videography Policies

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 and professional filming requests 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.