This post describes how to get advanced and same-day tickets for individuals and groups to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. It also describes the exhibits and other practical information relevant to your visit.
WHEN DO YOU NEED TICKETS TO THE HOLOCAUST MUSEUM: First, if you are visiting from September through February, you do not need a ticket. Just show up. Entry is free. In fact, the Holocaust Museum is one of the top free things to do in DC.
From March through August, the Permanent Exhibit does require timed tickets for entry. The tickets are timed for 1 hour. This means, if you obtain a ticket for 10 am, you have from that time until 11 am to enter the Permanent Exhibit.
TIP: If you are coming only for Daniel’s Story or other temporary exhibits, you never need a ticket no matter the time of year.
Below are instructions for getting advanced tickets to the Permanent Exhibit, whether you are bringing your family of 4 or a group of 50 students. Advanced reservations are taken up to 6 months in advance.
If you have more than 40 people, click here for instructions.
If you have less than 40 people, click here for instructions.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR GROUPS OF 40 OR MORE
Scroll to section: Groups of 40 or More and click on the link to the advanced group reservation system. It will tell you the earliest and latest dates that you may make a reservation. On the side of the page there is a list of options, click on Make A Reservation.
This is where it starts to get a little tricky. If you have a group of fewer than 120, select “Permanent Exhibition” from the drop-down menu (there is no other option) and enter the number of adults and children into the appropriate boxes. Select the search dates that you are looking for from the menus, then hit search.
If you are traveling with a group larger than 120 people, you will need to break the group into smaller parts and make a reservation for each individually. When you are shown a list of available dates (Step 5) select one with times close to each other so that your groups can go in back to back and be finished close together.
You will be taken to 1 of 2 screens. If there are no available tickets in the date range you selected, it will tell you and allow you to return to the previous screen to try again.
If there are tickets available in your date range, you will see a list of dates with the times and number of tickets available. Select the one that works best for you.
You will be taken to a screen and told you to have a pending reservation that they will hold for 20 minutes. If you have never made a reservation on this system before, click on the link that says: Complete My Reservation so you can provide information about your group.
If you have used it before, log in to your account, otherwise, you will need to create an account with your information.
You will then be taken to a Confirmation screen with additional information and will receive a confirmation email.
You are done!
Make sure you take note of the arrival instructions, as groups arrive on the 15th Street side of the Museum, not the main entrance on 14th. Plan to arrive a half hour early, and have your group line up single file from the entrance. Inform your group that they will be going through security.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR GROUPS OF LESS THAN 40
It’s important to note that reserving tickets for smaller groups in advance has a convenience charge of $1 per ticket.
For information on reserving tickets for a group of less than 40 for a visit between March and August, go to this link.
On the calendar, all dates that are in bold have tickets available. Select the date you want to visit from the calendar. A list of times will appear with the number of tickets for each time. Select the time you want and the number of tickets needed.
The checking out process is similar to any other online transaction, enter your credit card information and proceed as you would at any online vendor.
Arriving at the Museum, groups of less than 40 should go to the main entrance, on 14th street (see map above), and plan to arrive 20 to 30 minutes before your scheduled time to make sure you are through security.
Consider FREE TOURS BY FOOT when bringing your group or school group to Washington, DC. We are a group of knowledgeable and fun tour guides, experienced with private tours for school, corporate or VIP groups. We love what we do and we take pride in our long-term partnerships.
For more information on private group tours click here.
If you are unable to get tickets in advance or want to have some flexibility with your visit to Washington, DC; the Holocaust Memorial Museum does offer same day tickets.
Tickets are distributed on a first-come, first served basis beginning at 10 a.m. One person may ask for up to 20 passes.
NOTE: With proper identification, members of the military, law enforcement, firefighters and government employees are entitled to obtain non-timed passes. They must enter the museum and request their complimentary tickets at the information desk.
During the spring season, when there are many school groups visiting the city, the line for same-day tickets begins to form as early as 7 am. If you arrive later the staff will often manage the line so you don’t have to wait if they don’t think there will be tickets left.
The pass line forms next to the building in the alley with benches. Staff distributes the passes from the 14th Street side of the alley to allow those with passes to proceed into the building. The same day ticket line is one block away from the Smithsonian Metro (Blue/Orange/Silver) Station.
Get Same Day Tickets Online
There are a limited number of same-day tickets for Holocaust Memorial Museum available online beginning at 6 am each morning. You can purchase these through the same link as advanced tickets.
In this section, we provide details to help make your trip a smooth one, including how to get here, hours of operation, security considerations, food options, as well as nearby attractions to help you plan out your day.
Officially, the Holocaust Museum is located at 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, but the main tourist entrance is located at 205 14th St. in southwest D.C.
Use this link for directions to the Holocaust Museum from anywhere in the Washington, DC area.
TIP: Our DC All-in-One Walking Tour ends at 2:00 pm (14:00) at the Jefferson Memorial, approximately a 10 min walk to the museum.
The closest Holocaust Museum Metro stop is the Smithsonian (Blue/Orange/Silver) Stop. Be sure you use the Independence Ave exit and not the Mall exit.
When you exit the station on Independence Ave SW, just head straight two blocks to 14th St SW and you’ll see the museum across the street to the left.
Read our tips on how to use the DC Metro system.
If you have or are considering purchasing the hop-on-hop-off bus ticket, keep in mind that all relevant companies stop at the Holocaust Museum.
Some nearby streets have metered parking but they are subject to hour limits and rush hour restrictions. There are a few nearby commercial parking facilities.
You can compare prices at these garages and reserve a space at one of your choices through SpotHero. This service makes the entire parking experience stress-free and can be quite the lifesaver for drivers in Washington DC.
The Holocaust Museum is open daily with the exception of Yom Kippur and Christmas Day.
10:00 am – 5:20 pm (17:20)
The entrance to the Permanent Exhibit closes at 4:30 pm (16:30) to allow ample viewing of the exhibit.
The Holocaust Museum has its own police force and security protocols. Entrance to the museum requires airport-like security. (Keep your shoes on, though!) Any electronics and bags will need to go through the scanner.
While closed food and drinks are allowed, there is no eating, drinking or gum inside the museum.
Open water bottles are allowed, but you will likely be asked to take a sip before they’ll let it in. Other beverages are not allowed if already opened.
Photography is now allowed inside the museum and exhibits, as long as it is done without flash and without interfering in the experience of others. Photographs in or around the security area, however, are prohibited.
There is a Museum Cafe, though it is a separate building from the actual museum. You will have to go through security to enter the cafe building as well as to re-enter the museum.
Please note that you cannot take food into the museum.
The Cafe has pre-made as well as hot food, often focusing on traditional Jewish dishes. For groups, there is a boxed lunch option as well. The Museum Cafe closes at 4:30 pm (16:30).
The USHMM is just off the National Mall, meaning it is nearby to many other attractions. We suggest planning your trip to take advantage of things nearby!
CURRENT AND PERMANENT EXHIBITS
There are many things to see at the Holocaust Museum, but the Permanent Exhibit is a must-see and the one most people are talking about after their visit.
A visit to the museum can be a full day experience, most of it spent in the Permanent Exhibit. It is recommended to reserve at least 90 minutes to fully experience this part of the museum. Based on your interests, you can easily spend more.
It is very moving and follows a chronological path through the times leading up to, during and after the Holocaust. There are 3 floors each with its own time-frame.
What is most memorable is the passport-like book you receive as you enter. It has the story of a real person who went through World War II and the events of the Holocaust. The book is chronological like the exhibit so as you walk through the museum, you’ll also have a personal story of what that person experienced during this same time.
At the end of the exhibit, you’ll find out what happened – it can be a heart-wrenching moment, so there is a place for reflection at the exit of the permanent exhibit.
As you start at the top of the Permanent Exhibit, the museum focuses on the events leading up to the Holocaust and the rise of the Nazis 1933-1939. There are two films on this floor: The Nazi Rise to Power (13 minutes) and Antisemitism (14 minutes).
The middle level of the exhibit focuses 1940-45 with the events most associated with the Holocaust – gas chambers, mass murder and the Nazi policy towards the Jews. The main focus on this floor are the concentration camps.
Before you reach it, you may be able to sense it – a collection of over 4,000 shoes. Shoes were one of the many items confiscated from prisoners as they entered concentration camps.
The Final Chapter exhibit highlights the liberation of these camps and the aftermath of the Holocaust. Exiting the exhibit, you are introduced to a continuous looping video of testimony from Holocaust survivors.
Technically, this is a special exhibit but it has been a part of the museum for many years. It follows the story of a child, Daniel, in Nazi Germany from 1933-1945. It is interactive and includes many videos as you walk through a recreated version of his homes where you can touch, feel and listen.
This exhibit is a way to teach younger children (recommended aged 8+) about the Holocaust for those who may find the Permanent Exhibit to be too graphic. For more about visiting the Holocaust Museum with kids, read our post here.
Timing: Daniel’s Story is meant for children, so it is a shorter visit. Most families will find it takes about 45 minutes to walk through, watch all the videos and experience it. At the end, there is an area with young visitors can reflect on what they learned.
Daniel’s Story does not require tickets and you can enter anytime the museum is open.
Continuing with an exhibit for children, the Children’s Tile Wall is in the lower level. There are over 3,000 tiles that were created and painted by American students in reaction to learning about the Holocaust in the 1980s.
Downstairs you will find special rotating exhibits that focus on other aspects of the Holocaust as well as genocide acts in other countries and times.
Timing: These special exhibits are shorter than the permanent exhibit and take about an hour to visit.