News & Politics

People Are Scalping Free Tickets to the Smithsonian’s African American History Museum

Photograph by Evy Mages

With more than a century’s worth of planning and anticipation, it’s no wonder a trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture has been one of DC’s toughest tickets to get ahead of its planned opening on Saturday. Because of the overwhelming demand to visit the museum, the Smithsonian has been distributing timed passes to allow people to enter without overcrowding the place at any one time. As of this writing, the earliest available dates to visit are weekdays in November, while weekend tickets through December have all been snatched up.

Into this void step scalpers. A few enterprising Craigslist users are offering their passes to the museum—which they obtained free of charge—for as much as $200 each. That’s how much this poster wants for six passes on Saturday afternoon. If that’s too much, this person is only charging $120 a head. Wait until Sunday at 6 PM, and you can get a real bargain from this poster, who only wants $60 for each pass.

Far less usurious and rather understandable is this Craiglist user’s request to swap tickets for Saturday or Sunday with a local and avoid having to make a midweek trip from New Jersey.

The Smithsonian has not yet replied to questions about whether or not it can prevent attempts to resell the passes to the museum. But even if the institution is unable to stop such actions, scalping tickets to a free museum seems especially craven. Waiting for tickets stinks, but so does being grifted.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.