School Field Trips
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, 10 AM–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 program. Teachers can reserve group entry and guided school programs 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 guided program, will be sent to you with the confirmation letter, and are also available on this site.
Please note: Groups (e.g., school or home school classes, daycare, camp, or scout groups, etc.) are required to schedule entry time to the imagiNATIONS Activity Center. Groups may only register for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, in 30-minute increments (i.e., 10–10:30 AM; 10:30–11 AM, etc.). Groups must be preschool to 3rd grade only, and are limited to 30 students per timed entry, 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 bring your confirmation letter on the day of your visit.
Guided Programs for Pre-Registered School Groups
Discover new perspectives on American Indian history, culture, and contemporary lives through interactive and engaging school programs led by Cultural Interpreters. Programs reflect key concepts and understandings about American Indians to help students deepen their understanding of the rich and diverse cultures represented in the museum.
Programs lasting 60 minutes may be reserved for Monday through Friday throughout the school year. Program start times are 10:15 AM and 11:30 AM. Each program can accommodate up to 60 students.
Nation to Nation School Program
The Great Law of Peace: Haudenosaunee Diplomacy
Grades: Adaptable to grades 4–12
American Indians devised and have always lived under a variety of sophisticated systems of government. Based on treaties, laws, and court decisions, these tribal governments operate as sovereign nations within the United States today. This interactive program focuses on the history and contemporary identity of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. In exploring the confederacy's governmental structure, its material culture, and its relationship with the United States (both past and present), students will gain a broad understanding of how the Haudenosaunee have created, interacted with, and changed structures of power, authority, and governance.
Americans School Programs
Grades: Adaptable to grades 4–12
Americans exhibition summary
American Indians represent less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, yet names and images of Indians are everywhere: military weapons, town names, advertising, and a national holiday in November. Why? The Americans exhibition, debuting in January 2018, explores this question through four enduring stories—Thanksgiving, the life of Pocahontas, the Trail of Tears, and the Battle of Little Bighorn—showing that Americans have always been fascinated, conflicted, and profoundly shaped by their relationship to American Indians. In these programs, students will engage in meaningful conversations about the exhibition.
1. Powerful Images, Powerful Words (available January 22, 2018)
Tomahawk missile, Land O'Lakes Butter maiden, Jeep Cherokee, Big Chief writing tablet—names and images of Indians are everywhere in American life. Why? Students will explore the ways in which Indian names and images—both historical and contemporary—continue to shape how we think about American Indians. The program will focus specifically on how contemporary images of Pocahontas and the Plains Indian warrior can provide new understandings of familiar events in American history.
2. Influence, Leadership, and Authority (available January 22, 2018)
Federal policies regarding American Indians, such as the Indian Removal Act of 1830, have been the result of major national debate. Many of these policies had a devastating effect on American Indian governing principles and systems, yet American Indian leaders continue to influence policy, support tribal values, and advocate for their people. Students will examine how the dynamics of leadership, influence, and authority have played an important role in key moments of American history and continue to shape the federal government’s relationship with tribal nations.
3. Telling the American Story (available January 22, 2018)
The American story is profoundly shaped by American Indian history, yet the stories told about American Indians are often false and almost always incomplete. Listening to and telling stories are ways we acquire information and relay our values. By experiencing stories about the first Thanksgiving, Pocahontas, and the Battle of Little Bighorn, students will reflect on what makes a good story, why it matters, who tells the story, and how the way stories are shared determines what we remember. This interactive program will explore possibilities for rewriting stories and remedying myths about American Indians.
School programs for the Americans exhibition are made possible through the generous support of the Smithsonian Women's Committee.
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.
Visitors should be prepared for a security check upon entrance to the museum. Please note there may be a line to enter the building on busy days. Security policies and a list of prohibited items are available on the Security page.
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.