Morning at the Museum
A free sensory-friendly program for families of children with disabilities.
The Smithsonian strives to make all visitors feel welcome.
All Smithsonian Institution buildings have at least one accessible entrance. Patrons are welcome to use mobility devices such as wheelchairs, motorized scooters, and other power-driven mobility devices when visiting.
Individuals with mobility disabilities or devices can find information about accessible parking and transit options by exploring the “Getting Here” information of the museum(s) they wish to visit.
Entrance lines to Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo can be quite long, especially during busier times of the year. Visitors who are unable to wait/stand in line for extended periods of time should contact the visitor services office of the museum(s) they plan to visit to discuss options.
Every Smithsonian museum has a limited number of manual wheelchairs that visitors may borrow during their museum visit free-of-charge. These wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be reserved. Smithsonian museums do not offer motorized wheelchairs or scooters. However, the National Zoo offers electronic convenience vehicle rental to visitors for a fee on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that a Smithsonian wheelchair may only be used in the building from which it was borrowed. These wheelchairs cannot be used to travel between Smithsonian locations.
We encourage patrons to bring their own mobility devices (including manual and motorized wheelchairs and scooters) to our museums, and many of our out-of-town visitors have chosen to do so by renting mobility equipment from private companies in the Washington, D.C., metro area. Visitors who bring a mobility aid or device with them should plan to maintain possession of the item throughout their visit.
Visitors with disabilities are welcome to bring manual or motorized wheelchairs, scooters, and other power-driven mobility devices when visiting the Smithsonian. Please note that gasoline-powered devices are strictly prohibited inside Smithsonian buildings.
Visual description and/or sighted guide tours are available at all Smithsonian museums. Visitors who would like to schedule a tour should contact the museum(s) they plan to visit.
Additionally, the Smithsonian American Art Museum is pleased to offer regularly-scheduled visual description tours as part of their America InSight program. For more information and a list of upcoming program dates, please visit the America InSight website.
Aira Access mobile information and verbal description service is available at Smithsonian museums in the Washington, D.C., metro area. Visitors can download the free Aira app on a smartphone, connect to each museum's free Wi-Fi, and use the app to speak to an Aira agent using minutes provided courtesy of the Smithsonian. Visitors can download the AIRA app from iTunes or Google Play.
When a visitor has the AIRA app and opens it in one of our facilities, there will be an option to select the Smithsonian minutes.
Individual Smithsonian museums may offer additional resources (ranging from large-print guides to smartphone apps) to assist individuals with visual disabilities during their visit. Please contact the visitor services office(s) of the museum(s) you wish to visit to learn more about their access service options.
Open captioning is provided on Smithsonian media online and in exhibitions.
Interpretation services for individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing is available upon request for all public programs and scheduled tours. To request this service, please contact the museum hosting the event or program.
Additionally, several Smithsonian museums offer regularly scheduled ASL programming:
Smithsonian museums do not offer dedicated hours or open early for neurodiverse visitors by request.
Access Smithsonian is proud, however, to offer our popular Morning at the Museum (MATM) program. Morning at the Museum is a free, sensory-friendly program for families of children, teens, and young adults who are neurodiverse. On a Saturday or Sunday morning each month, one specific Smithsonian museum opens an hour early to pre-registered families. Please visit the MATM website for upcoming program dates and registration information.
The Smithsonian publishes a variety of pre-visit materials including social narratives, videos, and sensory maps that can assist neurodiverse individuals plan their visit. These pre-visit materials can be found on the Access Smithsonian website and on the websites of many Smithsonian museums.
The Smithsonian does not offer sensory bags at any of its museums, however visitors are welcome to bring their own equipment or materials.
Entrance lines to Smithsonian Institution museums and the National Zoo can be quite long, especially during busier times of the year. Visitors who are unable to wait/stand in line for extended periods of time should contact the visitor services office of the museum(s) they plan to visit to discuss options.
January, February, September, October, and December are usually less busy, quieter times of year to visit.
Visitation will vary depending on holidays, school vacations, weather, and other factors however Smithsonian museums are generally more crowded in the afternoon.
Sound levels in Smithsonian museums can vary depending on the time of day, time of year, and show schedules. Visitors are welcome to bring noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs with them on their visit if they choose.
Access Smithsonian is proud to offer See Me at the Smithsonian—a free, virtual interactive program for adults with dementia and their care partners. For more information and a list of upcoming program dates, please visit the See Me at the Smithsonian website.
See Me at the Smithsonian and its Spanish-language twin, See Me en Español, are also offered for larger groups and communities by reservation. To request a private group program, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Service dogs that have been trained to provide an individual work task for a person with a disability are welcome at the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian follows the U.S. Department of Justice's ADA requirements for service dogs. Visitors are not allowed to bring emotional support animals into Smithsonian museums or onto Smithsonian properties.
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. Please note that some experiences demonstrated in these videos, such as entrance processes may have changed slightly due to COVID-19.
These videos were made possible by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.