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Visitor Policies

We are delighted to welcome all people to explore and experience art, creativity, and our shared humanity. For the protection of visitors and staff, as well as to preserve the National Gallery's collections and facilities, the following policies apply when visiting:

Face Masks


All visitors ages 2 and up, regardless of vaccination, are required to wear masks indoors. Masks are not required in the outdoor Sculpture Garden, except inside the Pavilion Café.


All bags will be inspected before they can be placed in the checkrooms or carried into the National Gallery. Luggage and other oversized bags will undergo X-ray screening. Items larger than 17 × 26 inches (43 × 66 centimeters) are not permitted in the checkrooms or galleries.

Free checkrooms are located at each entrance. Visitors must check luggage, oversized bags, and any other items that cannot be carried reasonably and safely in the galleries. The National Gallery reserves the right to refuse items and is not responsible for items held in the checkrooms.

Visitors must either keep water bottles concealed or contained at all times or place them in bags and check them. Visitors must either keep umbrellas in their purses or backpacks or check them.

Laptops, cameras, fur coats, and other items of value cannot be checked, but may be carried into the galleries. The National Gallery is not responsible for loss of or damage to items of value.


All galleries and facilities are wheelchair accessible. The 6th Street entrance to the West Building and the 4th Street entrance to the East Building have ramps to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers. Wheelchairs are available at all entrances on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit our Accessibility and Inclusion page for more information.


Strollers are available at all National Gallery entrances on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitors are always welcome to bring their own.

West and East Building Visitor Policies

Please do not touch objects in the galleries. Dirt, moisture, and other contaminants present on hands can stain or corrode the surfaces of artworks. Some works are more fragile than they appear, and even simple touching can cause permanent damage. 

Children may not be carried on the shoulders of another person or in a backpack child carrier. Unattended children under 12 years of age are not permitted in the galleries. Please keep your children with you at all times.

Please check or carry your backpack while in the galleries.

Cellular Phones

Talking on cellular phones is not permitted in the galleries or auditoriums. However, we do offer free, public Wi-Fi for your convenience across our campus, accessible by selecting the “NGA_Public_WiFi” network.

Food and Drink

Food and drink is permitted in the National Gallery cafés only and may not be carried into the galleries or auditoriums. Outside food and drink may not be brought into the National Gallery with the exception of water bottles. Glass containers are not permitted. In the outdoor Sculpture Garden, visitors are permitted to bring outside food but not outside alcohol. The Sculpture Garden's Pavilion Café, an independently operated restaurant, does not permit outside food.


Smoking is prohibited in all National Gallery facilities.


Sketching is permitted in the galleries (pencils and dry media only, no ink or paint).

Independent Groups

While we are not currently hosting in-person tours, we do offer a number of virtual programs. Please explore the National Gallery through our self-guided resources. Outside groups are welcome, but we ask that all participants follow visitor guidelines and protocols. 

School Tours 

For information about bringing your school group to the National Gallery of Art, see School Tours.

Sculpture Garden Policies

Unless otherwise indicated, please do not touch the art.

While visitors are permitted to bring picnics and outside food into the outdoor Sculpture Garden, the Pavilion Café is an independently operated restaurant, and as such, outside food is not permitted.

Alcoholic beverages brought from outside are prohibited and are subject to confiscation.

Do not use skates and skateboards or ride bicycles in the Sculpture Garden. (Walk beside your bicycle or secure it at one of the hitching posts located near the Constitution Avenue and Madison Drive entrances.)

Only service animals are allowed.

Photography and Video

Photography for personal use is permitted except where specifically prohibited. Monopods, tripods, and selfie sticks are not permitted inside the National Gallery buildings. Small tripods may be used by visitors on the National Gallery's outdoor grounds, including in the Sculpture Garden, except during heavily attended events.

The use of drones and other unmanned aerial devices or systems is prohibited on the property and grounds of the National Gallery.

Prohibited Activities

While on any National Gallery premises, you may not:

  • Destroy, damage, or remove property
  • Climb on any part of the building or exhibits
  • Use loud or abusive language, or perform obscene or indecent acts
  • Loiter, sleep, or participate in unauthorized assemblies
  • Engage in disorderly conduct
  • Use, possess, or sell illegal drugs
  • Bring any of the following with you:
    • Aerosol containers or nonaerosol sprays (except prescriptions for medical needs)
    • Firearms, other dangerous or deadly weapons, or explosives, either openly or concealed. The prohibition on firearms applies to all visitors, including those with firearm permits; only active law enforcement personnel authorized to carry firearms while here on official duty are excepted.
    • Coolers of any size
    • Flags on poles or sticks that do not fit into a backpack
    • Wagons, Segways, bicycles, skateboards, or powered or manual scooters. However, they are permitted on sidewalks.
    • Dogs or other animals (except service animals). However, they are permitted on sidewalks.

While on any National Gallery premises except sidewalks and designated grassy areas, you may not:

  • Protest or conduct a demonstration. The term “demonstration” includes demonstrations, picketing, speechmaking, marching, holding vigils or religious services and all other like forms of conduct that involve the communication or expression of views or grievances, engaged in by one or more persons, the conduct of which is reasonably likely to draw a crowd or onlookers.
  • Display or carry placards, signs, or banners
  • Solicit or advertise for commercial or charitable purposes or distribute advertisements, pamphlets, handbills, and flyers

Do not project images of any kind on National Gallery buildings or works of art.

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