Photography Policy

Why can’t I take photographs in the National Archives Museum?

Historical documents are fragile and can fade when exposed to light.

The National Archives must balance keeping documents available for visitors to view with our need to preserve them for future generations. While a camera flash might seem like an insignificant amount of light, repeated exposure can be very damaging to a document. During busy times of year, we welcome more than 4,000 people a day. That’s a lot of potential light!

For this reason, photography is prohibited in all exhibition areas in the National Archives Museum, including in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom.

Why can’t I just take a photo with the flash off?

Many times people have auto-flash on their cameras and phones and don’t remember to turn it off. The only realistic way to protect our documents is to prohibit all photography.

Can I still bring my camera?

Visitors are permitted to bring cameras, but we ask that you put your camera or cell phone away in a pocket, bag, or backpack before entering exhibition areas. 

But I want a souvenir of my visit!

We have several ways you can take home photos of our documents on display:

  1. Download free scans of the: Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights

  2. Find facsimiles in the Archives Store in the museum or online.

  3. Download closeup photos of documents and other details from the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom:

We hope these photos will encourage you to share your experience visiting these documents while making sure they’re around for future generations to experience too.