Updated October 2018
Since its September 2016 Grand Opening, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has created remarkable interest and drawn heavy crowds day after day. Many visitors — and those planning to visit —have questions. We’ve tried to answer some of the most popular ones in this African-American Museum FAQ:
Why are timed passes required for entry? No other Smithsonian uses them.
Because of the crowds, timed passes allow a smoother entry flow into the museum.
Note that in January 2019, the museum will resume its Walk-Up Weekdays experiment, in which individuals will be able to enter the museum on a first-come, first-served basis Monday through Friday for the entire month. Timed entry passes will not be available for individuals on weekdays in January. Timed entry passes still will be required for groups of 10 or more in January 2019, however.
How far in advance do I need to get my tickets?
Well in advance. The museum makes advance passes available on the first Wednesday of each month on its website, and they go quickly. These passes are for visits three months later – ie., you can reserve June tickets the first week of March. Check the museum’s website for more details.
How do timed entry passes work?
They are free. The maximum number of tickets per visitor is six. You can print your tickets or show them to a staffer at the entrance on your mobile device. They can be used only once. All ages are required to have a ticket.
But I have a school group of 50-plus. How do we get tickets?
As of fall 2018, the museum temporarily suspended group reservations due to excessive demand.
When the museum is accepting group reservations, school, religious and community-based organizations with 10 or more attendees should call ETIX Customer Support Center at (800) 514-3849 or (919) 653-0443. The museum recommends one adult chaperone for every five students. For popular spring tour dates, call early.
Note that if you are working with a tour operator like Julian Tours, the process is slightly different, and you should discuss your needs with the company.
Are same-day tickets available?
The museum makes a limited number of same-day timed passes available online every day at 6:30 a.m. ET. Visitors can get a maximum of four.
A limited number of walk-up passes (one per person) are available starting at 1 p.m. on weekdays on the Madison Drive side of the building.
When is the museum open?
Normal hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The museum is open every day but Christmas.
What is entrance security like?
It matches security at other Smithsonian museums. For quicker entry, students are encouraged not to bring their backpacks.
How long does it take to see the museum?
Ah, the oldest question in town. The museum says you can’t see it all in one visit, and that’s true — if you read about everything you see. Most museum trips are often two hours and provide an general overview of the venue. We have created a suggested itinerary for a two-hour school group tour.
What are the most popular exhibits?
The museum, nearly every corner of it, has been so popular that it’s difficult to say. We recommend the slave cabin from South Carolina as well as slave shackles and badges. The museum is more than the history of slavery and Civil Rights movement, though. It also features exhibits about everyday African-American life and culture. The 3,000 objects on display touch on many topics, including music, fashion, athletics, education, literature, military and religion.
Can we eat lunch there?
Yes, there is a cafeteria (the Sweet Home Cafe) on the Concourse level.
Where is the bus drop-off?
The museum is on 14th Street between Constitution Avenue and Madison Drive NW. It is across 14th Street from the American History museum. Since the NMAAHC doesn’t have a dedicated drop-off area, the best plan is to drop off at the American History museum and walk across the street.
Is there an outreach program for educators?
Yes, visit this page on the NMAAC’s website for more information: https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/educators
Julian Tours has produced a free, downloadable guide for educators and others planning a group visit to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Click below for more information: