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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about visiting Dumbarton Oaks, the gardens, and museum

General Gardens Museum

General

What precautions are you taking given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?

Our priority is the safety of visitors, Dumbarton Oaks staff, and the community. We continue to closely follow the COVID-19 statistics, including infection rates and vaccine progress. We will monitor the public health situation, modifying our procedures or capacity limits as necessary. 

  • As of September 12, 2022, visitors to the Museum no longer need to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Masks are not required, but strongly encouraged.
  • Restrooms are available to visitors and cleaned at regular intervals throughout the day.
  • Hand sanitizer stations are available throughout the Museum.
  • To help protect visitors and staff, we ask that you stay home if you are unwell, are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days prior to your visit, or have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days prior to your visit.
  • Visitors agree to abide by the guidelines on the Museum’s website and by all instructions posted in the Museum or provided by staff during the visit. If a visitor or member of their party fails to follow the Museum guidelines and instructions, they may be denied entry or required to leave the premises.
  • These policies are subject to change or reevaluation based on the evolving health crisis. We encourage you to check back here before your visit.

Do I have to wear a mask?

Masks are not required, but strongly encouraged.

Are food and drinks allowed?

Visitors may not bring food and drink, including water, into the museum. Visitors may bring water into the garden, but food and picnicking are not allowed.

Is Dumbarton Oaks accessible?

The museum is fully accessible. The garden, in keeping with its topography and historic design, presents several challenges to visitors with mobility impairments, including steep inclines, slippery surfaces, loose gravel walkways, staircases, and other impediments. For detailed information, see Accessibility.

Are tours available?

We offer both walk-in and scheduled tours. For more information, see Guided Tours.

Are animals allowed at Dumbarton Oaks?

Only service animals are permitted in the museum and gardens.

May I take photos?

Commercial, promotional, and professional photography are not permitted, but photography for personal use is welcome. Flash photography and video cameras are not allowed in the museum, but may be used in the garden. Photographs may be posted to personal websites and blogs, and to social media.

Tripods, lights, and bulky photography equipment, are not allowed in the museum and gardens.

For digital or print publication, including scholarly and educational use, please refer to Rights and Reproductions.

May I sketch in the Museum or Gardens?

Visitors are welcome to sketch in the museum with pencil or charcoal on pads no larger than 12” x 18”. The use of paints or easels requires prior permission. In addition, pen markers, vine charcoals/pastels or soft drawing media, and open containers or solvents are not allowed in the museum.

In the Gardens, only a pencil or charcoal can be used on pads no larger than 12” x 18”.

What happens if I lose something at Dumbarton Oaks?

Any items found on the property are turned in to the Dumbarton Oaks Security Office. The items are logged in and kept for 30 days. After that, they are donated to local charities.

Dumbarton Oaks works diligently to reunite lost property items with their owners and in order to do so, we need specific information such as the date the item was lost, last known area of the campus, description, make, model, etc. Please email identifying information about the property along with contact information to security@doaks.org and we will review and respond to your inquiry.

Does Dumbarton Oaks rent out space for weddings or other private events?

Dumbarton Oaks does not host any external events, including weddings, on the property. Members of the public who are planning events or scouting for event locations may contact historic sites and parks in the DC area, such as:

  • Dumbarton House
  • Tudor Place
  • Montrose Park
  • Old Stone House
  • Brookside Gardens
  • Woodrow Wilson House


Gardens

I reserved (or purchased) a ticket but cannot make it. How do I cancel?

From November 1 – March 14, entry to the Gardens is free and no tickets are required.

From March 15 – October 31, tickets can be refunded by requesting a refund in through Eventbrite.

Tickets are listed as sold out OR I can only reserve 3 tickets, but I need one more. Is there anything you can do?

Due to capacity limits, hourly tickets may be listed as sold out. We are unable to override this in the system, so you will have to choose a different date and time to visit the Gardens. If the system is only allowing you to purchase a certain number of tickets, that is because there are only that many left. You may have to select a different date and time to accommodate your entire party.

If I have a season pass, do I need a timed ticket to enter the Gardens?

No. Please show your season pass or purchase confirmation email at the Garden Gate to enter the Gardens.

If I have a Harvard ID, do I need a timed ticket to enter the Gardens? No, you no longer need a ticket to enter the Gardens.  Simply show your Harvard ID to gain entry.  Your Harvard ID does not cover any guests, so those guests will need to reserve an entry ticket using the Eventbrite link through October 31. From November 1 – March 14, entry to the Gardens is free and no tickets are required.    


Museum

What can I bring into the museum?

Handbags and small backpacks may be carried into the museum. Bags or packs worn on the back are not permitted. All parcels and bags larger than 11" x 16"x 8", including backpack-style child carriers, must be checked in the cloakroom, located in the museum foyer.

We may require that large strollers be left in the cloakroom, but can provide a small stroller for use in the galleries. The cloakroom has hangers for coats, small lockers for valuables (please bring a quarter), and storage for umbrellas.

Is it okay to touch the artwork?

No. For the protection of the collections, please refrain from touching art objects. In view of the intimate setting, we kindly ask that visitors show consideration for others while in the galleries and follow the guidance of our gallery attendants.

How can I attend concerts?

For information about the concert series, including upcoming performances and ticket sales, see Music at Dumbarton Oaks.

I have an artwork that is damaged or needs to be cleaned. Can you recommend someone?

Dumbarton Oaks is unable to endorse specific conservators. To locate a conservator in your area, we suggest that you search the “Find a Professional” database on the website of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC). The Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) also has excellent resources to help you care for your art.

Does Dumbarton Oaks offer appraisals of art or antiquities?

Dumbarton Oaks does not authenticate, appraise, date, or attribute historic and artistic works. If you wish to learn more about the market or insurance value of your art, please consult a professional appraiser. The websites of the Appraisers Association of America and the American Society of Appraisers both have searchable online directories.