The National Museum of the American Indian is located on the National Mall at 4th Street and Independence Avenue, S.W., in Washington, D.C. The school group entrance is on Maryland Avenue near 4th Street.
Hours and Admission
The museum is open every day, except December 25, from 10 AM to 5:30 PM. Admission is free, but reserved group entry is highly recommended for groups of ten or more.
Schedule a Visit
Educators and students, the NMAI staff is glad you are planning to visit the museum.
All groups are strongly encouraged to reserve entry to the museum. Your reservation makes it possible for the museum to send you pre-visit ideas for your class, even if you do not want a guided tour. Teachers can reserve group entry and guided school tours by either submitting an online request OR by faxing/mailing a completed registration form to the museum. After registering, you will receive a confirmation letter before your scheduled visit. Bring this confirmation letter when you visit the museum. Pre-visit teacher resources, as well as "Self Guides" for those groups not scheduling a tour, will be sent to you with the confirmation letter, and are also available on this site.
Please note: School groups (e.g., school classes, home schools, camps, scout groups, etc.) are also required to schedule entry time to the ImagiNATIONS Activity Center. Groups may only register for Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday, in 30-minute increments (i.e., 10–10:30 AM; 10:30–11 AM, etc.). Groups must be pre-K to 6th grade only, and are limited to 30 students per hour, with a requirement of one chaperone for every five students. Registration requests must be made at least 48 hours in advance. To reserve a group entry time, contact Group Reservations at 202-633-6644. Please remember to bring your confirmation letter on the day of your visit.
Teacher Self Guide: Stories
Teacher Self Guide: Community
Pre-Visit Guide for Teachers
All school groups must be chaperoned. The museum requires that each teacher assign one adult for every ten students for grades 3 and up. Pre-K through second grade requires one adult for every five students. Chaperons are asked to supervise and remain with their groups at all times and in all locations, including the museum shops. The NMAI reserves the right to cancel programs for groups that are inadequately supervised and to ask unsupervised groups to leave the building.
Changes and Cancellations
All tours and other programs begin on time. Due to strict scheduling guidelines, groups with a scheduled tour that arrive more than 15 minutes late may receive abbreviated tours. If the group must change or cancel a scheduled tour or program, notify the Reservations Office as soon as possible by calling 202-633-6644 or 888-618-0572.
Nearby Metro Station
The closest Metro stop is L'Enfant Plaza, served by the Blue, Orange, Green, and Yellow lines. Exit from the upper platform, follow the signs directing people to the Smithsonian museums, and walk two blocks east (toward the Capitol Building) on Maryland Avenue. For more information, contact Metro at 202-637-7000 or go to the Metro website at www.wmata.com.
Bus Drop-Off and Parking Locations
NMAI allows bus drop-offs on Maryland Avenue only. All school groups enter the building through the Maryland Avenue entrance.
Metered public parking is available on nearby streets; a paid parking garage is located at 500 C Street, S.W. For more information, call 202-298-7054.
The museum is accessible to people with disabilities. All tours and programs can be adapted to accommodate visitors with special needs. To arrange a tour for a special-needs group, contact the Reservations Office at 202-633-6644 (TTY 202-633-6751) at least four weeks in advance.
Due to heightened security on the National Mall, all bags are subject to search upon entering the museum. To speed entrance, leave bags and lunches on buses or at school. Pocket knives, scissors, and other sharp implements are not permitted in the museum.
Group Entrance Procedures
All school groups must use the NMAI's south entrance on the Independence Avenue side of the building. Upon arrival, groups will be asked to present their confirmation letter. Group size must be in accordance with the number of people specified in the confirmation letter.
Food may not be brought into the building, and lunch storage is not available. Groups are strongly encouraged to keep lunches on their buses and to picnic on the National Mall. The Mitsitam Cafe (Mitsitam means "Let's eat!" in the Native language of the Delaware and Piscataway peoples) offers Native foods found throughout the Western Hemisphere, including the Northern Woodlands, South America, the Northwest Coast, Mesoamerica, and the Great Plains. Each food station features cooking techniques, ingredients, and flavors found in both traditional and contemporary dishes. For information about group rates, contact 866-868-7774 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hand-held, video, and flash photography are permitted in the museum except where restrictions are posted. Tripods are not permitted without prior permission.
Guided Tours for Pre-Registered School Groups
Guided school tours introduce students to the museum's collections and discuss topics relevant to the curriculum. All tours include hands-on interaction and are led by a Cultural Interpreter, who brings a Native voice and first-person perspective to your students' educational experience.
Tours begin at 10 or 11:15 AM and last approximately 45 minutes. The museum can accommodate up to 60 students per time slot. Tours are offered Tuesday through Friday, September through May.
Please choose from the following tours and submit either an online request OR fax/mail a completed registration form to the museum.
K–3 Following Old Ways—Making New Traditions
Walk under a star canopy, listen to a story, and discover links between the past and present. What are some of the games American Indian children play today? How do traditional clothing styles compare with modern dress? Explore some ways that Native American people keep old traditions alive and develop new ones.
K–3 Hok-noth-da? Story Program
Everyone tells stories, and stories have always been a great way to teach children. Hok-noth-da? ( "Did you hear?" in the Shawnee language) gives young students a chance to hear a story about a particular tribe and engage hands-on with objects and photographs that deepen their understanding of the tribe represented in the story.
2–6 NEW TOUR! The Great Shellfish Bay: Native Peoples of the Chesapeake Region
Native people have inhabited the Chesapeake region for thousands of years, building their lives around local waterways and the abundance of plants and animals found here. Explore a wetland, touch objects made of cattails, and learn how local tribes, both past and present, have cultivated meaningful relationships with their surrounding environments. Recommended for grades 2–6. Meets DC/VA/MD curriculum standards.
4–6 Cultural Expressions
There are many different ways to express culture, including song, food, stories, dance, clothing, and art. Look at Native objects to learn the stories they tell, and listen to cultural interpreters explain how Native people continue to express their cultures today.
4–6 Continuing Cultural Values—Changing Circumstances
Traditional practices, homelands, and languages are very important to Native American people. Examine the ways some Native communities have responded to the historical pressures of contact with other cultures. How have differing cultural values, the introduction of new materials, and forced removal had an impact on Native people? How do contemporary communities maintain their values and practice their traditions today?
7–12 Challenge and Contemporary Identity
Native peoples have struggled for survival since their first contact with Europeans. Find out how Native cultures have persisted despite the colonization of their homelands. Investigate peace medals, examine treaties between the United States and Indian nations, and explore how international borders continue to affect Native Americans throughout the hemisphere. See modern examples of how Native communities continue to define their places in the world and reflect their unique cultures and identities.