Accessibility for Visitors

Making all visitors feel welcome
participant with service dog at Cooper Hewitt Lab: Design Access symposium photo by Scott Rudd

The Smithsonian strives to make all visitors feel welcome. Some accessibility features include:

  • Accessible facilities and at least one entrance that is accessible to visitors with limited mobility. View our Accessibility Map (PDF) for accessible entrances, parking, and more.
  • Free manual wheelchair loans available at every museum in Washington, D.C., and the National Zoo on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitors are welcome to use their own mobility devices. Please note this does not include devices used strictly for recreational purposes.  
  • Open captioning of exhibition videos and audio description incorporated into some exhibitions.
  • Tactile elements included throughout the museums. Tactile and/or verbal description tours can be arranged by contacting a museum; two weeks advance notice is appreciated. For details, visit the museums' websites below.
  • Sign language interpretation for scheduled tours can be arranged by contacting the museum; two weeks advance notice is appreciated. For details, visit the museums' websites below.
  • Access services for public programs can be arranged by contacting the museum in advance. For details, visit the museums' websites below.
  • IMAX movies shown during regular museum hours of operation offer assistive listening devices, audio-description and rear-window captioning. For details, view our IMAX Theater and Planetarium Accessibility FAQ.
  • The Smithsonian Guide and Map is available in Braille onsite at the museum information desks. A large print version (PDF) of the Guide and Map is available online and onsite at museum information desks.
  • Resources for visitors with cognitive or sensory processing disabilities are available online.

Museum-specific Information

Pre-visit Videos

These pre-visit videos are designed to help prepare for situations one may encounter at the Smithsonian museums. Videos address what to expect, museum rules and routines, safety information, and more.

what_is_the_smithsonian.mp4

What is the Smithsonian?

Visitors may expect a variety of exhibitions, crowd levels, and environments while visiting the Smithsonian. This video explores the some of the different experiences visitors may have.

preparing_to_visit_the_smithsonian_institution.mp4

Preparing to visit the Smithsonian

There are many things to consider before arriving at the Smithsonian, including what to bring and how to get here. This video demonstrates how to use the website to plan what to see and do at the Smithsonian.

how_to_enter_the_smithsonian_institution_museums.mp4

How to enter the Smithsonian museums

Many people visit Smithsonian museums, and getting inside involves a few easy steps. This video walks you through the entry process, which may include waiting in line, interacting with security officers, and going through magnetometers.

making_choices_at_the_smithsonian.mp4

Making choices at the Smithsonian

With all the Smithsonian offers, it is not possible to see and do everything. This video talks about choices visitors can make to enjoy their experience.

what_is_an_exhibit.mp4

What is an exhibit?

This video shows differences you may find in exhibitions around the Smithsonian, including light levels, hands-on opportunities, sound levels, and content.

These videos were made possible by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.

Contact Us

Access Smithsonian strives to provide consistent, effortless access to the Institution's programs, collections, and facilities. For more information on accessibility policies and programs, call 202.633.2921 or email access@si.edu.

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