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How Visiting the Smithsonian Museums Has Changed In 2021

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People from all over the world come to Washington DC to learn about American history at the Smithsonian Museums. Our nation’s capital, like most of the country, is in the process of reopening for visitors. So, if you plan on visiting the Smithsonian Museums post Covid, here is what you need to know.

 Due to the pandemic, the days of casually strolling in and out of the museums are over-at least for the time being. The Smithsonian Institution is gradually reopening America’s beloved museums with new timed entry passes to monitor capacity limits for visits. If you are planning to visit Washington DC and the Smithsonian Museums soon, here is what you need to know to plan your visit. 

How To Visit The Smithsonian Museums Post Covid

Admission Requirements

  • Call Or Go Online For Timed Entry Passes. Visitors can get their timed entry passes by calling 1 (800) 514-3849, ext. 1 or online on the Smithsonian website. 
  • Passes Can Be Reserved Up To 30 Days in Advance

To avoid disappointment, your best bet is to reserve your timed entry passes as early as possible. The museums are one of the most popular attractions in Washington, and people will be eager to resume visits to the Smithsonian. The supply will not be able to keep up with the demand for quite some time as capacity limits are gradually increased. 

  • Visitors Can Reserve Up To 6 Passes for Personal Use, Groups Larger than 12 Are Strictly Prohibited.
  • All children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult- One adult chaperone is required to accompany up to 5 children.
  • The Passes are Valid Only For the Issued Date and Time and may not be sold or transferred. 

Requirements for Museums Visits

  • Social Distancing The museums have set capacity limits that make social distancing easier. Visitors are encouraged to maintain social distancing practices during their visit.
  • Face Coverings Masks and other face coverings are required in all Smithsonian Museums during your visit. 
  • Hand Washing and Sanitizer These procedures are encouraged with signage and hand sanitizer provided at museum locations. 

Entry Pass Details

  • Passes Can Be Printed Or Downloaded To Your Phone. The printed and digital passes are scanned at museum entrances. 
  • The Museums and the Zoo Operating At Limited Capacities. Due to the high demand, the free timed entry passes frequently sell out on certain days. Visitors are encouraged to check back on the Smithsonian’s website on a regular basis to see if more passes become available closer to your trip. The Institution is working on gradually increasing the museum capacity limits over time.
  • Walk Ups May Be Accommodated if the Building is Not At Full Capacity. The museums may be able to accommodate walk ins; however, the museum cannot guarantee an entrance without the timed entry pass. 

FYI on Washington DC

  • Masks are required on all public transportation in the Washington DC metro area. 
  • Social Distancing Practices are Encouraged at All Monuments and Public Places
  • Indoor and Outdoor Dining has resumed in the Washington DC metro area. Many dining and entertainment establishments in the city require reservations. Most have timed reservations and social distanced seating available. Masks are no longer a requirement for entry. 
  • Currently in the city, the monuments and outdoor attractions are allowing visitors back in with social distancing requested and no mask mandates.

Get back to visiting the Smithsonian Museums this summer!


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