Smithsonian to end timed-entry passes for most museums

Starting next week, the Smithsonian will no longer require timed-entry passes to visit most of its museums.

Free passes will still be required to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Zoo.

Museums on the National Mall will return to their pre-pandemic hours, which for most is 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

According to a news release, The National Museum of African American History and Culture, which has required free timed-entry passes since it opened in 2016, will continue to require passes. The National Zoo began using the passes as a way to enforce COVID-19 capacity limits, but will continue using them to manage their normal limits.

Also starting Tuesday, the zoo will no longer require additional passes to visit the giant pandas. Visitors will just need a pass to enter the zoo.

Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City, which typically charges for entry, will continue to require tickets but will offer free tickets through Oct. 31. All other Smithsonian museums will stop using timed-entry passes.

Several Smithsonian museums are scheduled to reopen this summer for the first time since March 2020. These locations will not use free timed-entry passes when they open, including the National Museum of African Art and the National Museum of Asian Art’s Freer Gallery, both opening Friday, July 16.

Reopening Schedule

Friday, July 16:

  • National Museum of African Art
  • National Museum of Asian Art’s Freer Gallery

Friday, July 30

  • National Air and Space Museum
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (the “Castle”)

Friday, Aug. 6

  • Anacostia Community Museum

Friday, Aug. 20

  • Hirshhorn Museum (Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden remains open)

Friday, Aug. 27

  • National Postal Museum

More information is available online.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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