Accessibility for Visitors

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

The Smithsonian strives to make all visitors feel welcome.

  • All buildings are accessible and at least one entrance is accessible to visitors with limited mobility. View our Accessibility Map (PDF) for accessible entrances, parking, and more.
  • Free manual wheelchair loans are available at all museums and the zoo on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Open captioning and audio description are incorporated into exhibition videos.
  • Access services for public programs can be arranged by contacting the hosting museum in advance.
  • Tactile and/or verbal description tours can be arranged by contacting the hosting museum—two weeks advance notice is appreciated. Tactile elements are included throughout the museums.
  • Sign language interpretation for all public programs can be arranged by contacting the hosting museum—two weeks advance notice is appreciated.
  • Aira Access mobile information and verbal description service is available at museums in the Washington, D.C., metro area. Visitors can download the free Aira app, 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. Please visit the Aira Access website for more 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. Please note that some experiences demonstrated in these videos, such as entrance processes may have changed slightly due to COVID-19.


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

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 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

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?

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.