Skip navigation
Share this page

Frequently Asked Questions


What are your admission fees and hours?

Washington, D.C. museums are open every day except December 25. For complete information on admission and hours go to Visit on this website or call 202-633-1000 (voice/tape).

Admission is free for all Smithsonian museums and the zoo in Washington, D.C., and the American Indian Museum's George Gustav Heye Center in New York. Tickets are not used for general admission.

A fee is required at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York (Members and children under age 12 are admitted free).

How do I plan a visit to the Smithsonian?

You can plan your trip online. Go to Visit on this website or call 202-633-1000 (voice/tape).

What information is available for visitors with disabilities?

The booklet Smithsonian Access (currently out of print) provides information on the services available to visitors with disabilities—including parking, building access, and accessibility services. To obtain a printed copy of Smithsonian Access or a large-type, audio cassette, or Braille edition call 202-633-1000 (voice/tape).

I would like to donate an object to the Smithsonian Institution. What should I do?

The Smithsonian acquires thousands of objects and specimens each year for its collection holdings through donation, bequest, purchase, exchange, and field collecting. The Institution accepts only items that truly fill a gap in the collections and then only after careful consideration by museum curators and directors. Because of this rigorous selection process, the Smithsonian adds to its collections only a tiny percentage of what it is offered.

The first thing you should do is contact the Smithsonian museum most closely associated with your object. For example, if it is an Amish quilt, you could contact the National Museum of American History. Once you have contacted the museum, you should be able to obtain the name of a contact person or curator responsible for the specific subject area. Inform the individual about the object that you would like to donate. The person, at that time, may be able to tell you if the museum would be interested or not.

If you are unable to speak to someone, send an email inquiry including a description of the object, copies of associated information (bill of sale, family or object history, etc.) and a photograph of the object. Under no circumstance should you mail any objects to the Smithsonian without first receiving permission to do so. Send your e-mail to Smithsonian Information at, or call 202-633-1000 (voice/tape). If the museum is interested in accepting your donation, museum staff will notify you of the procedures to follow. If the museum cannot accommodate the donation, staff may recommend a more appropriate museum or repository which can effectively use the object.

Smithsonian Information
PO Box 37012
SI Building, Room 153, MRC 010
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012

Can the Smithsonian provide appraisals?

The Smithsonian Institution does not, as a matter of policy, offer monetary evaluations. However, we have compiled information that we trust will be helpful. This information is not intended to be comprehensive and does not constitute an endorsement by the Smithsonian Institution.

What is the value of my violin? Is it authentic?

The Smithsonian Institution, as a matter of legal and ethical policy, does not determine the monetary value of musical instruments. For such an appraisal, we recommend that you have your instrument examined by a reliable violin dealer in your area.

Where can I buy Smithsonian Products?

All museums have stores with items related to the collections of the museum and our catalog and online store offer an even greater selection. Note: Smithsonian members are reminded to bring their membership card to receive a discount on purchases.

How do I change my address for the Smithsonian Magazine?

Fill out this easy online form: Internet Subscriber Services

How do I order back issues of the Smithsonian Magazine?

Articles from Smithsonian magazine are not reprinted. However, back issues can be purchased from the Smithsonian or can be found in many public or university libraries

How do I order back issues of the Air & Space Magazine?

Back issues of Air & Space magazine can be purchased from the Smithsonian or can be found in many public or university libraries.

How do I care for antiques and heirlooms?

Staff specialists at the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education (SCMRE) are asked questions on a wide variety of subjects relative to caring for and preserving artifacts and heirlooms. Broad guidelines and strategies for artifact and collections care have been compiled into guideline pamphlets.