Chaperone Guidelines

Image of two young boys in the foreground, lying down and sketching, with an adult and child in the background
Preschoolers sketching as part of their museum tour; photo by Mara Kurlandsky, NMWA

Have a pleasant visit at NMWA! 

To help make sure your visit to the National Museum of Women in the Arts is a positive experience, we’ve compiled a list of helpful information. 


The museum’s collection and special exhibitions include artwork expressing a range of subject matter, including the nude or partially nude human form. Please prepare students for the possibility of viewing these images before arriving at the museum. Our Education staff will be happy to answer questions or address concerns you may have about the works on view prior to your museum visit.

Before you arrive

  • Make sure you have enough chaperones.
    • School visits with students 18 years of age and younger are free.
    • General chaperone requirements for guided or self-guided groups:
      • Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten: One adult chaperone per three students
      • Grades 1–12: One adult chaperone per 10 students
    • Chaperone requirements for self-guided groups when students are assigned independent or small-group activities:
      • Grades 1–12: One adult chaperone per 5 students
    • Chaperones are admitted free.
  • Predetermine smaller touring groups, if you are coming with more than 20 students.
  • Familiarize yourself with the museum by reviewing our museum map and gallery guide.
  • Review our museum rules with your students.
    • In a museum, I should:
      • Look closely,
      • Share my thoughts and ideas,
      • Listen respectfully, and
      • Ask questions
    • In a museum, I should not:
      • Touch artwork,
      • Wander away from my group,
      • Eat, drink, or chew gum,
      • Talk out of turn,
      • Sit, step, or lean on any platforms holding art,
      • Raise my voice, or
      • Run
  • If possible, plan ahead to avoid bringing large items into the museum.

During your visit

  • Remember that to be a great chaperone, you don’t need any special knowledge—just common sense and a willingness to get involved and model good behavior.
  • If your students have backpacks or bags bigger than 16 x 16 inches, encourage them to leave these items on the bus or at school. For more information, review our bag policy.
  • Check in at the Museum Shop to pick up admission stickers and purchase tickets for additional chaperones.
  • After checking in, meet your tour guide(s) at the Information Desk in the Great Hall.
  • Model appropriate museum behavior by following museum rules.
  • Help our museum educators focus on teaching your students. They depend on and appreciate your ability to manage the class. Throughout your visit, please enforce the museum’s rules and privately address misbehaving students.
  • Participate! Whether a highlights tour of our collection, a tour of our special exhibitions, or one of our themed tours, we encourage all chaperones to participate in activities, answer questions posed by your guide, and ask questions.
  • Remember flash photography, tripods, selfie sticks, extension cords, or other special equipment is NOT permitted. Non-flash photography is permitted of artwork in the museum’s collection and select special exhibitions.

During your self-guided visit

  • Visit the Information Desk to pick up a museum map and See for Yourself card pack. Our helpful volunteers will notify you about programs on the day of your visit.
    • Please note: Our See for Yourself card packs were designed with adults in mind and may include works of art that contain nudity. Download and review the current pack of cards before sharing with your students and contact with any questions.
  • Allow students (and yourself!) to draw, sketch, or take notes with pencils only. No pens or markers are allowed in the galleries.
  • Self-guided groups must provide students with notebooks or clipboards as a work surface for writing or drawing activities. The museum has a limited number of clipboards that may be borrowed if a written request is submitted in advance to
  • We encourage close looking. We love when visitors discuss and ask questions about the art. More information is available online about Visual Thinking Strategies, a technique used by NMWA’s museum educators.
  • Feel free to ask staff members or volunteers questions about various works of art you may see before, after, or during your visit.

Helpful Information

  • Free Wi-Fi is available in the galleries. Ask NMWA volunteers or refer to signs for the password.
  • Share your visit by tagging @womeninthearts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
  • As a courtesy to other visitors, set all phones to vibrate and take calls outside of the galleries.
  • NMWA welcomes all visitors and strives to be accessible to everyone. All public areas of the museum are wheelchair accessible. Please ask security for assistance. A limited number of wheelchairs are available at the security desk for use within the museum.
  • Sketching is permitted and encouraged! In the galleries, use notebooks 11 x 14 in. or smaller and pencils. Colored pencils and ink pens are not allowed.
  • If you have lost an item, check with security or call 202-783-5000.
  • First aid and an automated external defibrillator (AED) are available if needed. Inform security if you require access.
  • Restrooms are available on all floors except the Mezzanine level. Changing tables are available in the restrooms located in the Great Hall.
  • There are a variety of nearby places for lunch! A multi-level McDonald’s can be found on New York Avenue, directly across from the museum. A Subway is on 12th St., between New York Avenue and H Street. The Shops at National Place (Food Court), on 529 14th Street NW (between 13th & 14th, on F) has several options. If students wish to bring their lunch, nearby Franklin Park has enough room for a picnic! Feel free to ask NMWA staff to hear about additional options.
  • Buses can drop students and chaperones off at the main New York Avenue entrance. Many companies know of bus parking available in the area. Options include lots near the National Mall or the surface lot at City Center (900 9th St. NW).
  • Since metered street parking is minimal, NMWA has partnered with SpotHero (formerly Parking Panda), the nation's leading parking reservation app. Visitors can purchase guaranteed parking at nearby parking garages with rates up to 50% off drive-up. Once purchased, present your purchase confirmation at the selected location (this serves as your payment). Parking is guaranteed even if the location otherwise fills up.
  • Ask about our potential transportation assistance for District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), District of Columbia Public Charter Schools (DCPCS), and Title I schools within 30 miles of NMWA who wish to take guided tours at the museum.

We hope you enjoy your visit!

National Museum of Women in the Arts