News & Politics

More Than 600,000 People Have Already Visited the Smithsonian’s African American History Museum

Photograph by Evy Mages

In the nearly three months since it’s opened, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has shown no signs of becoming any less busy. In fact, the Smithsonian says, more than 600,000 visitors have already passed through its doors, and those hard-to-obtain timed passes to get in are completely booked through next March.

Along with the early traffic numbers, the Smithsonian also announced Tuesday a few slight revisions to how people will be able to visit the museum. Starting next Monday, the limited batches of same-day tickets—which the Smithsonian was distributing on a first-come, first-serve basis to people lined up at 9:15 AM—will no longer be available. Instead, there will be a limited number of walk-up passes given out at 1 PM on weekdays, while weekends the museum will open only to those with the reserved passes.

The timed-pass system was established ahead of the museum’s opening in response to the excitement for its opening, which had been building for more than a century. Since the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened September 24, there have even been reports of passes—which are free—being sold on Craigslist. The passes do not limit how long a person can stay inside the museum, but entry times are staggered.

The distribution of same-day passes is being adjusted to “best serve the public during the winter months,” the Smithsonian says. But rather than make people line up in the cold, the museum also plans to release limited batches of same-day timed passes starting next Monday.

Timed passes for April visits will become available on the museum’s website on January 4, while passes for May will be released on February 1. In a press release, the Smithsonian says the ticketing system will remain in place indefinitely.

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.