Sunday, June 22, 2014

United States Capitol Etiquette for Visitors

"Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people - your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way."  Barbara Bush
Capitol Etiquette

To ensure that everyone has an enjoyable visit to the Capitol, we ask that you share these guidelines with your students and chaperones. We need everyone’s cooperation to help us preserve the building and its collections for future visitors. Adherence to security and safety requirements is important.
  • Everyone will be asked to present all carried items for inspection upon entering the Capitol Visitor Center. We ask that students leave their backpacks or large bags and metal jewelry behind on the bus to help expedite the security check.
  • Food, beverages (including bottled water) are *prohibited in the building.
  • The Capitol is a working office building. Therefore, you are expected to dress appropriately and behave in a respectful manner in this business environment.
"In many cases not only kindness, but morality and law, are combined in our rules of etiquette." Eleanor Roosevelt

While in the Capitol Visitor Center and the historic Capitol:

  • Turn off and do not use your cell phone or other electronic devices during the orientation film and while touring the Capitol.
  • Use your quiet voice when walking through the Capitol and exploring the Capitol Visitor Center’s Exhibition Hall.
  • Please DO NOT TOUCH art objects including sculptures, statues, walls, and cases. The oils and acids even in clean hands can cause irreparable damage to works of art.
  • Refrain from leaning on the walls or using the walls, display cases, or pedestals for note-taking.
  • Do not sit on displays or sculptures for picture-taking.
  • Do not block doorways or aisles or sit on stairs or floors. Seating is provided throughout the buildings.
  • Stay together as a group. Be attentive to your guide’s instructions at all times and especially when moving from one area to another in the Capitol. Watch your step, always use handrails when on the stairs, and use escalators with caution.
  • Respect any areas that are roped off.
  • Please don’t run, push, shove, or take any other actions that may endanger other visitors or the works of art and the items in the Exhibition Hall.

*Prohibited Items: Capitol visitor policies are designed to keep visitors and staff safe and secure and to preserve the collections, facilities, and historic building and grounds for generations to come.

Before entering the Capitol Visitor Center, all visitors are screened by a magnetometer and all items that are permitted inside the building are screened by an x-ray device. The following items are strictly prohibited in the Capitol, including the Capitol Visitor Center:
  • Liquid, including water
  • Food or beverages of any kind, including fruit and unopened packaged food
  • Aerosol containers
  • Non-aerosol spray (Prescriptions for medical needs are permitted.)
  • Any pointed object, e.g. knitting needles and letter openers (Pens and pencils are permitted.)
  • Any bag larger than 18" wide x 14" high x 8.5" deep
  • Electric stun guns, martial arts weapons or devices
  • Guns, replica guns, ammunition, and fireworks
  • Knives of any size
  • Mace and pepper spray
  • Razors and box cutters
Please note that the U.S. Capitol Police are authorized to make exceptions if a prohibited item is determined to be necessary and required to serve child care, medical or other special needs. If you have questions, please call the Office of Congressional Accessibility Services at 202.224.4048

The following items are not allowed in the Senate and House Galleries:
  • Battery-operated electronic devices (medical devices are permitted)
  • Cameras
  • Cans and bottles
  • Creams, lotions or perfume
  • Packages, briefcases, backpacks or suitcases
  • Strollers
  • Video recorders or any type of recording device
Each Gallery operates a checkstand where visitors may store these items securely while they are visiting that Gallery.
Also, note that smoking is not permitted anywhere in the Capitol, and food and drink are only allowed in the Capitol Visitor Center Restaurant.