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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:

COVID-19 Safety Measures

Face masks are optional indoors. No proof of vaccination is required for entry or dining.

Learn more about our COVID-19 safety measures.

West and East Building Visitor Policies

Visitors, as well as their backpacks, coolers, purses, packages, and other containers, may be subject to inspection.

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. Please keep a distance of about two feet from the art at all times.

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.

You are welcome to check backpacks, free of charge. Otherwise, please wear them on one shoulder.

Interacting with Staff

Our dedicated staff are here to make your visit safe and enjoyable. Please treat them with respect. We value empathy, integrity, diversity, equity, access, and inclusion. Abusive, harassing, discriminatory, or threatening language or behavior toward staff or other visitors will not be tolerated. Thank you for helping us create a positive and welcoming environment for all.


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.

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.


  • All bags will be inspected before they can be placed in the checkrooms or carried into the National Gallery.  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. 
  • You are welcome to check water bottles, free of charge. Otherwise please keep them concealed at all times. 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 they may be carried into the galleries. The National Gallery is not responsible for loss of or damage to items of any value. 

Food and Drink

  • You are welcome to check water bottles, free of charge. Otherwise please keep them concealed at all times. Glass containers are not permitted.
  • Food and drink is only permitted in the National Gallery cafés and may not be carried into the galleries or auditoriums.
  • Please leave all food in the checkrooms. Enjoy dining at our cafés, but please don’t bring in any outside food.
  • 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. 

Guided Tours

Join us for free, daily guided tours. These one-hour tours meet in the Rotunda of the National Gallery’s West Building. For groups of 15 or more people, please schedule a group tour.

Independent Groups

While independently led groups are always welcome, we ask that they please yield to National Gallery of Art tour groups as a courtesy to all visitors and follow all visitor policies.


We have limited parking set aside for vehicles bearing appropriate tags or placards for visitors with disabilities on the 4th Street Plaza outside of the East Building. 

See more info about getting here.

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.

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.) Skates, skateboards, bicycles, and scooters are not permitted inside the Sculpture Garden during special events.

Only service animals are allowed.

Sculpture Garden Ice Rink Rules

Please do not skate fast during busy sessions. 

Please skate in a counterclockwise direction and do not skate against the flow of traffic. 

Wristbands must be shown to a Rink Guard each time you enter. 

All instructions from Rink Guards must be adhered to at all times. Skaters must leave the ice promptly when requested. 

Skates are allowed only on the ice and black matting. No skates permitted outside of the holding area. 

Please do not carry food or drink onto the ice.  

Smoking and vaping are prohibited in the Sculpture Garden. 

No cameras, cell phones, handbags, backpacks, skating assisting devices may be taken onto the ice.  

Please do not hang clothing on the railings. 

Please do not crowd the railings or entrances to the ice. 

No more than two skaters may join hands. 

Jumps and spins are allowed only at center ice and during non-peak hours. 

An adult must accompany children under 12 years of age on the ice. 

Skaters must proceed promptly to the skaters' assembly area for removal of skates at the end of each session. 

Rental skates must be returned immediately after the session. 

Failure to follow any of the above rules will result in the immediate termination of your admission. 


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


Smoking is prohibited in all National Gallery facilities.


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

Visitors to Non-Public Spaces

National Gallery staff should submit a signed attestation form for any visitor to non-public spaces.

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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