When I visited Washington D.C. in August, I had some free time from when I arrived until the plans I had for dinner. I didn’t think much about what to do during the day, because I was going to be in Washington. There’s tons of things to do. Worst case would be walking around the monuments and through the Smithsonian museums. I remembered the one museum I have never seen, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, is now open. Why not go to check it out?
When I arrived, I realized that just walking into the museum wasn’t going to happen. There was a huge queue already outside and another queue where people were handing in tickets. In fact, the museum is so popular that you need to make a reservation time entry way in advance.
Here’s how to make a reservation if you want to visit the museum.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
1400 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.
The museum is really easy to find as it’s located in the shadow of the Washington Monument. Look towards the U.S. Capitol and it’s the first building on the left. The stunning design of the exterior makes it hard to miss.
The museum is open from 10 AM to 5:30 PM every day, and is only closed on Christmas Day.
While admission to the museum is free, you need to get a ticket to enter. That’s the tricky park.
How can you get a ticket to the museum?
On the first Wednesday of every month, the tickets for three months in advance are released. For example, On October 3, 2018 all of the available advance tickets for January 2019 were released. The next release date was November 7, 2018. which was for February 2019. And so on, and so on, and so on…
Tickets tend to go fast so if you have a date you need, you better make plans to check ASAP once they’re released. It’s best to have a couple of days to choose from, if you can. NOTE: You can only order up to six tickets per session.
Find out more at the Timed Entry Pass website.
Same Day Online
If you weren’t able to grab an advance ticket, you may be able to grab some tickets for the same day. At 6:30 AM ET, whatever timed tickets still available for that day are released until they’re gone. NOTE: You can only order four tickets per session for same day arrival.
Walk Up Tickets
I wouldn’t put too much hope in this but if you REALLY want to see the museum, you can always hope. 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. No walk-up passes are available on Saturdays or Sundays due to high visitation.
Madison Drive is the road that goes “behind” the building. If you’re directionally challenged like I am (Note from Sharon: Oh, yes he IS! LOL! Fortunately, I am not…), you want to be at the side of the building that faces across the National Mall. This can be confusing as this is not the main entrance and there’s no sign to tell you where to line up.
Special Admission Programs
The museum is trying different things to balance attendance limits and the museum’s popularity. When I talked to my friends who live in the area, they said they’ve never been cause they don’t plan out that far in ahead to get tickets. The Smithsonian is trying to bring in some of these locals during the slower tourist season by offering things such as holding some tickets back to allow for same-day walk-ups.
Veterans, Active Duty or First Responders
Anyone in these categories are welcome to enter the museum without a timed ticket. After showing a military, work ID or badge, veterans, active duty personnel and first responders may enter and bring one guest with them for their visit.
Entry to the museum is always subject to capacity of the building. If the museum is at or nearing capacity, all visitors (including veterans, active duty personnel and first responders) will be asked to wait until the museum has room to accommodate new visitors. Weekends and holidays are peak visitation times.
What if you get tickets but miss your assigned time?
While they ask that you do your best to arrive at the museum by the time on your pass, they allow pass holders to enter at any time after the time stated on their pass that day. The time on your pass helps their Office of Protection Services to maintain safe hourly visitor counts. If the museum is at capacity then pass holders, regardless of the time on their pass, will be asked to wait until the museum has room to accommodate new visitors.
Does your child need a pass?
Each visitor requires a pass. Adults need to obtain free timed passes for all small children and infants. Timed passes help them account for the time necessary to enter the museum and go through the security process.
Many other questions are answered on the Frequently Asked Questions page of the museum website.
I’m really happy this museum is so popular, even if it means I need to plan in advance (or visit in January, brrrrrrrr). The exhibits look wonderful, covering the entire history of America, the good and the bad. Oh, and they’re getting the Black Panther costume too.
During my trip, I did manage to check out several other museums that I’d never visited and I’m always amazed at how much of our American history is right there in front of us and how few people take the time to learn any of it.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary