Find answers to general questions about the National Museum of American History below. For more specific areas of interest, please see the other FAQs listed on this page.
The museum contains 300,000 square feet of exhibition, programming, and public space. Office and other non-public spaces are not included in this figure.
To use any text, image, audio, or video for commercial use, publication, broadcast, documentary, or for any purpose other than fair use as defined by law, you must request and receive prior written permission from the museum. To request permission and/or image reproductions, please visit our Rights and Reproductions page.
It is against Smithsonian policy to provide appraisal or valuation services. If you are interested in having an item appraised, we recommend you contact the American Society of Appraisers.
While we would love to talk with everyone about their personal treasures, unfortunately we do not have adequate time or know-how to answer questions or give advice about each specific item. The Smithsonian offers general information and resources about the care and identification of historical artifacts. Local and state historical societies, libraries, and professional appraisers are also good sources of information.
The museum does not have the resources to help with general questions about U.S. history. We encourage you to make use of your local library or search reputable websites. Questions dealing with specific areas relevant to museum research or staff expertise should be directed to the appropriate curatorial division or staff member.
- Libraries: Research may be done in the National Museum of American History Branch Library and the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology which are open to the public by appointment only. Please call the Library's staff to schedule an appointment. National Museum of American History Branch Library: 202-633-3865; Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology: 202-633-3872
- Artifact Collections: Access to collection materials generally requires making a research appointment with the appropriate curatorial division.
- Archives Center: Researchers are invited to make an appointment and consult with a reference specialist in the Archives Center.
- Fellowships: Fellowships at the Smithsonian Institution provide students and scholars with opportunities to pursue independent research projects in association with members of the Smithsonian professional research staff. More information.
While many artifacts in the national collection are the result of individual donations, only a small percentage of donation offers can be accepted after a rigorous selection process. If you believe you have an item of interest, please send a detailed description, with photos if possible, to firstname.lastname@example.org. After careful consideration, staff will direct you for further action if your donation is accepted. We generally do not consider unsolicited offers of temporary loans, nor can we promise to display loaned or donated items.
To inquire whether a particular object is available for viewing, contact the museum’s Office of Curatorial Affairs.
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Exhibit designers have typically entered the field from a myriad of disciplines--industrial design, interior design, graphic design, and architectural design being the most common. Currently there are graduate programs in the field of museum exhibition planning and design. There are undergraduate programs that allow students to concentrate their studies in exhibit design. A good website to begin your search on is run by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. It gives a good overview of the design profession in general and you can click on FAQs for students and parents to get information on lists of accredited art and design colleges. You should also check out the professional organizations that designers and museum professionals belong to: http://www.aam-us.org, http://www.idsa.org/, http://www.segd.org/, to name a few.
The museum may be rented for weddings and other events hosting anywhere from 10 to 3,500 guests in a variety of newly renovated event spaces chosen to fit your group. For more information please visit our Special Events pages.